The pineal gland produces the hormone melatonin. “Sleep hormone” is another name for it. It helps with sleep and regulates your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock). When it gets dark outside, the body makes more melatonin, which tells the brain to sleep. Light causes a decrease in melatonin synthesis and awakens the body.
People typically take melatonin to treat sleep issues including jet lag and insomnia. Dementia, chronic pain, and depression, among many other illnesses, are also treated with them. This article will give you an idea about the benefits of melatonin.
The benefits of food, exercise, and sleep all contribute to optimum health. Your health, happiness, and cognitive function all benefit from getting enough sleep. Good sleep is characterized by the qualities listed below.
- 30 minutes or fewer after getting into bed, you’re asleep.
- Normally, you get a restful night’s sleep, awakening just once or twice.
- If you do awaken, you fall asleep again in less than 20 minutes.
- You feel energized the next day.
The reasons for poor sleep quality are-
- Depressive symptoms
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
- Poor mental health
- Insomnia disorder
- Undiagnosed sleep disorder
- Sleep apnea
Sleep disorders are conditions that cause sleep disturbances or prevent you from getting enough restful sleep, which can cause symptoms including daytime fatigue. If any of the following apply to you, you have a sleep disorder:
- You usually struggle to get to sleep.
- You experience vivid, dream-like events while you drift off to sleep or rest.
- Despite getting enough hours of sleep, you feel lethargic next day.
- Your ability to perform routine daylight tasks has been impaired or lessened.
Types of Sleep Disorders
Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
A person with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) has sleep that is two hours or more past what is regarded as a reasonable or customary bedtime. If your sleep disturbance is also affecting the social, professional, or other aspects of your life, you might have DSPS. Early childhood may see the onset of DSPS, but adolescence is when it typically manifests or gets worse.
Insomnia is the continuous inability to fall asleep despite efforts to do so. Additionally, excessive daytime drowsiness and other cognitive deficits occur in insomniacs while they are awake. When insomniacs have symptoms at least three times each week for at least three months, their condition is deemed chronic.
Sleep disorders known as parasomnias are defined by aberrant sleep patterns or physiological occurrences that take place during particular sleep stages.
Sleep paralysis happens right before sleep and is brought on by an imbalance between the body and mind. It takes place as someone shifts from being awake to being asleep. During these shifts, you can be paralyzed or silent for a split second to several minutes. Others may feel pressure or if they are choking.
Extreme daytime sleepiness is a hallmark of the sleep disorder narcolepsy. This has serious implications and may cause people to nod off while working or operating machinery. Narcolepsy is characterized by an extreme demand for sleep that results from a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.
Some medical professionals used to classify fibromyalgia, a chronic pain illness that is closely linked to sleep issues and several sleep disorders, as a sleep disorder.
Unrefreshing sleep, which can encompass many sleep cycle dysfunctions, is one of the main fibromyalgia symptoms and is thought to be brought on by intricate immune system and brain chemistry abnormalities.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
A depressive disorder having a seasonal pattern, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is recurring. It frequently causes excessive slumber throughout the winter, and its main symptoms are of profound depression.
Extreme daytime sleepiness or protracted overnight sleep are frequent symptoms of hypersomnia. People with hypersomnia, as opposed to feeling fatigued from insufficient or disrupted sleep at night, are forced to take numerous naps throughout the day, frequently at inappropriate moments such as at work, during a meal, or in conversation.
Anxiety, increased irritability, decreased energy, restlessness, sluggish thinking, slow speaking, loss of appetite, hallucinations, and memory problems are a few symptoms that may be present.
Causes of Sleep Disorders
Several things can contribute to sleep issues. Although their underlying causes may vary, all sleep disorders have as their common denominator a disruption or exaggeration of the body’s normal cycle of sleep and daytime wakefulness. Some factors are-
- Putting in night shifts
- Medical drugs
Diagnosis of Sleep Disorders
During a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram (PSG), certain physical activities are electronically transmitted and recorded. For some people, a sleep study (also known as home sleep apnea testing) can be performed. A skilled healthcare professional use the recordings as data to examine whether or not you have a sleep condition.
It’s crucial to pay attention to your sleeping patterns, keep a sleep diary, and talk with your healthcare practitioner about the patterns and characteristics of your sleep, to ascertain whether you have a sleep problem.
Uses and Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin for Sleep Benefits
Melatonin plays a crucial role in maintaining circadian rhythmicity, controlling sleep, and ensuring the survival of neurons. Melatonin offers a much less harmful alternative to the prescription therapy for sleep problems now in use.
Melatonin can also be used to treat the circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the visually blind people.
If you’re considering taking any supplements, especially if you take medication or have a medical condition, let your doctor know. The natural version of melatonin might be contaminated with a virus or have other issues. Pick a synthetic form of melatonin if you take it.
How Much Melatonin is Enough
Although there is no set dose of melatonin for humans, a range of 1 to 5 milligrams generally seems to work. Adults can take melatonin a couple hours prior to going to sleep.
Women who are expecting or breast-feeding shouldn’t use melatonin without first talking to their doctor. The safety of melatonin in this population has not been adequately studied.
