With a high level of stress, crazy workload, and sedentary lifestyle, problems with sleep are becoming more common than ever among busy achievers. If you don’t have issues with sleep, then consider yourself lucky! In turn, about 30% of people struggle with insomnia, while 32% of achievers sleep less than six hours. When facing this problem, people resort to medications such as sleeping pills or supplements.
One of the most widespread supplements to treat sleep disorders is melatonin. Your body produces this hormone to regulate your sleep-wake cycles and help you fall asleep. However, if you surround yourself with bright lights before going to sleep or involve yourself in strenuous activities before bed, you block melatonin production. The question is: can the melatonin supplement actually help you sleep better (or fall asleep)?
How does a sleep regimen affect your body?
The most important recovery processes and the restart of the central nervous system occur from 22:00 to 24:00. If you want to wake up rested and refreshed, this is the best time to go to bed, while doing it after midnight won't be the best decision.
The most effective method that guarantees sound and healthy sleep is adherence to the regimen. Considering your personal needs and knowing how many sleep cycles your body needs to get a good rest, determine the best time to wake up and the best time to fall asleep. Follow this schedule by going to bed and leaving it at the same time every day and under any conditions.
Still, what if you can’t fall asleep even though you got to bed at the right time? That means your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin. Now let’s find out everything about this hormone.
How does melatonin work?
The amount of melatonin in the blood naturally increases at nightfall, signaling the brain to sleep. This substance accelerates the relaxation process by slowing down the work of the nervous system. Also, this hormone lowers the level of dopamine used by the human body to provide a sense of vitality. So melatonin prepares your body for sleep, helps your brain and muscles relax, and ensures you fall asleep at the right time.
Your body begins to produce a sleep hormone between 8 PM and 10 PM (earlier in larks, later in owls). The concentration of melatonin peaks from midnight to 2 AM, and by 6 to 7 AM, it drops to a minimum.
Hormone production highly depends on illumination. Thus, in summer, when daylight hours are longer, your body produces melatonin in smaller quantities than in winter. The rhythm of hormone secretion suffers in the blind, with a rapid change of time zones, when the time changes within 12 hours, as well as with a shift work schedule.
You may lack melatonin, if:
- You’re are in the forties or older. After 45-50 years, the production of natural melatonin decreases in your body.
- You have severe anxiety, depression, or mental disorder. By feeling anxious and nervous, you turn on the production of cortisol - stress hormone. This hormone makes you more alert and energized, disrupting melatonin production.
- You spend your pre-bedtime surrounded by bright lights. Your pineal gland is only able to produce melatonin in the dark. If the lights are on at night, hormone production slows down. The blue light coming from devices screens also blocks melatonin production.
- You’re smoking, drinking alcohol, or coffee less than two hours before bed.
- You’re taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamin B12, and some other drugs.
In that case, you may get an additional melatonin dose with supplements. Let’s discover the benefits of melatonin supplements for your body.
Perks of taking melatonin supplements:
Melatonin normalizes your sleep-wake cycle and helps you fall asleep faster
You should know how unpleasant it can be to toss and turn in bed and get bogged down in anxious thoughts. Sleepless nights, sleep disturbance, and insomnia appear because your body may lack melatonin. In that case, taking melatonin supplements will help you normalize your sleep-wake cycles. Plus, they allow you to fall asleep faster without spending sleepless hours at night. Yale University study has shown that consuming melatonin also prolongs your sleep.
When it comes to sleep disorders, melatonin supplements are among the most effective treatments. Antidepressants and sleep pills can cause addiction and impair your cognitive skills. At the same time, melatonin is well-tolerated and has no long-term adverse effects. Melatonin helps align your sleep to your circadian rhythms and have a high-quality rest during the night. So if you have one of the sleep disorders, you can choose melatonin to get back to the superior sleep routine.
Melatonin supports your stomach, eye, and heart health
This hormone has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It absorbs free radicals - unstable molecules that damage organs and tissues, decreasing immunity and causing heart diseases. For example, this hormone protects your stomach from oxidative damage, relieves stomach pain and heartburn.
In addition, melatonin can reduce inflammatory processes during eye diseases. It slows down age-related macular degeneration and supports your retina health. So if you want to have clear vision even after 70, make sure your melatonin level is sufficient.
Since your heart rate decreases during sleep, melatonin can also affect your heart health. With enough melatonin, you manage to sleep calmly, and your heart can rest. Plus, studies claim that a high level of melatonin links to lower chances of hypertension, ischemia, heart failure, and infarction.
Melatonin relieves stress and elevates your mood
Have you ever been gloomy and easily irritable after a sleepless night? That’s how the lack of rest affects our mood, suppressing the production of dopamine - “energy hormone.” And if you’re sleep-deprived for a long time, it may lead to chronic stress, which lowers your immunity and can cause severe diseases like cancer. In turn, by taking melatonin supplements, you can reduce anxiety, depression symptoms and calm yourself down before sleep.
At the same time, melatonin supplements are effective in treating seasonal depression. It affects up to 20% of people during the winter season because light and sleep cycles change. Taking melatonin will help you normalize your sleep cycles and, thus, fight back seasonal depression.
Melatonin acts like an antioxidant
If you want to take a good care of your health, melatonin may be helpful since it’s also a potent antioxidant. So by taking melatonin supplements, you may boost your body’s antioxidant protection and reduce tissue damage. At the same time, melatonin blocks pro-inflammatory cytokines, reducing inflammation in your cells. This hormone supplements will be an effective solution if you want to minimize oxidative damage to your cells.
