Melatonin Can Help You Sleep
Melatonin Has Been Used To Improve Poor Sleep Patterns
The human body is tuned to sleeping at night and waking during the day.
Scientists have now proven our body’s sleep patterns are regulated by light and dark.
Light stimulates a microscopic nerve pathway from the eyes retina to an area in the brain called the hypothalamus and specifically an area called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). The SCN creates signals to sections of the brain controlling hormones, body temperature and a variety of other functions which play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide awake.
Read why counting sheep is not the answer to a better nights sleep.
Specifically, the SCN engages our body similar to that of a clock and sets off regulated patterns of activity affecting our entire body. Once we are exposed to the very first light each day, this clock within the SCN commences built in performance like functions. For example, raising our body temperature and releasing stimulating hormones like cortisol.
In addition SCN delays the release of other hormones including Melatonin, which is now known to be associated with the onset of sleep, until many hours later when darkness begins.
What Is Melatonin
Science tells us Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. Pronounced (pih-knee-uhl). The gland is pea-sized around the middle of our brain.
During the course of the day the pineal gland is mostly inactive. As darkness occurs, it is “switched on” by the SCN and starts to produce melatonin, which is subsequently released into our blood. Normally this would occur around 9.00 pm. Following this increased production our melatonin levels in the blood we begin to feel fatigue and sleepy. and our bedsbecomes more inviting.
These Melatonin levels remain elevated in our blood for approximately 12 hours [when its dark] until morning [in the light] when they decline to the low daytime levels around 9.00 am. The levels during the daytime, or light, are barely detectable.
In addition to making adjustments to our body clock, bright light inhibits the pineal glands release of melatonin. Interestingly melatonin is at times referred to as the “Dracula of Hormones” because it only comes out at night.
It is important to also understand that whilst the pineal gland may be switched on by our internal body clock it won’t produce melatonin unless the persons surroundings are dark. Artificial lighting indoors can be bright enough to prevent the release of melatonin. Even ambient lighting from clock radios and alarms are enough to restrict the production of melatonin.
How Does Melatonin Work
Melatonin’s main task is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles.
Taking a Melatonin supplement either by pill or spray effectively increases the natural hormone levels and encourages sleep.
A variety of studies have shown melatonin can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep plus reducing the number of awakenings, however not generally the total sleep time.
It is as simple of increasing the levels of the hormone our body naturally produces. Our natural levels of Melatonin drop as we become older. In fact the levels become very small or none at all.
These natural levels are also effected by jet lag and so by taking supplements to increase these levels it assists our bodies in accepting a “Sleep Mode”.
It is also used by shift workers who struggle with the natural body clock and the dark / light adjustment required for good sleep.
Who Can Use Melatonin
Due to the fact melatonin is contained naturally in some foods, the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement (e.g., vitamins and minerals). Consequently they don’t need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or controlled in the same way as drugs.
It is the only hormone that is available in the USA without a prescription. It is not classed as a drug and as a result is made freely and openly in factories all around the world.
It would be advisable for children and pregnant or nursing women to avoid until they consult medical advice first.
Generally speaking most people can use Melatonin but if you have specific, existing, health related illnesses then it is wise to run it by your Medical Practitioner first.
What Are The Identified Uses of Melatonin
The more studies carried out on the hormone the more perceived uses are being identified. Melatonin is currently being used in the following manner:
- General sleep difficulties
- High blood pressure
- Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome [DSPS]
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Insomnia due to certain high blood pressure medications called beta-blockers
- Sleep problems in children with developmental disorders including autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Ringing in the ears
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Migraine and other headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Bone loss (osteoporosis)
- A movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia (TD)
- As an anti-aging agent
- Birth control
- Calm people before they are given anesthesia for surgery
Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin has side effect like many supplements but they do go away once you cease taking it. It is safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use.
Side effects may include:
- Lower body temperature
- Vivid dreams
- Morning grogginess
- Small changes in blood pressure
- Daytime sleepiness
- Abdominal discomfort
- Mild anxiety
- Short-lasting feelings of depression
Additionally melatonin supplements may interact with various medications, including:
- Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants)
- Medications that suppress the immune system
- Diabetes medications
- Birth control pills
Please ensure you consult your medical practitioner, if you are currently on medication, before trying Melatonin.
Doses can vary depending on your personal requirement but a typical dose of 1 to 5 mg, can have the effect of increasing your blood melatonin levels to 20 times normal. My suggestion is to try a lower level of 1-3mg initially.
To make the most out of melatonin it is important to take the correct dosage at the right time of day, particularly if you are using it to help with sleep. Taking it at the wrong time of day will have the effect of resetting your body clock.
The best time to take it for sleep issues is around 9pm or at least 90 minutes before bed. This enables a good period of time for the body to absorb the melatonin and for relaxation to commence. Turn the lights down to aid in this relaxation journey.
Long term continual use at high dosage is not recommended and if considered you should consult your medical practitioner.
For a more in depth dosage listing for other than sleep issues, you can check it here with the Mayo Clinic.
Where To Buy Melatonin
Health Stores stock the supplement plus there are a number of online outlet available, the biggest being Amazon.
Here are a couple you can look at and seem to be well received. Anything sold on Amazon that achieves a 4 plus star rating and has hundred of comments is going to be good.
Take a look around Amazon because there are more options.
Click either graphic below – They will direct you to Amazon
I have completed another review of a different type of sleep aid called Alteril. This might be of some interest to you as well.