The Amazing Benefits of Taking Melatonin
Quality sleep is extremely critical for optimal performance, overall health and brain function. Difficulties performing at work and concentrating are just a few of the issue related to not getting adequate sleep. Melatonin supplements are very popular today for those who suffer from chronic sleep issues. Melatonin is effective for those: (1) having difficulty falling asleep; (2) waking in the night; and, with jet lag. The good news is that melatonin does more than just aid in better sleep.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies. It is secreted by the pineal gland deep inside the brain. It assists in regulating our sleep patterns. Melatonin production is primarily affected by light. Light inhibits the secretion of the hormone. When it is dark, your body produces increased levels of melatonin.
Normal levels of melatonin are altered by stress, aging, medication, and light exposure at night. Research suggests that melatonin levels decrease as we age. Melatonin is effective because it penetrates the blood-brain barrier. It is diffused into cells, and easily enters the central nervous system. It attaches to neurons with ease. Fortunately, melatonin supplements can be taken to restore our natural sleeping patterns and rhythms.
Benefits Beyond Helping Us Sleep
Research indicates that melatonin does much more than help us sleep better and deeper. Studies have shown that melatonin may have a myriad of other highly beneficial effects such as improving outcomes in cancer patients, preventing migraines and acting as an anti-inflammatory to name a few.
Several promising studies have shown that people who suffer from migraines may be able to reduce the frequency, intensity, and severity of headaches by taking melatonin. Scientist think that melatonin’s anti-inflammatory effect and free-radical capabilities produce headache relief.
Women with metastatic breast cancer who had previously failed to respond to tamoxifen were given melatonin supplements (20 mg every evening). These women showed an improved response to the chemotherapy drug. More than one quarter of the study subjects began responding to the chemotherapy treatment. Another benefit that was noted was anxiety relief. Studies suggest that melatonin may help fight hormone-responsive breast cancers as well.
Because melatonin is an antioxidant, it helps protect the brain against free radicals. This helps decrease the effects of aging and disease. Melatonin has even been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Melatonin is put in the same class as cognitive enhancers because it can encourage deeper REM sleep. Melatonin has been shown to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, improve mild cognitive impairment, learning and memory issues, and optimize the brain cognitive function during the natural aging process. Depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are both improved when taking melatonin.
Dosage and Interactions
Melatonin is taken in doses ranging from .3 – 5.0 mg. The dosage depends on what your intended use is. Suffering from sleep rhythm issues would probably take a dose of .5 mg a day or more. Studies examining the impact on cancer patients have utilized doses of 3-50mg/day. For jet lag, generally a dose of 5 mg a day would be suitable. It would be optimal to take the supplement at night, about thirty minutes before it is time to go to bed.
Melatonin has a sedating effect which can be magnified by the use of benzodiazepines, antihistamines or antidepressants. Also, use of melatonin with valerian, alcohol, or hydroxtryptophan may increase the sedation properties of the hormone.
Melatonin is recommended for short-term use, taken for no more than two months. However, this will also depend on the particular facts of your situation.