Natural allied with a main role in controlling sleep-wake rhythm, melatonin has lots of benefits for the organism. Because it`s a very powerful antioxidant, it aids prevent and even treat numerous diseases and medical conditions.
Melatonin has been found at the end of 1950s (at that time being studies its effects on sleep), and then being available as a food supplement starting with 1990s.
Table of Contents
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is that specific hormone that plays a vital role in the organism`s health. At a normal circadian rhythm, melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain as soon as the evening starts. This way, the hormone prepares the body for sleep by fulfilling a series of functions which influence longevity and well being.
Imbalances in the production and functioning of melatonin might produce devastating effects, from a simple depression to a serious cancer or even a life expectancy that is diminished considerably.
What Is the Role of Melatonin?
During sleep, melatonin starts to work by preventing energy hormones from being active, so the organism can regenerate all its resources. This hormone inhibits the conscious activity of the brain, blocking the concentration and thinking activities. The hormone also removes oxygen and other nutrients from the muscle tissues and other various cells, so that physical activity isn`t possible anymore.
Melatonin is considered to be the waste collector of the organism, as the hormone penetrates each cell of the organism and cleans free radicals or other various harmful toxins. For this particular reason, melatonin is also considered a very powerful oxidant.
Another role of this hormone is to slow down the heart`s functionality as well as other the functionality of other vital organs by exerting a constriction effect on blood vessels from the body`s members.
Therefore, the blood is propelled from all the extremities to the vital organs, the blood pressure decreases significantly and the heart rate slows down. Due to this reason, even patients who suffer from hypertension benefits from a normal blood pressure when they sleep.
Also, this hormone causes a decrease in the internal temperature of the body, felt between 02.00 and 04.00 in the morning, due to blood vessel deprivation. In a body that is healthy, the temperature will usually increase by 3 degrees throughout the day, after the effects of this hormone disappear.
Light is the main factors which influences his hormone that is produced by the organism. In the winter season, when the days shorten, the organism secretes the hormone earlier. Also, the production of melatonin is decreased with aging. Some elderly persons might not benefit from any amount of this hormone.
Role of Melatonin Supplements
As this hormone fulfills roles that are vitally important in the natural regulation of physiological states, melatonin has been introduced in many food supplements meant to treat various disorders associated with difficulty sleeping or changes of time zone. Specialists try to find other curative properties of melatonin for the following purposes:
- Treating seasonal depressions.
- Regulating circadian rhythm for persons who work at night.
- Correcting or preventing the states of confusion after surgery.
- Relieving headache and migraines.
Some specialty studies have found that imbalances in the production of melatonin can be closely related to the increase in the cases of cancer in both sexes, especially in the case of people with day/night alternative work schedules. For instance, a recent research has found that women who work in shifts might have a 50% higher risk of developing breast cancer, and men with the same schedule at work have 40% higher chances of suffering bone or colorectal cancer.
Other researchers try to use melatonin in the purpose of slowing down the natural process of aging and increase the immunity`s resistance to infections.
Administration of Melatonin Supplements
At low doses, melatonin supplements are quite safe, both in the short term as well as in the medium or long term. Still, their administration should be made under strict medical supervision. Children, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers are the ones exposed to the potential side effects of melatonin overdose. – More info!
- Persistent drowsiness;
- Unusually intense dreams;
- Fluctuations in blood pressure;
- Low Internal body temperature;
- Morning dizziness.
Also, supplements of melatonin might cause vertigo and lethargy, so it`s not really advisable to drive cars or handle machines during this treatment.
Recommended doses of melatonin supplements are 0.2 mg to 20 mg in adults, depending on their medical reasons for which they are used.
Is It Bad to Take Melatonin?
This hormone has been used in a safe manner in some patients for up to 2 years. Still, it may lead to side effects that include daytime sleepiness, irritability, headache, dizziness, short-term depression and abdominal cramps. Don`t use machinery or drive for 4 – 5 hours after consuming melatonin supplements.
How Much Melatonin Is Safe to Take?
For issues when trying to fall asleep, people take between 0.3 and 5 mg of melatonin on a daily basis for not more than 9 months. For sleeping issues in persons with disturbances that involve sleep-wake cycles, they can take between 2 and 12 mg at bedtime for not more than 4 weeks.
How Do You Get Melatonin Naturally?
Here are a few ways that can help you increase your melatonin levels:
- No artificial light during the night – Artificial or ambient light will block the melatonin production required to fall asleep.
- No LED lights during the night – Our sun gives off around 25% blue light. On the other hand, computer screens, televisions, LED light bulbs or cell phones give off levels of blue light at around 35%.
- No Wi-Fi or EMF exposure during the night – You may already know that EMFS are produced by just about any electrical device out there. Usually, the levels of EMF become dangerous when you get exposed to them for prolonged time intervals and to high EMF levels. When it comes to Wi-Fi, there`s little research for now, but still – it`s best to stay safe.
- Use more of the sun`s light – We all need an optimal sunlight amount in order to produce an optimal melatonin amount.
- Regulate your intake of caffeine – There are some people who have realized that if they consume a cup of coffee too late in the evening, they may not be able to fall asleep at night. Excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages or coffee may decrease the production of melatonin.
- Take a hot bath during the night – The latest studies who that if you`ll take a hot bath at night, you`ll relax your body and offer it a boosting effect in terms of melatonin levels.
- Consume rich foods in melatonin – There are lots of such foods from which to choose if you want to increase your levels of melatonin. More on this below!
Dietary supplements of melatonin can be bought from pharmacies or online sites. There are several natural melatonin sources:
- Whole grains;
- Olive oil;
- Grape peel;
- Lean meat;
- Dairy items.
Melatonin obtained from natural sources can generally be used for its antioxidant effects, but also for treating sleep disorders (although they are less used for this purpose because the intake of melatonin in foods is quite low).
When you want to take melatonin from food, you have to remember that their cooking at high temperature or fermentation affects the available amount of the substance. Ideally, you should attempt to consume fresh and unprocessed food free of melatonin.
In cases that the doses of melatonin supplements are required to regulate the sleep program or to relieve the discomfort which is caused by time difference, the solution consists of administering food supplements which offer enough doses of melatonin.
In this case, ask your doctor about the possible interactions that the supplements may have with other drugs. For instance, calcium-based betablockers, which is prescribed for angina, heart conditions or hypertension, inhibit the absorption of melatonin.