Scientifically known by its chemical name N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine, Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone. Over the years, melatonin supplements have been used as a natural sleeping aid. In fact, among users who have seen successful results, melatonin has been dubbed as the natural sleeping remedy.
The human body produces this hormone from its pineal gland as a response to light and dark cycles throughout the day. The production of melatonin and its levels signal the brain and body when to sleep and wake up.
Normally, the brain makes more melatonin once the sun starts setting. The levels then drop when the sun goes up, setting your body’s natural sleep cycle. And like any other hormones in the body, certain illnesses, lifestyle habits and other elements can cause an imbalance.
To solve this particular hormone’s imbalance, there are several kinds of melatonin supplements available in the market. These supplements are mostly extracted from synthetic sources, but there are some supplements that derive the hormone from animal pineal glands.
Over the years, research and clinical trials have shown these supplements to be beneficial for humans. The most prominent effect they have is on the improvement of sleep cycles and symptoms of sleep disorders like jet lag and insomnia. Along with a sleeping aid, studies also show that melatonin supplements have other general health benefits and properties including anti-aging, mood regulation, and improved skin.
Melatonin has caught this attention of scientists and users around the world as it offers a natural solution as a sleeping aid. And since they are natural compared to other sleeping pills, melatonin extracts are reportedly better.
Even though research is conducted to back the hypothesis, people still ask questions regarding whether melatonin actually works as a natural sleeping aid. In this article, we will address that and the mechanism of how melatonin supplements react in the body.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), more than 50-70 million US adults report having some sort of sleep or wakefulness disorder. But that’s not all, as there are millions of others who get insufficient sleep that doesn’t count as a sleep disorder.
The National Sleep Foundation in the US also reports that more than 45 percent of the people, who report some sort of sleeping disorder, also complained of the negative effects it had on their daily life.
This means that many people out of these seek prescription sleep aids. But as reported in various medical studies, these sleeping aids may be addictive and cause the person to feel lethargic and ‘hungover’ the next morning.
A natural alternative to these sleeping aids includes melatonin. As we mentioned in the paragraphs written above, melatonin is a hormone that naturally regulated the sleep cycle in our body. This means that melatonin supplements are beneficial for returning balance to melatonin levels.
Several scientific studies have shown results that melatonin is safe for use and can be used effectively to improve the quality of your sleep and fix your body’s biological clock. But that’s not it. Melatonin has also demonstrated the ability to improve symptoms of various sleep disorders.
The wellness benefits of melatonin supplements can help improve jet lag and get your body used to the local dark and night cycle. Other, more serious, disorders like chronic insomnia have also been seen to improve with the use of melatonin supplements right before sleeping.
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the human body. It is an essential part of our body’s circadian rhythm or biological clock.
Light perception controls the production of the hormone when it’s dark outside. The pineal gland starts producing more melatonin when the sun goes down, signaling the receptors to reduce metabolic activity and tire the body for sleep.
The following morning, when the sunlight hits our optic nerve, the receptors signal the pineal gland to drop melatonin production.
However, if this cycle gets interrupted due to travel, staying up late intentionally or some sleeping disorder, it can be difficult to realign it. This is the reason why people find it hard to go back to their normal sleeping schedules when they have traveled through different time zones.
Also, of you will also notice that it is hard to go back to sleep if you wake up during the day and turn the light on. Even if you turn the lights off immediately, the melatonin production doesn’t stop and you either can’t fall back asleep or take longer to do so.
Melatonin-related or circadian rhythm disorders are also common blind people as they can’t perceive light normally. Additionally, some of the medications like beta-blockers can cause excess stimulation at night, leading to disturbed sleeping patterns.
Aging is another factor that disturbs the natural production of melatonin. Studies show that the levels of melatonin drop naturally with age, meaning that people feel tired and sleep more often.
Melatonin supplements in all of these situations have proven to improve symptoms and treat several disorders. From encouraging longer sleep duration to reduce sleep onset, several studies back up the beneficial properties of melatonin. Read on to find out what and how sleep disorders and irregularities can help improve the quality of sleep, realign the body’s sleep cycle and have overall beneficial effects.
The use of melatonin supplements has been a subject of scientific research and clinical studies for a long time. Several studies have shown these supplements to be safe and effective for treating mild sleep disorders.
For instance, a 2005 meta-analysis published in Sleep Medicine Reviews found that regular use of melatonin reduces the latency to sleep onset. This means that using melatonin reduces the time it takes to fall asleep (i.e. 7 minutes for healthy adults), increases sleep efficiency, and increases the total sleep duration.
Another 2005 meta-analysis showed that the average sleep duration in the test group was 13.7 minutes longer than the control or placebo group. Along with that, the supplements were also observed to improve the sleep cycle by having long-term positive changes in the body’s biological clock.
