Does Melatonin work for sleep? That is a very relevant question for people that struggle with sleeping, if you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep and you want to know if Melatonin is good for sleep. This page will tell you all you need to know about Melatonin, what is melatonin, why we need melatonin in our bodies, does melatonin work for insomnia, is melatonin safe to take and are there melatonin side effects.
WHAT IS MELATONIN?
Melatonin a hormone is produced in the pineal gland (pineal body, epiphysis coerebid, or the third eye) melatonin affects the balance of our sleeping / waking pattern and seasonal functions. The pineal gland is found near the middle of the brain midway between the two hemispheres, it is held in a slot in the joining of the two round thalamic bodies. It is red/grey in colour and about as small as a pea.
Everybody produces melatonin but in differing amounts, our melatonin levels rise and fall, they are sparked off and rise when the sun sets, these higher levels in the bloodstream jump start our sleep. People turn to melatonin to help with insomnia, difficulty going to sleep and trouble staying asleep. There are other sleep issues that it could be used for delayed sleep disorder, sleep work disorder or jet lag caused by travelling across different time zones
Low Melatonin levels
The ageing process doesn’t help our melatonin levels, in fact it reduces the levels of it, this may be one reason why elderly people have sleep issues. We know that melatonin is triggered by low light surroundings, a lot of people these days are sitting in front of computers which isn’t natural light and doesn’t help the production of melatonin.
Social Jet Lag
Have you ever heard of social jet lag? Well it something that happens to our bodies if we work different shifts or schedules week after week people that work in hospitals or factories will know what I am talking about. Your body doesn’t know whether it is day or night because of the different shifts consequently it is hard to go to sleep.
Certain medications can affect the production of melatonin medication like beta blockers for heart conditions this can lead to bouts of insomnia. For people with insomnia extra sleep support will be needed. Let’s look at what science tells us about melatonin, sleep disorders and insomnia.
MELATONIN FOR INSOMNIA?
There is no dispute. Melatonin works for sleep.
Melatonin has been shown in many studies to be an effective alternative for sleep deprived people albeit not as effective as sleeping medication, one advantage is that it isn’t as addictive. A circadian related disorder is common amongst people who do shift work, it helps the body to fall asleep when it needs to, it is recommended for people who find it hard to adjust to sleeping during the day after a long nightshift.
A clinical trial demonstrated increased the sleep efficiency in a number of patients, the trial showed positive results for people who suffer from insomnia, a placebo was also used however the people on the melatonin reported improved sleep quality, better alertness in the morning and better quality of life. People in the age 50 plus bracket showed the best results. Children also suffer from sleep disorders particularly those who have autism, in the trial children with autism were given melatonin the results showed significant improvements in the onset of sleep, sleep time, number of wake times during sleep
Is Melatonin safe to take?
Studies conducted over the short term and long term have reported that Melatonin usage:
- is not linked to insomnia
- is not linked to melatonin dependence
- is not linked to withdrawal symptoms
We know from these studies that Melatonin isn’t addictive, we also know that the effects will stay the same even after long term use. It also indicates that if you decide to take it and stop for whatever reason your sleep won’t regress.
It seems to be safe to take in the short term, however we need more long-term studies to make an informed decision on its long-term use. During one study the research showed that Melatonin when given to people with Dementia worsened their mood. The FDA warned a company in 2011 that sold relaxation brownies pointing out that melatonin in the product wasn’t passed as being safe to consume
Side effects Melatonin
Melatonin can be taken in supplement form, it is safe to take in a low dosage 2 mg each day, it is safe to take long term as much as two years, in rare cases melatonin could cause some side effects such as:
- Temporary depressed feeling
- Sleeplessness during the day
- Stomach cramp
NB: If pregnant or breastfeeding it is better to be cautious about taking Melatonin, the studies on people taking Melatonin during pregnancy are limited.
Things to know about MELATONIN
It is produced and sold in tablet or liquid form, the tablet form may be labelled “time release” meaning that the actual melatonin is released slowly into the bloodstream, on the plus side you might stay asleep for longer, on the negative side because of the slow release it may take it’s time to have the desired effect.
Liquid or spray melatonin gets into the bloodstream faster and start to act quicker than a tablet form, for that reason we recommend a product like SleepWell because it’s faster absorption meaning you will fall asleep quicker.
Relaxwell comes in tablet form, this product contains L-tryptophan the precursor to Melatonin, this product has been used to treat sleep disorders, it produces therapeutic effect through Melatonin mechanisms.The reports on patients have shown improvement in stage one sleep even with a low dosage of 250 mg, during a trial 2.5 mg was given to people with obstructive sleep apnoea significant improvement was shown with their symptoms.
There is a vast range of liquid Melatonin product available on the IHerb website, please click here to find out more details.