In an earlier blog article, we’d briefly discussed the use of melatonin in connection with the problems associated with jet lag.
Melatonin is used to treat many types of conditions. The use of melatonin is common, and it is easily found. Melatonin can assist you in several ways. The following information will provide you with a general introduction to the subject of melatonin. OnlineClock.net does, however, highly recommend that you discuss this subject with your doctor before you begin to actually take the substance!
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It assists in the regulation of other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal waking/sleeping clock. This clock sets both the time we fall asleep at night and the time we wake up in the morning.
Melatonin also helps to control the timing and release of certain female reproductive hormones. It can also help to determine menopause. Some researchers believe that levels of melatonin may be associated with aging. For example, young children have the highest levels of nighttime melatonin. Researchers contend that these levels drop significantly as we get older. Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Some evidence suggests that it can also help to strengthen the immune system.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Secretions of melatonin follow a daily rhythm ruled by the body’s internal clock. This internal clock is located in your brain. It is synchronized by exposure to a 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. Melatonin may serve as a biological time clue. This is because the level of melatonin present in your body can be directly related to the time you will fall asleep.
The natural secretion of melatonin usually peaks at night, but it does not control sleep. If it did, people who work at night would not be able to go to sleep during the day when melatonin levels drop. Melatonin levels are a delicate balance that must be maintained in order to regulate the sleep cycle.
What Are the Effects and Uses of Melatonin?
Melatonin causes drowsiness and lowers the body’s temperature slightly.
People who find it difficult to fall asleep may find the use of melatonin to be beneficial. Those who have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep may have a problem called delayed sleep phase syndrome. A small dose of melatonin at least two hours before bedtime may help them to fall asleep earlier. The use of melatonin can gradually move them back into their normal sleep schedule.
Some people can’t resist falling asleep too early in the evening. Later, they wake up fully alert. As a result, they are unable to go back to sleep. This problem is called advanced sleep phase syndrome. People who have this syndrome can benefit from taking small doses of melatonin when they wake up in the middle of the night.
People who are completely blind lack all light perception. They sometimes have trouble staying alert during the day; they also have trouble falling asleep at night. Daily rhythms usually require daylight exposure, and blind people may not have a secretion pattern that is connected to the normal 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. sleep cycle. Blood, urine and saliva tests have been used to track melatonin secretion times. This helps to determine when melatonin is synchronized with sleep. In experimental studies, this information has been used to advise blind people in the use of melatonin at bedtime. It adjusts their sleep cycles so that their body rhythms are kept in line with their daily schedules.
Studies have been done on blind children who had irregular sleep patterns. These studies found major improvements when the children were given melatonin at bedtime.
People living at northern latitudes usually spend most of their time indoors. As a result, they get very little exposure to the sun. They sometimes suffer from disturbed sleep cycles. Elderly people may also be susceptible to this problem. Melatonin can help to provide them with stability; however, concerns about possible interactions with other drugs they may be taking demand the use of caution.
Insomnia is a symptom of several disorders.
These disorders usually include:
- neurological disorders
- medical disorders
- psychiatric disorders
The use of melatonin for insomniacs will require the supervision of a physician because melatonin may not be the proper treatment for insomnia!
Although people use melatonin to adjust the body’s internal clock, it has been a useful medication for other problems. For example, melatonin has been used to help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and it has also been used to treat insomnia caused by the use of high blood pressure medications known as beta blockers.
Melatonin has been used to treat sleep problems in children with developmental disorders. These disorders include autism and cerebral palsy. It is also used to reduce the side effects of smoking cessation. Some people have found the use of melatonin to help with depression, ringing in the ears, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, epilepsy, tardive dyskinesia, epilepsy and menopause. Melatonin has also been used to treat some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
Surgical patients are usually given medication to calm them down before anesthesia is administered. In place of heavier narcotics, melatonin has been successfully used to induce a calming effect on these patients.
What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?
The most common side effects of melatonin are:
- sleepiness during the day
Less common side effects may include:
- abdominal cramps
- mild anxiety
Interactions with Other Medications
Additionally, melatonin can interact with various medications.
These medications include:
- immune system suppressants
- birth control pills
- blood-thinning medications
- diabetes medication
If you are thinking about taking melatonin supplements, definitely check the manufacturers instructions for the correct dosage, and consult your physician regarding any possible drug interactions that might occur!
Is Melatonin Safe to Use?
Current studies suggest that it is safe to use melatonin if you are over 18 years of age and healthy.
Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should not use melatonin.
Additionally, do not use melatonin if you are taking other medications without getting the approval of your physician.
Where Can I Find Melatonin?
Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement. It can be found at your local pharmacy or health food store. Various grocery stores also carry melatonin. Melatonin is usually sold as a dietary supplement and not as a drug. Because it is not classified as a drug, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations do not apply to melatonin. Manufacturers are not required to list all of the ingredients on melatonin package labels. Tests of melatonin samples showed variation between the amount of melatonin listed on the label and the actual dose of melatonin.
Taking melatonin to adjust the circadian rhythm is probably the most common reason that most people use melatonin. It is important to remember that this over-the-counter supplement is for short-term use.
If you want to continue to use melatonin beyond a span of two months, you should consult a physician.
Since the side effects are mild, there is a good chance that you may find the use of melatonin to be helpful in the effort to adjust your circadian rhythm.
There is a small population of people who do not see a difference in their sleep cycles after using melatonin; however, most studies found melatonin to be useful in the effort to adjust sleep cycles.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about melatonin here on The Alarm Clock Blog!
Because melatonin is used to help with the rhythm of sleeping and waking, it might be wise to use it in conjunction with one of our alarms to ensure that you wake up at just the right time to start your day.
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