Melatonin is a hormone that manages the sleeping and waking cycles in the human body. It’s naturally produced by the pineal gland in our brain – with some trace amounts found in grain, meat, vegetables, fruits and a few other foods.
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Why Do We Need Melatonin?
Melatonin is necessary to regulate our body’s internal clock, mainly by telling us when to sleep and when to wake up. Its amount begins to rise from the start of the sunset, stays the highest during the night, and begins to drop in the morning just as the sun starts to rise.
Ideally, the melatonin supply produced by our own body and ingested with food is enough to ensure a healthy sleep cycle. However, people with various forms of mild or severe sleeping disorders suffer from insufficient melatonin and therefore have trouble falling asleep.
Complications Due to a Lack of Melatonin
Light from the sun has the greatest impact on melatonin levels in the human body, but these levels change depending on the season and weather. For example, our body creates less of the hormone than usual during the darker days in winter. That change can seriously affect people’s mood, with the most severe cases referred to as a seasonal affective disorder and winter depression.
The amount of melatonin in our body also decreases as we grow older, with older adults producing very little of it – sometimes none at all. Fortunately for them and people suffering from various forms of insomnia, melatonin can be easily bought in the form of food supplements, which can help deal with such disorders.
The Benefits of Melatonin Supplements
While the main purpose of using melatonin supplements is regaining a healthy sleep cycle, it happens to treat a wide range of conditions, both mild and severe:
- Jet lag
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Chronic headaches
- Disorienting feeling and sleep problems in recent surgery patients
Melatonin supplements can also be used to manage sleep cycles during night shifts.
Is it Safe to Take Melatonin Supplements?
Regular use of melatonin supplements may cause sleepiness, lower body temperature, vivid dreams, morning grogginess and insignificant changes in blood pressure. Just to be on the safe side, a doctor should be consulted before giving this supplement to pregnant women or children.
Otherwise, there is nothing to worry about. Even small doses of melatonin supplements are sufficient to be effective, ranging from as little as 0.2 mg to 20 mg, which makes it completely safe for adults. The only thing people should be careful about is not taking the supplement in situations where it’s dangerous to fall asleep.
Talk to your doctor to see if melatonin supplementation is right for you.