Melatonin is one of the many hormones produced by the body and has the chemical name N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine. This particular hormone is produced and released by the pineal gland, one of the body’s other hormone producing glands besides the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreas. Melatonin helps control all of the other hormones as well as sustaining the natural “circadian” rhythm in the body.
Circadian refers to any biological process that occur every 24-hours. Our circadian rhythm is like a clock in our system that comes in to play for our sleep process. It determines when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When the sun goes down and it gets dark, more melatonin is produced. Conversely, with the presence of the sun, the production decreases. Exposure to a lot of light in the evenings or not enough light during the day can upset this natural cycle of melatonin production. Some examples that can cause this kind of disruption are:
Non-prescription melatonin supplements have been on the market for years and are used to treat numerous different medical conditions. Most are related to sleep problems but there is some scientific evidence to support that they work for some non-sleep related issues as well.
Clinical trials have shown that melatonin supplements can significantly reduce jet lag. The melatonin should be taken on the first day of travel at approximately the bedtime of the destination and then every night for the next several days. This can decrease the days needed to get into a normal sleep routine, cut down on the time it takes to get to sleep (known as sleep latency), and decrease fatigue during the day.
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) – This refers to the difficulty getting to sleep at night even when the natural sleep process has not been disrupted by things like jet lag or too much light in the evenings.
Insomnia in the elderly – Melatonin taken at the same time every evening, approximately 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, can cut down on the amount of time to get to sleep that often plagues elderly people.
Enhancement of sleep for healthy people – Melatonin taken regularly can even help healthy people who occasionally have sleep issues.
There are conditions for which melatonin may be used that have been studied in trials where the results, while appearing to be positive, are not completely conclusive as to their effectiveness. In many of these cases further studies are planned or are currently on-going.
Other studies are trying to prove the usefulness of melatonin for treating headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome, and numerous other health issues.
Studies have shown that melatonin is considered to be safe as long as the recommended dosage is taken, which is 5 milligrams a day for no more than two years. There are some rare case reports where blood clotting, risk of seizure, and disorientation have occurred when overdoses are taken.
Some common minor side effects that have been reported include:
Dizziness, Fatigue (this may happen more if taking melatonin in the mornings or in doses that are too high), Headaches, Sleepiness.
Some people have reported sleepwalking, disorientation, unusually vivid dreams, and nightmares while taking melatonin.
Important: Click Here to Read Our Disclaimer