melatonin - the solution to your insomnia?

Melatonin: The Solution to Your Insomnia?


By on 24 November, 2015

Insomnia affects many people and can really impact one’s life in a negative way. Without getting sufficient rest it is very difficult to perform optimally the next day and have sharp focus. Prolonged sleep deprivation can impact your decision-making abilities, your reflexes and even your relationships with other people. Suffering from insomnia cannot be pleasant. There are many reasons why someone could be suffering from it and there are probably several ways you can try and resolve your insomnia condition. One of the methods that could help is getting regular exercise. But when that doesn’t solve it completely, people will likely seek medical advice and medical treatment. Melatonin is one supplement which is believed to help treat insomnia. There are different opinions on its effectiveness for overcoming insomnia, but one thing for sure is that melatonin is linked with sleep cycles. So what is this thing called melatonin?

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland. This gland produces the hormone in the late evening after the sun has gone down and effectively lets you know that it is time to go to sleep. Light has a direct impact on how much melatonin the gland produces. Melatonin is what makes your bed look so inviting in at night. Melatonin blood levels remain high throughout the night and then drop in the morning to a very low level during the day that is almost undetectable. Melatonin can therefore be prevented from being released if the person is not in a dimly lit environment. Even artificial lighting can prevent the production of melatonin in the evening and throughout the night. Melatonin production also drops with age and older adults produce very little of it.

 Melatonin as a Supplement

In some people, taking melatonin as a supplement seems to help improve sleep. There is some research that suggests that melatonin supplements can help reset the body clock. This is why it is sometimes used to overcome jet lag or to assist people who do shift work. Melatonin can reduce the amount of time before falling asleep or prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night. It has also been linked to other benefits but I am only covering the sleep-related benefits here.

Is Melatonin Safe?

While some research suggests that melatonin is effective in improving sleep cycles, others show no effect. However, there is no evidence that taking melatonin is unsafe. According to the website WebMD (webmd.com), it has been used safely by mouth for up to 2 years by some people. However, it does site some minor side-effects including daytime sleepiness, stomach cramps, irritability and feelings of depression. But these should go away when you stop taking the supplement. You should also not drive or use heavy machinery for 6 hours after taking melatonin.

CAUTION: Do NOT take melatonin with sedative medication. It can also pose a risk on people with high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and bleeding disorders. Always consult a medical professional before taking any supplement.

Final Thoughts

Melatonin has been linked with improving sleep cycles. It is a naturally produced hormone in the body but can also be supplemented through over-the-counter products. It is believed to be safe to use as a supplement but there is debate over its effectiveness to improve sleep or help treat insomnia. It is essential to take the correct dosage of this supplement and it is also important to get the timing right. This supplement may make you feel drowsy and it is therefore recommended not to operate heavy machinery for a few hours after taking melatonin.  Melatonin is your “sleep hormone”. It tells your body that the sun has gone down and it’s time to get to bed. It seems logical then that if you have low levels of melatonin in your blood, it could affect your ability to sleep well. Therefore, correct supplementation should help improve sleep cycles and ability to sleep. We should see more conclusive evidence surfacing over the coming years as more studies are carried out. Finally, if you are considering taking melatonin as a supplement, consult a medical professional to find out if it is the correct thing for you.

 

That’s it….hope you get a good night’s sleep!

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