The dosage that works best for kids will depend on their sleep problems. Children’s doses for treating insomnia typically range from 1 to 2 milligrams and rise with age.
Other Benefits of Melatonin
Usually, melatonin is used to treat sleep disorders, but it has other benefits too.
Melatonin is almost solely produced by photoreceptor cells in the retina and under some pathological conditions by other retinal cell types. Retinal melatonin production and levels are typically higher at night and lower throughout the day in vertebrate species.
Healthy levels of melatonin from indoles may benefit eye health. This is because the hormone has strong antioxidant properties that may lower your risk of developing eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Exogenous melatonin supplementation may also improve ocular health, but further clinical and translational research is required to confirm its usefulness.
May Lessen Tinnitus Symptoms
An ear disorder known as tinnitus is characterized by ringing. Tinnitus may be annoying. Tinnitus noises can occasionally make other sounds around you sound louder.
Using melatonin alone or in conjunction with tinnitus, treatments may help manage this problem while enhancing sleep melatonin alone or in conjunction with tinnitus, treatments may help manage this problem while enhancing sleep, according to a study of five research. But because of their poor quality, these studies had a limited impact on the review’s conclusions.
Could Lessen Seasonal Depression Symptoms
There are estimates that seasonal depression affects 5% to 10% of people worldwide. This particular type of depression happens annually at around the same time, with symptoms often beginning in late fall or early winter.
Changes in circadian rhythm have been linked to seasonal depression in a study of 68 individuals, however, symptoms can be effectively managed by taking melatonin supplements each day.
However, additional research on melatonin’s impact on seasonal depression is still equivocal.
Recent research suggests that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have problems with melatonin physiology and circadian rhythm. Many people with autism do not make enough melatonin, which causes sleep difficulties.
Numerous research shows that melatonin is linked to better daytime behaviors in addition to enhancing the start, quality, and duration of sleep.
To determine the right dosage and time for a sleep aid, more research is required.
Jet lag, which is brought on by abrupt time zone changes, has an impact on sleep cycles, daily energy levels, and general discomfort. With more time zones, melatonin treatment appears to be more effective at reducing jet lag. With the proper time of melatonin administration, self-rated jet lag can be decreased by half. A single dose of oral melatonin (3-5 mg) can advance sleep by up to 1-1.5 hours. Research suggests that melatonin helps reduce the effects of jet lag.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have very low melatonin levels. Nearly half of those with the condition experience sleep problems and “sundowning,” which is when symptoms worsen in the late afternoon and evening.
Using melatonin supplements helps Alzheimer’s patients sleep better and have less symptom deterioration in the evening. Additionally, it has been discovered that melatonin slows cognitive decline in those with Alzheimer’s disease, presumably by shielding brain cells from the harmful protein beta-amyloid.
The hormone melatonin may also be helpful for people with Parkinson’s disease. Taking more melatonin may help affected adults sleep better because Parkinson’s disease is linked to disturbed melatonin secretion in the brain.
Fights Against Cancer
Fighting a variety of cancers, such as breast and liver cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, and brain metastases from solid tumors, is one of melatonin’s most significant uses.
According to a study, women with metastatic breast cancer who had not responded to tamoxifen showed a better response to the chemotherapeutic treatment when given melatonin supplements (20 mg each evening). More than a quarter of the participants, whose disease was otherwise anticipated to advance quickly, started to respond to the chemotherapy.
The melatonin supplementation also reduced anxiety for the majority of the ladies. Melatonin is thought to block the aromatase enzyme, which is in charge of the local manufacture of estrogens, and may thus aid in the prevention of hormone-responsive breast tumors, according to laboratory research.
Ten randomized, controlled trials that examined the effects of melatonin (either alone or in combination with other treatments) on patients with different forms of cancer were included in a meta-analysis by researchers. Regardless of the kind of cancer or the melatonin dosage, supplementation with melatonin lowered the relative risk of mortality at one year by an astonishing 34%. Notably, no negative impacts were mentioned.
Might Improve Your Immune System
According to the Women’s Health Network, melatonin can activate T-cells in white blood cells, which results in a powerful immunological response. In addition to assisting your body’s immune system, this natural hormone is a potent antioxidant that can shield cells from oxidative harm without inducing free radicals.
In one study, researchers gave melatonin supplements to old mice at night and discovered that the mice started to produce more immune molecules. Based on the level of melatonin in the mice’s bloodstreams immediately before bed, researchers were able to forecast immunological function. This shows that older persons who want to strengthen their immunity may succeed by taking a melatonin pill.
Since melatonin production declines with age, taking a supplement or consuming melatonin-rich foods may help strengthen your immune system.
Acid Reflux Disease Treatment
According to University Health News, melatonin can also assist with acid reflux, which affects 14 to 20 per cent of individuals in the US. This is due to the hormone’s ability to stop the secretion of stomach acids and reduce the creation of nitric oxide, which relaxes the sphincter that prevents acid from entering your esophagus. The hormone is also generated in your mouth and stomach.
Female Reproductive Health
Melatonin can lessen the severity of menopausal and perimenopausal women’s uncomfortable feelings and help them sleep better.
