Secreted by the body’s pineal gland, melatonin is a hormone taken in supplement form by many people to help with a variety of sleep disorders. This hormone is normally regulated by the body, but there are a wide variety of factors that can influence melatonin production. Melatonin is used to correct jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome, changing work schedules and vacationing in another time zone.
The amount of melatonin the body naturally secretes depends on the age of the person and what kind of environment theyre in. Studies have shown as a person ages, the level of melatonin in their body decreases. The recommended dose ranges from 0.2 to 20 mg, depending on what specific condition the hormone is being used for.
Melatonin levels are highest at night, when a person is typically in a dark environment, and can be produced for up to 12 hours. Once daybreak hits, the amount of melatonin in the body are barely detectable, which causes a burst of energy.
The common mistake many people make with melatonin is that it will always make them fall asleep as soon as the pill or liquid is ingested and that they will stay asleep for longer. However, melatonin regulates the circadian rhythms of the body, helping someone achieve a more regular sleep cycle. This, in turn, will cause a person to be tired at the same time every night while keeping them awake throughout the day.
The problem many people run into is that their body doesnt properly secrete melatonin, meaning their body clock is off, which can result in restless nights and lack of energy in the morning. Taking a melatonin supplement tells the body to begin producing melatonin on its own as well, leading towards a better sleep.
Melatonin is safe for both short and long-term use with any side effects ceasing as soon as one stops taking the medication. However, many people take more than the recommended amount, with symptoms including daytime sleepiness, lower body temperature, nightmares, changes in blood pressure, internal bleeding and trouble getting up in the morning. Children and those who are nursing or pregnant shouldnt take melatonin or at least consult their doctor before beginning.
Anyone who decides to take melatonin should speak with their doctor to determine if its right for them and how to take it. Avoid supplements with large doses and only take melatonin for two weeks at a time to reset the sleep cycle.