Melatonin is a necessary hormone secreted in the brain. It comes from the pineal gland and is responsible for regulating the other hormones throughout the body as well as keeping the body’s internal clock running smoothly. Our body’s internal clock is also referred to as the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is extremely important in keeping our natural sleep cycles regular. When we are in the dark our bodies naturally produce melatonin. Once we are in the light, the melatonin effects are suppressed. This cycle can easily be disrupted when we expose ourselves to too much light in the evening hours or by spending too much time in the dark during the daylight hours. Those who are night owls, work odd hours, fly frequently or for long distances, and those who suffer from blindness can all have disrupted sleep cycles.

Melatonin also helps improve the immune system within the body through its antioxidant effects. This is why people who get enough sleep are often less sick than those who sleep less. It has been proven that getting enough sleep will help keep you healthy and fight off illness. Getting enough sleep also helps relieve stress and heal the body.

Melatonin is also important in females. It helps maintain the female reproductive hormones. Melatonin is in charge of causing menstruation cycles to begin and end. When melatonin levels are out of sync in women, the menstrual cycles can be irregular as well as timing of menopause.

Studies have shown that the reason children require more sleep than adults is because they have higher levels of melatonin. Babies have the highest levels of melatonin and as we age our melatonin levels drop. This is why a lot of adults have sleeping disorders such as insomnia.

For those that have disrupted melatonin levels there are melatonin supplements that may be taken. These can come in pill form, capsules, dissolvable lozenges, creams, gels and lotions. Melatonin has shown to help people with all sorts of disorders so there are different forms of the supplement that can be used.

One of the most obvious reasons for taking melatonin would be for insomnia. Those who suffer from insomnia or those who just cannot rest due to jet lag, work hours or vision impairment may take melatonin an hour before needing to fall asleep to help the body know it is time to rest. Not only can it help you fall asleep quicker, but you may also sleep better and longer as well as feel more energized once awakened. When used for this reason, melatonin should only be taken for short periods of time, usually a few days to weeks or until the natural circadian rhythm is re-established within the body.

Melatonin has also been used to help treat osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, menopause, high blood pressure, breast cancer, prostate cancer, sunburn, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Because melatonin has a big role in managing other hormones throughout the body, it is needed for all sorts of reasons.

Although melatonin can offer many benefits, as with any supplement, it can also cause unwanted side effects. Melatonin has also shown to interact with several medications including blood pressure medications, blood thinners, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and others. So it may not be for everyone. Before starting a melatonin supplement read the label to determine what dosage is right for you and your condition. If you notice unwanted side effects when taking melatonin you may need to lower your dosage. Some people find that they can benefit from just very small doses of melatonin. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid melatonin supplements since melatonin can interfere with fertility.


Last updated on Aug 24th, 2009 and filed under Sleep Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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