In one study, perimenopausal and menopausal women between the ages of 42 and 62 received daily melatonin supplements for six months. According to the study’s findings, most women said their mood had generally improved and their depression symptoms had greatly lessened.
This seems to suggest that supplementing with melatonin may help thyroid and pituitary function recover more quickly in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Additionally, it aids in reducing the side effects of menopause and perimenopause, including sleep difficulties.
Melatonin has demonstrated the potential for easing pain in endometriosis too. In a trial involving 40 women of reproductive age, 10 mg of melatonin per day reduced pain scores and dysmenorrhea by over 40% each. Melatonin-taking women also consumed fewer painkillers.
Human stomach ulcers can be treated with melatonin and its precursor L-tryptophan. They offered a defense against H. pylori and aspirin-induced lesions. Melatonin administration also hastens the ulcers’ healing process.
Melatonin reduces oxidative stress by as much as 88%, strengthening the intestinal barrier.
Due to its antioxidant effects, stomach irritation may be reduced. These outcomes may offer defense against conditions including colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, melatonin aids in avoiding the poisoning-related death of stomach lining cells.
Starved rats in one research developed gastrointestinal discomfort. One week of melatonin therapy improved the quality of the stomach lining.
Many pharmacies and health supplement retailers provide melatonin over the counter in the form of pills, capsules, soft gels, lozenges, gummies, tinctures, and other forms. Melatonin is commonly sold in quantities ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg, but there is no daily suggested amount for this substance.
Generally speaking, healthcare specialists advise starting with the lowest doses and progressively increasing your intake until you reach the effective level. The recommended dose of melatonin in trials was 3 mg. Since melatonin is marketed as a supplement, it can be purchased over the counter and is not subject to FDA oversight.
Side Effects of Melatonin Supplements
- Drowsiness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and nightmares are just a few of the serious adverse effects of exogenous melatonin. Children who use melatonin may also become agitated and wet the bed.
- You can experience a “hangover” if you take too much melatonin, although the feeling normally passes soon.
- Melatonin may make seizures more likely when combined with seizure threshold-lowering drugs.
- In the bodies of elderly folks, melatonin may remain active for longer. They can experience daytime drowsiness as a result, if they take melatonin supplements.
- Melatonin has been shown to raise blood glucose levels in diabetics and raise blood pressure in people on hypertension and blood pressure medications. Melatonin can also make central nervous system depressants more sedating and reduce the effectiveness of immuno-suppressive treatments and epilepsy drugs.
- Despite the fact that melatonin is sold over the counter (OTC), you should speak with a physician before using it. This is particularly valid if you currently use supplements or medications or if you suffer from a medical ailment.
- The amount of some medications in your system may rise or fall as a result of melatonin altering how your body processes them. Medication interactions can affect your body’s melatonin levels as well.
Natural Sleep Aids to Enhance Sleep Quality
- Get some sunlight early in the day. You can wake up and restore your circadian cycle by spending just 15 to 30 minutes outdoors in the sun.
- Establish a tranquil setting in your room. Keep it cool, quiet, and dark.
- Because of the radiation that comes from the screens of different digital devices, spending more time in front of the screen might induce sleep disorders like insomnia. Put on blue light-blocking glasses.
- Two hours before going to bed, stop watching TV and dim all the lights.
- Avoid eating late in the evening to improve sleep quality.
- Warm shower before going to bed.
- One of the best strategies to make sure you get non-disrupted sleep-wake cycles is to exercise often during the day.
Treatment for Sleep Disorders
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I), which can help you control or eliminate the unpleasant thoughts and actions that keep you up at night, is often the first line of treatment for insomniacs. Usually, CBT-I is just as effective as or even better than sleep aids.
In the cognitive component of CBT-I, you learn to identify and modify thoughts that interfere with your ability to sleep. It can also be required to break the loop where you worry about sleep so much that you have trouble falling asleep.
You can use prescription sleeping drugs to aid in falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Most of the time, doctors advise against using prescription sleeping pills exclusively for longer than a few weeks, however some medications are safe to use for a very long time.
Sleeping pills or other sleep aids are often used to treat insomnia and intermittent sleepiness. Sleeping tablets are the most popular sleep aids.
Studies have shown that the usage of sleep aids is constantly increasing; one study found that roughly 3% of adults had used a prescription sleep aid in the month prior.
In 2012, 3 million Americans used oral melatonin sleep aids, according to a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s a good idea to know how melatonin functions precisely if you fall into one of these categories or are considering using it for sleep.
Antihistamines are widely used to treat allergies, while they are also advertised as sleeping aids due to their sedative effects.
Antihistamine sleep aids may contain active ingredients that also cure other illnesses including cough, fever, or congestion in addition to being marketed as single-ingredient medicines.
For better overall sleep quality, you should take the required measures to maintain your melatonin levels during the night in a healthy, normal range.
Melatonin may have fewer dangers and negative effects than pharmaceutical drugs used to treat sleep disorders. Nevertheless, exercise caution while picking a melatonin pill.
Similar to other dietary supplements, they are not subjected to FDA regulation. Before using melatonin, you should consult your doctor, especially if you have a medical problem or are already taking medication.