Melatonin (M) is a sleep regulator, not an initiator

  • M (discovered in 1958) is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm or natural body clock
  • As daylight fades, levels of melatonin begin to rise about 1-3 hours before bedtime, nudging us to become sleep

  • In the morning, when the light hits the eyes, it signals the brain to halt melatonin production, and we grow alert 
  • M deficiency syndromes
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • insomnia
    • excessive fatigue
    • night eating syndrome
    • high blood pressure
    • sensitivity to stress
    • neurodegenerative disorders
  • Taken at the right time, in the right dose, M can repair a sleep schedule thrown off kilter by jet lag, a long weekend filled with late nights, certain circadian rhythm disorders
  • Those who took melatonin before bed fell asleep faster on average and slept longer
  • For some people, M can have a mild hypnotic effect 
  • M has its limits as a remedy for general sleeplessness
  • M supplements appear to be safe when used short-term, and less is known about the long-term safety 
  • M taking can have a big effect on treating circadian rhythm disorders like delayed sleep-wake phase disorders
  • M works for some people, but not for others, so you just have to try it and find out which one you are 
  • If you are an extreme night owl who only begins to feel sleepy at 4 a.m. and likes to sleep until noon you can take low-dose M (0.5 milligrams) at 11 p.m., well before your natural melatonin kicks in 
  • M can be helpful for children with autism spectrum disorders in cases of abnormal M pathways and lower than normal its levels 
  • Side effects 
      • a headache
      • nausea
      • dizziness
      • drowsiness
      • irritability
      • restless legs
      • skin pigmentation
      • thrombosis  
      • depressed mood

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