Melatonin and sleep
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a pineal hormone naturally produced in the body. The rhythmic secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland is driven by the circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. The robust nightly peak of melatonin secretion is an output signal of the circadian clock and is supposed to deliver the circadian message to the whole of the organism. Since the circadian system regulates many behavioral and physiological processes, its disruption by external (shift-work, jet-lag) or internal desynchronization (blindness, aging) causes many different health problems. Thus Melatonin secretion plays a critical role in maintaining the sleep-wake cycle and thus managing general health.
Manage sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm: Melatonin secretion plays a critical role in maintaining the sleep-wake cycle and thus managing general health.
Irregular production or shortage of Melatonin production leads to various sleep related issues. Thus supplementation can help counter such effects and may help an individual sleep better. Several studies have been conducted on efficacy and safety of Melatonin supplementation and its role in regulating sleep. Several scientific journal articles cite such studies. One such article which looks at several studies concludes that its influence on rhythms extends to other periodicities.
Other health benefits: Its “beneficial” effects on sleep may lead to a multitude of downstream events of therapeutic value. For example reducing the risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, all of which have been associated with poor and/or insufficient sleep (see text). The association of melatonin with risk of cancer and therapeutic intervention therein, is strongly related to disordered rhythms.
It can counter the debilitating effects of modern lifestyles: insufficient circadian time cues especially natural bright light, and exposure to artificial light at unsuitable times—the 24 h society.
Current evidence suggests that melatonin supplements are safe, nontoxic, and not addictive. Some people may however get side effects like: Dizziness, headache or nausea. It may also interfere with medications like sedatives, blood thinners, diabetic medicines or immunosuppressants. One must always consult a doctor before starting Melatonin supplements.
Do Melatonin supplements really work?
Melatonin is one of the most widely used sleep aid across the globe. It is used by doctors to manage sleep related issues plus also sold widely as a jet lag remedy. It is efficacious even in single dose and it is proven to enhance the quality of sleep. Numerous studies and scientific articles summarize evidence in favour of its use as a sleep aid.