From the results of both these studies and others, melatonin may be considered appropriate for people struggling with insomnia or chronic insomnia. It helps the body regulate the production of melatonin and align with the light and dark cycles. This way, the body will start producing more melatonin when the sun sets, signaling the body to go to sleep. The biological clock will adjust itself and the person start getting more sleep.
Also, melatonin may be effective in improving the quality of sleep. This happens as melatonin regulates and reduces the activity in the brain that is responsible for making the body feel awake.
When the body is relaxed and sleep comes naturally with the sun going down, the person rests more deeply. This helps the person feel energized and awake when they actually have to be up and doing things.
Lastly, what makes melatonin suitable for use is the fact that it does not make the person dependent on the supplements. Some studies show that melatonin may not have any addictive properties, making it better than other commercial sleep aids.
Melatonin is known most commonly as a natural sleep aid that promotes healthy sleep. It helps people who have irregular sleep schedules and/or cannot go to sleep naturally. It can help realign their biological clock and encourage a natural sleep cycle.
For people who take too long to fall sleep, melatonin reduces that time while increasing sleep duration and quality. It triggers the brain to tire the body and induce sleep, leading to the person falling asleep quicker.
Previous reports from clinical studies and patient stories report people getting up, feeling more rested than they would feel without taking the supplement. The reduced metabolic and other activity in the body along with the body’s natural sleep cycle, all help the person have a more sound sleep.
One explanation for a more sound sleep cycle is reduced frequency of night-time urination. There have been several studies that suggest that melatonin may reduce the number of times one has to get up during the night to go to the bathroom. This factor can be the main reason in irregular sleeping, which can be solved with melatonin supplements.
Melatonin is also reported to improve sleep quality for people who have jet lag or have irregular work shifts. Along with that, there have been reports of people with restless leg syndrome also using melatonin to help them reduce the tremors in their leg.
Melatonin has also been reported to induce a deep REM sleep cycle, sometimes possibly encouraging lucid dreaming. The person might wake up feeling more alert, sharper and have more clarity of thought. Several studies have shown that waking up well-rested is linked to better performance throughout the day.
Melatonin supplements are mostly used to improve sleep cycles and treat various sleeping disorders. Besides insomnia, melatonin may be beneficial to treat jet lag, rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, shift-work disorder, and Melatonin can help to reduce anxiety.
Besides having positive effects as a sleeping aid, melatonin also provides benefits for other conditions as well. This simple hormone supplements can be used to help treat symptoms of non-sleep problems like nicotine withdrawals, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and seasonal affective disorder.
Other than these conditions, melatonin supplements might also be beneficial in the treatment of disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
However, there is a lack of scientific proof of melatonin being conclusively effective in treating these conditions. Addition clinical studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of these supplements in improving symptoms in these conditions.
Regardless of whether you use it to treat a sleep disorder or any other condition, the most prominent benefit of melatonin is it does not form habit. What is meant by this is that melatonin may not have an addictive tendency.
According to various Mayo Clinic reports many sleep aids have a relatively high addictive potential. Although these drugs are used more commonly than melatonin around the world, they have more undesirable effects.
Compared to these drugs, melatonin is a natural compound that improves the quality of sleep without causing it to create physical dependence. With this, melatonin is more suitable and safer for long-term use.
Now that you are aware that melatonin extracts and supplements can help regulate your sleep cycle, you might wonder what the right amount to take is. Before we answer that question, you should know that there are several different dosages of melatonin supplements currently available.
The general dosage available in markets for an average adult ranges from 0.2 to 20 mg. While dosage is a standard, it doesn’t mean the same dosage will work for you effectively. You will need to go through a trial and error procedure to determine the Melatonin dose that works most effectively for you and provides you the most amounts of benefits.
For people who have trouble falling asleep, the recommended dosage ranges between 0.3-5 mg of melatonin supplement once a day for up to 9 months. The supplement is taken right before bed to enhance the overall quality of sleep. Doses higher than that are used to treat more specific sleep disorders.
For instance, 2 to 3 mg of melatonin is used to treat primary insomnia over the course of 29 weeks. The treatment can be cut to a short time with high doses of 12 mg every day for up to 4 weeks. To treat secondary insomnia, 2-12 mg melatonin is advised for up to 4 weeks.
Keep in mind that higher doses are supposed to treat a disorder. You should always consult with your physician or doctor before consuming a high-dose melatonin supplement.
A study in 2013 reported that higher doses of melatonin supplements work better in various instances. The study, which was a meta-analysis in the PLoS One, showed that having melatonin can significantly increase the duration of sleep and helps people fall asleep faster. However, there was no significant improvement in the quality of sleep overall.
Combining the use of the supplement with good lifestyle habits like sleeping on time, not staying up late and a healthy diet can give you the most benefits in a shorter period of time.
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