6 Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin is a common dietary supplement that has gained widespread popularity around the globe. It is knowns as a natural sleep aid, it also has powerful effects on other aspects of your health.
Photo credit: Shutter stock
Table of contents
- What Is Melatonin?
- When to Take Melatonin
- Proven benefits of Melatonin
- Supplements and dosage of Melatonin
- Side effects of Melatonin
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone made naturally, that plays a role in sleep. Melatonin production and release in the brain are related to time of day, rising in the evening and falling in the morning. Light at night blocks its production. Research has been done on melatonin supplements for sleep disorders, such as jet lag, disruptions of the body’s internal “clock” insomnia, and problems with sleep among people who work night shifts. It has also been studied for dementia symptoms. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which is located just above your middle brain and is only the size of a pea. Its production and release are stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant molecule, with also proven antihypertensive and lipid-lowering effects.
When to Take Melatonin
Melatonin plays a critical role in regulating our biological clock, or circadian rhythm and the timing of doses is important. It is normally produced in a part of the brain called the pineal gland and is released during the period of darkness from sundown to sunrise. When consumed as an oral supplement, it reaches a maximum concentration in your blood after 30 minutes. Many people must take melatonin in the evening before going to bed, but curiously there are others who should actually take it in the morning.
- For trouble falling asleep: Take melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime.
- For night owls: People with delayed sleep phase syndrome may want to take melatonin several hours before the desired bedtime. For example, if you naturally fall asleep at 2 a.m., but you desire to go to bed at 11 p.m., you may consider taking it as early as 9 p.m.
- For early birds: If you have symptoms of advanced sleep phase syndrome, where you wake up several hours too early, try taking it in the morning upon awakening. This condition is relatively rare, however, perhaps affecting less than 1 percent of people. If considering use in this way, consult with a sleep physician for guidance.
Proven benefits of Melatonin
- Can Support Better Sleep
Melatonin is commonly known as sleep hormone and for good reason. It’s one of the most popular sleep aids and a common natural remedy to treat issues like insomnia. Research has shown that melatonin can support better sleep.
- Can Promote Eye Health
Melatonin is high in antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage and keep your eyes healthy. Research suggests that melatonin could be beneficial in treating conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Melatonin may reduce the risk of eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the study, in addition to being a powerful antioxidant, melatonin may help control eye pigmentation and regulate the amount of light reaching the photoreceptors, protecting eyes from damage.
According to research, many people with autism do not produce enough melatonin, resulting in sleep disturbances. Several studies reported that melatonin not only improves sleep onset, quality, and duration, it is also associated with better daytime behaviors. However, more research is needed to determine the ideal dosage and timing of the sleep aid.
- Jet Lag
Jet lag is caused by rapid travel across several time zones, resulting in disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, and a feeling of overall discomfort. Several studies have found melatonin to be effective in combating the symptoms of jet lag.
- Melatonin Protects the Mitochondria in Cells and Inhibits Cell Death
The mitochondria are the parts of the cell responsible for generating energy. When they produce energy, ROSs (reactive oxygen species) and RNSs (reactive nitrogen species) are its by-products. These ROSs and RNSs damage mitochondrial DNA and proteins, leading to cell death. Melatonin is naturally occurring in the parts of the body that need it the most, including the heart, brain, and nervous system. By acting as an antioxidant, it protects and cleans up the mitochondria of the cells and prevents disease in these parts of the body when present in healthy amounts.
Supplements and dosage of Melatonin
Melatonin is available over-the-counter at many pharmacies and health supplement stores as tablets, capsules, softgels, lozenges, gummies, tinctures, and other preparations. There is no daily recommended amount for melatonin, but it is typically sold in doses ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg. Healthcare professionals typically recommend starting with the lowest doses and gradually increasing your intake until you find the amount that works for you. In research studies, 3 mg of melatonin was the standard dose. Melatonin is sold as a supplement, so it is available without a prescription but is not regulated by the FDA.
There are different formulation and dosage forms of Melatonin like Tablets, Capsules, Softgels, lozenges, gummies, tinctures, etc (Nature's Velvet Melatonin is one of the examples).
Most doctors, healthcare providers, and other experts consider melatonin is generally safe. However, it can cause side effects when people take it in more than the recommended amounts. Consuming too much of this supplement could lead to an accidental overdose. If you are interested to try melatonin, start with a lower dose supplement. For instance, start with 0.5 mg (500 mcg) or 1 mg 30 minutes before going to bed. If that doesn’t seem to help you fall asleep, try increasing your dose to 3–5 mg.
Side Effects & Safety
Supplemental melatonin is considered safe, and no research has revealed any serious side effects to date. Yet, more research is needed to evaluate its long-term effects. Current evidence suggests that melatonin supplements are safe, non-toxic, and not addictive. That being said, some people may experience mild side effects, such as sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Melatonin may also interact with a variety of medications. These include blood thinners, blood pressure medication, and antidepressants. If you take any of the above, it’s best to check with your doctor before beginning a supplement.
Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating your body’s sleep cycle. Melatonin is a powerful supplement that can help you fall asleep, especially if you have insomnia or jet lag. Melatonin is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to treat eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy. Studies show that melatonin can lengthen total sleep time, shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and enhance sleep quality in children and adults. It’s also associated with other health benefits, as well. If you would like to try melatonin, start with a lower dose of 0.5–1 mg, taken 30 minutes before bed. If that doesn’t work, you can increase your dose to 3–5 mg.
Now don't worry about where to find the product. We did the survey for you and here are the details.
The contents of the Site, such as the text, images, graphics, etc. are for informational purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment or diagnosis. We recommend that you consult a qualified medical practitioner with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for implementing any of the information from the site.
- Rakesh Gupta