As some of you may know, melatonin is an effective and safe way to improve your ability to sleep. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. When the body releases it into the blood stream, it encourages you to fall asleep. Using melatonin, along with light therapy, can be an effective way to improve overall sleep patterns for some people. Let us look again at how beneficial is melatonin for sleeping.
The Sleep Clock
According to the National Sleep Foundation, melatonin is critical to sleep regulation. Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle or internal clock that begins at the start of the day when you first experience light. The first light of the day stimulates the release of some hormones that help to wake you up, gets your metabolism moving, and even adjusts your body’s temperature. This process also begins to slow you down at nightfall, when the body begins to release melatonin. For sleep-deprived individuals, taking supplements can encourage the regulation of the sleep cycle.
How Melatonin Helps
There are some instances when you should consider using melatonin for a sleep aid. It is particularly beneficial for individuals who wake and sleep at non-normal times of the day. The body is programmed to sleep while it is dark outdoors. If you are forced to sleep during the daytime or to wake during the nighttime, this will alter your energy levels and your body’s ability to stick to its sleep cycle. This is when taking melatonin for sleep can help.
Melatonin is effective in other instances as well, including the following:
- It can help as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder, when the lack of sunlight during wintertime can lead to problems sleeping and ineffective energy levels.
- It has been reported to aid in reducing chronic cluster headaches, though individuals should report this condition to their doctors as well.
- It can help to improve overall sleep patterns especially for those who work during the late evening hours.
- It aids in improving the ability to fall asleep for some moderate insomniacs.
Keep in mind that when melatonin is taken in supplement form, it may have other effects. In some studies, it has been linked to slowing the spread of disease, including cancer. It may help to improve the immune system or work to slow down the body’s natural aging process. There is even some evidence that melatonin may help with hair loss, since it works to regulate fur production in animals.
Should You Take It?
Taking melatonin for sleep is definitely a sound option, unless your body has some special intolerance to melatonin supplements. It is safe to take in small doses for the short term, although there is no fixed recommended dosage.
For more regular use, you might want to speak with your doctor about its safety as there are some side effects if taken incorrectly. Those who are pregnant or nursing, as well as children, should refrain from taking melatonin. Also, melatonin should not be taken during your waking hours (like the daytime), as you may feel drowsy and be unable to drive, or operate machinery.