Many Melatonin Supplements are available in today’s market. Almost 20% of Americans suffer from some pattern of disordered sleeping, and these range anywhere from moderate difficulty falling asleep to nightmares and sleep walking.
Often, the regulation of melatonin is involved, though it’s difficult to say to what extent.
Melatonin and Your Body
In this article, we offer a brief overview of melatonin, discussing its potential as a sleep aid as well as some drawbacks of this method.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in humans. It regulates a number of processes in the body in addition to the functionality of other hormones.
It is most popularly known as the “hormone of darkness” due to its association with regulating our sleep cycles at night.
More generally, melatonin helps regulate our circadian rhythms, which are a reflection of the 24-hour day. This means that melatonin is more active at night in response to darkness than it is during the day when there is sufficient light.
Melatonin causes various changes in blood pressure, body temperature, hunger, and ideation that promotes healthy sleep patterns at night.
In addition to humans, melatonin is a critical hormone in both plants and other animals.
In plants, it acts a protectant against oxidative stress. Melatonin also regulates the circadian rhythm of other animals, though these changes vary depending on the idiosyncrasies of the animal. For example, melatonin results in increased energy levels for nocturne animals who thrive in darkness.
Does Melatonin Work?
Even though melatonin is naturally released by the body, many people experience disturbed melatonin production.
This is correlated with many sleep disorders, most commonly insomnia, but it’s often difficult to determine if the disturbed melatonin production is a cause or symptom of these disorders.
A melatonin supplement is considered effective with some people, inducing a hypnotic state that makes them feel drowsy. These people use it as a temporary sleep aid when they are experiencing sleep difficulties.
Despite its mild effects, it’s not considered ideal for long term use, primarily because the body produces it naturally.
Other people find it ineffective and notice hardly any changes. Yet, because it has very little side effects, it is often prescribed as a first stage of treatment. The worst symptoms that are reported are usually morning grogginess and irritability.
How Much Melatonin to Take?
A very small amount of melatonin is needed in order to be effective, ranging from 1mg to 3mg.
Rarely is a higher dosage prescribed, though on occasion 5mg is used. It typically comes in a pill form, though it is less commonly taken in liquid form.
Most doctors recommend taking it about 30 minutes before you go to bed and consistently taking it each night at the same time. If it is taken too early, then its effects can be rendered ineffective.
Drawbacks of Melatonin Supplementation
While melatonin supplements are often used to realign people’s circadian rhythms, most notably with people experiencing jet lag or insomnia, it is relatively ineffective as a sedative drug.
While melatonin can help with rebalancing someone who missed several hours or nights of sleep, it is not desirable as a permanent treatment for sleep disorders. This is because it will ultimately interfere with body’s natural production of melatonin.
Eventually, the body’s natural production will be rendered ineffective, and this will bring a host of other side effects since melatonin regulates so many other processes in the body.
Additionally, even when melatonin supplementation is used, people often claim that their sleep is less restorative and cleansing. Thus, while it might promote sleepiness, it is still up to the user to initiate the proper conditions for sleep.
This is a problem since many people view drugs as a quick fix and neglect many other important factors, like sleep environment and diet. Thus, many people will take melatonin in order to avoid dealing with some underlying issue.
Our Final Thoughts on Melatonin
Melatonin as a hormone is critical for the health of the body, but as a supplement is ineffective and ultimately unnatural. In almost every case that it is used as a supplement, a better approach would be to simply meditate, breathe, and focus on promoting a comfortable environment.
The underlying cause of sleep disorders can be difficult to pinpoint, but this doesn’t mean we should resort to pharmaceutical drugs.
The human body has been sculpted to need sleep in order to function.
Thus, the solution to sleep related difficulties is often not to add something, but rather to subtract something. The hard part is figuring out what to remove.
But, once the source has been isolated, the body will quickly return to a state of health, and this includes a healthy circadian rhythm with appropriate melatonin production.
*”The information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment and diagnosis.”
Feature image via SleepZoo