Have you ever noticed that when we switch off daylight savings time in the fall your body automatically wants to go to sleep earlier? There are a lot of jokes about feeling the urge to hit the sack at 6PM when the time changes and it's dark earlier. That's the natural effect of a sudden switch in natural melatonin!
Melatonin is the only hormone synthesized by the brain pineal gland. It is released in response to darkness and it regulates our circadian rhythm and allows good sleep. Yet sleep disorders are on the rise in modern society and are associated with the epidemic of obesity, increased cardiovascular risk, chronic pain and gastrointestinal disorders. Focusing on circadian rhythm sleep is critical for good health.
Melatonin supplements have been shown too be effective in treating sleep disorders such as jet lag, insomnia in the elderly, increased sleep efficiency and increase sleep duration (total sleep time). Here are some quick things for you to know about melatonin:
Timing is important. You don't take it as "sleeping pill". It should be taken 2-4 hours before bedtime.
Melatonin has a number of positive effects besides regulation of circadian rhythm and promotion of sleep. It protects against certain neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons and sundowning syndrome in brain disorders.
It acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Newborn babies don't produce their own melatonin. Before birth they receive it from the placenta. After birth they can receive it through breast milk but it doesn't appear until they are 2-3 months old. Anyone with a newborn can tell you this.
Melatonin levels are stable until about age 40, when they start to decline with aging. People over 90 have levels that are far less than young adults.
Studies show no "hangover effect".
It is not addictive and there are no withdrawal symptoms.
It should not be used in high doses and 1-2mg is a safe and effective dose. (Because it can interfere with other medications, discuss taking melatonin with your physician)
Because melatonin can promote more time in REM sleep, people often report more vivid dream.
Melatonin is sold as a supplement, and is not regulated by the FDA.
A landmark study that looked at 31 different melatonin suppliers found melatonin content varied greatly from what was reported on the label.
You can read more about getting good sleep HERE
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