Melatonin slows down the aging process and strengthens your immunity
If you’re looking for a natural treatment that can help you feel and look younger for a longer time, then melatonin is what you need! According to the research, this hormone stimulates the production of cells that deteriorate with age. That means your skin will recover effectively and look younger even when you pass 60.
In addition, this hormone maintains your immunity by affecting the protein signal pathway and supporting intracellular metabolism. It enhances the production of cells responsible for antibody formation, so it’s an excellent immunity-supporting supplement.
Melatonin increases your memory capacity and boosts cognitive skills
Surprisingly, this hormone is also helpful to level up your brain performance and have a solid memory. Tokyo Medical and Dental University study says that taking melatonin help, you build long-term and precise memories. Meanwhile, University of Hawaii research has proven that people who consume melatonin reach higher results in verbal learning tests. It also showed that melatonin supplements could protect your brain from age-related cognitive issues.
It’s clear that melatonin does much more than just maintaining your healthy sleep-wake cycle. It’s great as a multipurpose supplement to strengthen your immunity, relieve stress, and stay on top of your cognitive performance. Now it’s time to discover everything about consuming melatonin supplements.
How to take melatonin supplements?
You can find melatonin supplements in the form of capsules, gummies, drops, and tablets. There are two types of this hormone in supplements: natural (made with animal pineal gland) and synthetic. The second option is safer since viruses can infect natural melatonin. Though melatonin supplements aren’t toxic and don’t cause severe side effects, it’s still pretty important to stick to recommended dosages. You should take different dosages depending on the issue you want to treat.
If you find it hard to fall asleep, suffer from jetlag, or insomnia: from 0,5 to 3 mg.
If you’re struggling with anxiety: from 3 to 5 mg.
If you want to relieve heartburn symptoms and support your stomach health: 5 mg.
Common symptoms of overdosing by melatonin include:
- Sleepiness and dizziness;
Scientists recommend taking melatonin supplements a few hours before sleep because it takes around half an hour to dissolve. Taking melatonin earlier could cause daytime sleepiness and disrupt your sleep-wake cycles.
Supplements beneficial when taken together with melatonin
You can take melatonin together with certain supplements to boost its effect and experience better sleep. The most popular combinations are:
Melatonin and tryptophan (5 HTP): this combination is possible if you take tryptophan during the daytime. Keep in mind that tryptophan is already involved in the synthesis of natural melatonin, so you need to be especially careful in choosing the dosage.
Melatonin and magnesium: when taken together, this combo helps to ease falling asleep, relieve accumulated tension, and alleviate "irritating" factors that can interfere with sleep.
Melatonin and glycine: a combination that helps enhance the effect of each supplement.
Tips for taking melatonin supplements most effectively:
- Make sure you’re getting it from a verified source. Be especially careful when purchasing natural melatonin supplements since animal viruses could infect them.
- Adjust the dosage to your needs. There’s no need to start taking melatonin every day if you’ve experienced an insomniac once. You can take it three times a week or consume it occasionally when you have trouble falling asleep.
- Choose the right timing. Melatonin needs a few hours to start working, so try not to take it right before bed. If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night and would like to sleep by 11 p.m., take melatonin around 6:00 p.m. Otherwise, if you go to bed early and wake up in the morning when it is still dark, melatonin can be taken in the morning or early afternoon.
- Stick to the basic rules for supporting your melatonin production. If you spend much time behind screens before going to sleep, melatonin supplements won’t be of much help. So if you want to get the most out of them, avoid bright light before bed and increase your bright light exposure in the morning.
- Try combining melatonin with other beneficial supplements. Keep in mind that melatonin is helpful only when your body can’t produce enough of it. You may try combining melatonin with other supplements for a better effect and to ensure a healthy sleep routine. Combine it with magnesium or glycone, or try taking it with herbal supplements like valerian root or ashwagandha to wind down and prepare for sleep.
- Consider smart melatonin intake for treating jet lag. If you know that soon you’ll travel long distances by plane and are afraid of jet lag, try smart melatonin intake. For eastbound travel: take a dose of melatonin before the flight in the early evening, followed by once at night for four nights after arrival. For westbound travel: take melatonin for four nights once in the new time zone.
- Check the interactions between melatonin and the drugs you’re taking. This hormone can decrease the effect of some medicines or strengthen it. Make sure you take them at different times.
- Don’t perform focus-requiring tasks after consuming melatonin. It’s always better to take melatonin only before sleep. Otherwise, it can make you sleepy and dizzy, which may be dangerous on the road or when performing focus-requiring tasks.
- Don’t mix melatonin with alcohol or coffee. That would be just spoilage because coffee and alcohol disrupt your natural melatonin production and make you more energized and active.
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- How Melatonin Regulates The Body's Sleep-Wake Cycle (2019)
- Meta-Analysis: Melatonin For The Treatment Of Primary Sleep Disorders (2013)
- The Potential Therapeutic Effect Of Melatonin In Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (2010)
- Comparison Of Effects Of Oral Melatonin With Oral Alprazolam Used As A Premedicant In Adult Patients Undergoing Various Surgical Procedures Under General Anesthesia: A Prospective Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study (2018)
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- Melatonin (2020)
- Sleep Aids And Stimulants (Continued) (2020)