What Is The Melatonin?
Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine for chemistry nerds, is a hormone that plays a number of roles in the body but most importantly, it regulates sleep and wakefulness. So if you have sleep problems and want to ask Sleeping Beauty for advice, keep on reading.
What Does Melatonin Do?
To put it bluntly, melatonin makes it easier for you to sleep. To understand its function, you should learn first about circadian rhythms in which melatonin plays a crucial role.
That we feel sleepy or awake is controlled by the circadian “clock” found an area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN uses the daily cycle of night and day to regulate body activity. Exposure to light prompts the SCN to send signals to other parts of the brain that are responsible for functions causing wakefulness. Thanks for the SCN, they can raise body temperature and release stimulating hormones like cortisol. As a result, you will feel awake and alert for a new day.
When nightfall comes, the SCN sends the opposite signals so that body temperature can be lowered and your blood becomes teeming with sleep-inducing melatonin while cortisol levels plummet, and your body knows that it’s bedtime. In other words, the more melatonin there is in your blood, the more sleepy you will feel.
What Can I Use Melatonin For?
For sleep problems, of course. Due to its biological function, you can use melatonin for the following conditions:
- Insomnia: Melatonin can treat a variety of sleep disorders with mixed results. Medical research shows that melatonin is effective in improving sleep duration and sleep quality. But the result is short-term and will disappear if you stop taking melatonin for a long time.
- Changes in sleep-wake cycles: if you are going to fly to another time zone, you can use melatonin to reduce the effects of jet lag. For rotating or night shifts workers, melatonin can ease sleep problems. It can also help blind people who can sense day and night to establish sleep-wake cycles.
Additionally, melatonin has the following extra benefits:
- Relieving some kinds of headache.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Easing the adverse effects of cancer treatment.
- Slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reducing anxiety disorder.
You can clear see that a good sleep is the precursor to all of those effects.
What Side Effects Does Melatonin Have?
A few cases of headaches, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness in melatonin users have been reported. But in general, melatonin is safe for adults. It can be used for a long time with few serious consequences.
Children shouldn’t take multiple doses of melatonin in a short term because the hormone can interfere with their development during adolescence. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are recommended not to use melatonin. People with depression, diabetes and high blood pressure should also avoid it because it can have negative interactions with medicine for those illnesses
How Should I Use Melatonin?
If you want to use melatonin to aid sleep, you should take 1mg or 2mg 30 minutes before going to bed. It is perfectly safe for adults to take melatonin every day as melatonin addiction is virtually un-heard of. For those affected by sleep disorders, two or three hours before bedtime is best to take melatonin.
However, you should bear in mind that you shouldn’t take melatonin before driving or engaging in intellectual activities that require alertness. While melatonin overdose is not fatal, it’s naturally bad to consume it excessively. After all, too much can be too bad.