Chances are that if you’ve ever struggled with your sleep, you’ve heard someone say, “You should try melatonin.” But exactly what is melatonin? It’s not a drug, and it’s not an herb. It’s actually a hormone produced by your body. In this article you will learn more about what melatonin is, and how when taken the right way it could help you regain a good night’s sleep. Let’s begin with a closer examination of how melatonin plays an important part in your body’s sleep cycle.
What is Melatonin? A Closer Look
In the store, melatonin is available as an over-the-counter supplement, usually in the sleep section. However, what you may not realize is that your body produces melatonin every day. Closely related to the hormone serotonin, melatonin is actually secreted by your pineal gland, and it is controlled by your body’s internal clock. During the evening, your body produces more melatonin, and during the day vice versa. Many people have a vague notion that melatonin can help you rest, but few understand how. In short, melatonin is the hormone that signals to your body that it’s time to sleep.
What Is Melatonin Used For? Key Benefits Examined
So if our body produces melatonin, why would we need a melatonin supplement? People find that melatonin benefits them in a number of ways. Here are just a few of the key benefits:
Regain Your Circadian Rhythm
If you’ve ever dealt with extreme jet lag or worked 3rd shift, you know how annoying it can be to feel out of sync with your sleep cycle. Because melatonin helps signal to your body that it’s time to sleep, it can help ease the disorientation that comes with odd hours and travelling. Taking a melatonin supplement can help you regain your circadian clock and get your normal sleep rhythm back in order.
Melatonin Could Improve Sleep Quality
According to a study released in Drugs and Aging, melatonin showed promising results as an effective sleep aid. The trial found that 2 mg of melatonin PR (prolonged-release) was associated with considerable improvements in sleep quality in participants 55 and older. Patients reportedly slept longer and felt more alert the next morning. Furthermore, unlike many pharmaceutical sleep aids, melatonin was found to be non habit-forming.
Melatonin May Boost Immunity
Many are familiar with the sleep benefits of melatonin, but few have heard that it could also boost your immune system. Some research indicates that melatonin may have powerful antioxidant properties. One study reports that melatonin is “effective in reducing oxidative stress under a remarkably large number of circumstances.” Furthermore, melatonin may also inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) that produces inflammatory chemicals in the body.
So, How much Melatonin Should I take?
This is actually an issue of importance because there is so much confusion surrounding melatonin dosage. Over the years, many health stores have sold melatonin with high recommended amounts (over 5mg.) This is not advisable for a number of reasons. Taking more than 2 mg of melatonin before bed can lead to unwanted side effects such as vivid nightmares and a feeling of being drowsy/hungover the next day. If you want to take a nightly melatonin supplement, we recommend starting at as low of a dose as possible and working your way up as needed.
How To Choose A Melatonin Supplement
As with many health supplements, you may be overwhelmed at the variety and selection of melatonin tablets on the market. If you are looking for melatonin to improve your sleep, there are a few things to consider. As we stated earlier, it may be ideal to start with a low-dose option (less than 3 mg). Also to maximize the effect on your sleep, you might also look for a supplement that combines melatonin with natural and herbal sleep aids.