What is Melatonin?
Melatonin− the sleepy hormone− is a hormone that is produced naturally from the pineal gland inside of our brains. This hormone helps balance circadian rhythms that support a good night’s sleep. Melatonin contains antioxidants, disease-fighting, and stress-relieving properties, and promotes anti-aging. This hormone is normally produced within the first three hours of sleep, organically increasing the amount of time the body is at rest. As natural light decreases throughout the day, melatonin is secreted. This signals to your body that it is time to prepare for sleep. As light increases in the morning, melatonin production decreases, signaling your body to wake.
Synthetic Melatonin Uses
As you age, the amount of melatonin production decreases, making it harder for people over the age of 50 to fall asleep and wake up at normal times. Some people have naturally lower levels of melatonin, making it difficult for them to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Synthetic melatonin supplementation may help increase the amounts of this hormone within the body and result in an easier rest. This type of melatonin usually comes in pill or capsule form but is also available in the form of a liquid to place under the tongue or inside the cheek.
Many people tend to use melatonin when they have trouble falling asleep at a conventional bedtime (delayed sleep phase syndrome), or if their restlessness lasts for multiple days. Some may also use it for sleep disturbances, varying work schedules (night shift), or while taking certain medications such as blood pressure medicine that may induce insomnia. It has also been proven to help with reducing anxiety levels, migraines, jet lag, and jaw and/or joint pain by helping the muscles relax.
Naturally Improving Sleep Patterns
Hesitant about the use of synthetic melatonin? There are ways to boost the body’s overall production of melatonin naturally (without supplements) to have a better sleep.
- Increase exposure to natural light during the day and reduce exposure before bed.
- Sleep in a cool, dark room to increase melatonin levels at night.
- Decrease your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) before bed or while sleeping. This means no blue lights or glowing lights that come from electronics.
- Eliminate the use of NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, doses of b-12 supplements, caffeine, and alcohol before bed.
How to Use Synthetic Melatonin
Unlike many other sleep medications, melatonin does not cause withdrawal or symptoms of dependence. Since this hormone is naturally produced within the body, your body will not build up a tolerance to it, making it safer to use nightly without needing to increase the dosage over time. Always start by taking a smaller dose−especially those who may be sensitive to medications, and if needed, gradually increase your dose to one that is effective for you. The recommended dosage for children and teens is 0.5mg to 3mg. For adults, it is recommended to take between 0.5mg to 5mg. Some adults may even take up to 10mg depending on their usage reasons but use with caution. Adults over the age of 50 should take 0.5mg or consult with a doctor to see if it is appropriate to take melatonin supplements. Taking a dose that is too high may result in drowsiness, daytime sleepiness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and even vivid dreams. It is important to start out with a smaller dose to prevent side effects and to promote a healthy sleep cycle that is best for your body.
As there are many benefits from taking melatonin, treat the use of melatonin as you would any sleeping pill and use it under your doctor’s supervision. Consult with a trusted healthcare provider to discuss appropriate dosages and to make sure that melatonin is a safe sleep aid to incorporate into your lifestyle.
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