Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the body by the pineal gland found in the brain. There is also the synthetic melatonin made in laboratories, to be taken as pills, liquid, and in chewable forms. It is most commonly used to improve sleep in different conditions or to adjust properly when there’s a change in a person’s sleep-wake cycle.
Under normal conditions, the body stimulates the production of more melatonin when it gets dark at night, which prompts the person to prepare for sleep. With light and sunset, there is a decrease in the production of melatonin, and this signals the body to be awake.
When people have trouble sleeping, it’s sometimes due to low levels of melatonin. Such people are advised by practitioners to take synthetic melatonin as supplements to help them sleep, 1mg melatonin goes a long way to help people sort their sleeping issues.
If you happen to have any of these issues, melatonin could be effective in helping you manage or solve them.
- When you have delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). People who have trouble falling asleep can take melatonin to help them sleep. This treatment works for young adults and children alike. However, you should note that it does not permanently correct the disorder, as the problem seems to return within a year of the stoppage of treatment.
- When you have insomnia. Melatonin does not only shorten the time it takes for one to fall asleep, but it also improves the quality of sleep in people with insomnia, by increasing the time they spend sleeping. According to research, melatonin helps people with sleeping troubles associated with conditions like epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, autism, and developmental disabilities.
- When you’re jet-lagged. Melatonin helps with certain symptoms of jet lag, like movement coordination. Though slightly, it has also been found to improve other symptoms such as daytime tiredness and sleepiness. But melatonin is not known to shorten the time it takes for someone who is jet-lagged to fall asleep.
- When you have anxiety. Taking melatonin reduces anxiety. It achieves this by improving sleep quality, easing negative feelings associated with being anxious, and regulating circadian rhythm. When used under the tongue, it is considered as one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety before surgery.
Possible side effects of taking melatonin:
Most of the harmful effects associated with taking melatonin occur when it is taken regularly for a very long time. When taken by adults for a short term, melatonin is likely safe. Some people have been able to use melatonin safely for up to 2 years.
It can lead to some side effects, like daytime sleepiness, short-term depression, headache, stomach cramps, and dizziness. You should not drive or use heavy machinery for up to four hours after a dose of melatonin.
For women who are trying to get pregnant, melatonin may be deemed unsafe. This is because it could have similar effects as birth controls, thereby making it difficult for such women to conceive.
1mg melatonin per day is safe for children. However, there are suspicions that melatonin interferes with adolescence and its development. While this is yet to be confirmed, it is safe for melatonin to be taken only by children with a medical need.
Melatonin can be taken in different ways. The method of administration depends on the symptoms being treated, as well as the individual. These methods include:
- Oral: This is the easiest and most common method of taking melatonin. The capsules and tablets are taken orally to get quick results.
- Sublingual: This is when melatonin is placed under the tongue. It is left to dissolve and get absorbed by the body. This method is popular with patients hoping to reduce anxiety before surgery.
- Topical: Melatonin can serve as topical skincare, to be applied to a localized part of the body. A typical example is when a melatonin-containing gel is used to treat sunburn.
- Intravenous: In some cases, such as when various therapies are used to treat tumors, melatonin can be administered intravenously. However, this method is often not used, especially in homes.
About two hours after administering 1mg melatonin, the effects begin to kick in. Therefore, you should take melatonin supplements two hours before bedtime. And when melatonin is being used to avoid getting jet-lagged, then it is advised that you start taking the supplements a few days before making the trip.
Melatonin supplements can be gotten in drugstores and pharmacies. There is a need to watch your dosage and follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, as an overdose may cause damage to your health.
When the body does not produce adequate levels of melatonin, it poses a problem. The individual finds it difficult to sleep. Taking melatonin supplements can help such people sleep better. Some foods contain melatonin, like tomatoes, olives, walnuts, barley, cherries, banana, among others.