Team AckoJun 21, 2023
Melatonin (MLT), a naturally occurring hormone, is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythm. Besides enhancing sleep, MLT regulates immunological function, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. As per some studies, it acts as an antioxidant that enhances eye health, relieves acid reflux, and even lessens the symptoms of seasonal sadness.
When the body lacks enough MLT to meet its requirement, supplements may help to compensate for the same. This article will elucidate the role of Melatonin in your body, its benefits, and whether it causes any negative side effects.
Melatonin is an essential hormone produced by the pineal gland, located in the middle of your brain. Darkness stimulates the gland to generate and release MLT, whereas light inhibits its function. Darkness causes the body to produce more Melatonin, which signals your body to sleep. Hence, it's commonly used as a sleep aid to treat conditions like insomnia. People who have lower levels of MLT have trouble sleeping patterns.
Endogenous MLT release (produced by human bodies) increases daily in response to darkness, reaching its peak between 11 PM and 3 AM to around 200 picograms (pg) per ml. The levels are usually ten times greater at night than during day time. The levels start to fall drastically before daylight and are hardly evident throughout the day. This rise and fall of endogenous levels signify your sleep and wake pattern, known as circadian rhythm.
Melatonin is a fat-soluble hormone generated in the pineal gland of your brain. It is derived from the amino acid tryptophan and is released into the cerebrospinal fluid and blood after crossing the blood-brain barrier. It communicates with the receptor agonist in the brain and other parts of your body to help regulate the sleep and wake cycles.
MLT supplements are designed to imitate the effects of the natural sleep hormone. A dose taken 30 minutes before bedtime usually causes drowsiness within an hour. However, taking supplements before bedtime may not be the best approach for all sleeping problems. Consult your doctor before starting the medication because it may not work for everyone.
The following are some important functions of Melatonin.
A study with fifty people having insomnia showed that taking MLT supplements two hours before bedtime helped them to fall asleep quicker and improved their quality of sleep.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often known as seasonal depression, is a widespread illness that affects up to 10 percent of the global population. This form of depression is caused by seasonal changes and happens every year around the same time, with symptoms often showing in late fall to early winter.
According to some studies, it might be related to variations in your circadian rhythm induced by seasonal light fluctuations. However, as per studies, taking Melatonin supplements daily lowered the symptoms.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a hormone that is essential for growth and cell regeneration. Higher levels of this vital hormone also help gain strength and muscle mass. As shown in several studies, Melatonin supplementation may boost HGH levels in males. Research says that both low (0.5 mg) and high (5 mg) dosages of Melatonin are beneficial for increasing HGH levels.
Melatonin is rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce your risk of vision problems. Research says that Melatonin may be helpful in the treatment of eye disorders such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
As per the study, supplementing with 3 mg of Melatonin for 6–24 months helped protect the retina, prevent age-related degeneration, and retain visual quality. A 2013 study says that Melatonin reduces the severity and incidence of retinopathy: an eye illness that damages the retina and can cause vision loss.
GERD is a disorder caused by the backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus, resulting in symptoms such as heartburn, belching, and nausea. Melatonin has been proven to inhibit stomach acid secretion. It also reduces nitric oxide production, a chemical that relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to enter your oesophagus.
A study performed on 36 individuals reveals that using MLT alone or in combination with omeprazole (a kind of proton pump inhibitor that relieves GERD) helps relieve heartburn and discomfort.
In another trial of 351 patients with GERD, 176 patients were given omeprazole along with a nutritional supplement including MLT, other amino acids, vitamins, and plant substances, whereas 175 patients were given only omeprazole.
After 40 days of the trial, it was observed that people who were taking Melatonin-containing supplements reported a 100 percent reduction in symptoms, while people who were taking only omeprazole reported a 65.7 percent reduction in symptoms.
Researchers believe that Melatonin can relieve some types of headaches, which may include migraines and cluster headaches.
Some clinical trials of breast, brain, kidney, colon, and lung cancer show that taking MLT alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy may help cancer treatment. Melatonin may help in the prevention, treatment, and progression of cancer. It may help treat cancer in a variety of ways.
The dosage of Melatonin may vary, depending on your age and the reason for which you are taking Melatonin. Although the typical adult dose ranges from 1 mg to 5 mg, it can range from 0.5 mg to 10 mg depending on the application. Following is a table that depicts the dosage according to the age and condition prevailing. Please speak to your doctor before taking any medication.
Melatonin Dosage according to the prevailing condition
Children and teenagers
0.5 mg to 3 mg – or up to 6mg for those who have severe insomnia
Adults for jet lag
0.5 mg to 5 mg - to be taken a few hours before bedtime and for many days after arriving at the destination
Adults for shift work
2 mg to 3 mg - to be taken after a shift and before going to bed, but never before driving home
Adults of age 55 and older
2 mg to be taken every day once for up to 13 weeks, 1-2 hours before going to bed
Since not all Melatonin medications are the same, it's advisable to stick to the suggested amount on the package to avoid negative side effects. You may also start with a smaller dose and gradually raise it until you find what dose works best for you.
If you're using MLT to enhance your quality of sleep, then take the medication 30 minutes before bedtime for the best results. Meanwhile, if you're taking it to reset your circadian rhythm and develop a more consistent sleep pattern, take it around 2-3 hours before bed.
Melatonin may help relieve a variety of health issues, including the following.
Sleeping issues in children having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism
Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
Pre and post-surgery anxiety
Protecting the heart by lowering blood pressure in insomniacs
Possessing anti-cancer properties and boosting the effectiveness of cancer treatments
Lowering stroke injury
Reducing the obesity-induced damage on the body by lowering inflammation
Slowing down the cognitive deterioration in dementia patients
Most research suggests that MLT is safe to use and non-habit-forming for both long term and short term use in adults. However, some people may encounter the following side effects.
Dizziness and sleepiness
Weakness or confusion
Anxiety and irritability
Loss of appetite
Change in blood pressure
Joint and back pain
Increased risk of seizures
Melatonin may potentially interact with drugs such as blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. If you are having any of the above, consult with your doctor before starting Melatonin medicines to inhibit negative effects.
What are the side effects of Melatonin?
Although taking Melatonin Medicine is safe and non-addictive, some people may encounter side effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, sleepiness, weakness or confusion, anxiety and irritability, loss of appetite, change in blood pressure, joint and back pain, and increased risk of seizures.
What triggers the release of Melatonin?
The production and release of Melatonin hormones are controlled by the pineal gland. Darkness stimulates the gland to generate and release MLT into the bloodstream.
Why is Melatonin used?
It helps you fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently during the night. Melatonin is prescribed to people over the age of 55 to treat sleep disorders. It is occasionally used to help youngsters with sleep issues and to prevent headaches in adults.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Melatonin is written as MLT in this article due to certain constraints, it is not a medical acronym.
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