Approximately 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or struggle with poor quality sleep. Many of them are reaching for traditional pharmaceutical sleep aids such as melatonin.
Melatonin is an increasingly popular, natural sleep aid that can help you stay asleep longer at night and improve the quality of your sleep. There are many other effective methods and natural remedies that can help you sleep better such as aromatherapy, purchasing a supportive pillow, or even completely changing the environment where you sleep.
One thing that people are always interested in, is whether and in what way they should take supplements for their sleep, and what are the possible side effects.
What Is Melatonin? Does It Work?
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in our body that promotes sleep. The secretion of this hormone occurs in the middle of our brain principally by the pineal gland.
This hormone, known by many as the “sleep hormone” is released at night. Its function is to regulate your body`s response to light or better said to regulate a sleep-wake cycle by keeping your body clocks synced up with the daytime.
Studies show that melatonin not only improves sleep quality and sleep duration, but it also may increase the time we spend in REM sleep, essential for mood regulation and memory consolidation.
How Light Limits Melatonin Production
The system that regulates melatonin secretion is complex. The production of melatonin can vary between individuals, but the light is the key environmental factor that influences the secretion of this hormone.
Sunlight or even artificial indoor lighting suppresses melatonin secretion. That is why it is harder for us to fall asleep in a bright room than in a dark one. In connection, summer is the time when melatonin secretion drops off, due to the length of the daytime.
For a very long time, it has been a mystery of how melatonin promoted better sleep, but that is about to change as more research comes in. In 2018 a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that melatonin suppresses specific neurons that keep us awake and alert.
Does Age Impact Melatonin Production?
Generally, melatonin production decrease with aging. No wonder the highest melatonin levels are found in children aged 4 or younger. All of this explains the mystery of why we sleep for fewer hours as we get older.
Anyway, this shouldn`t worry you much, as you could still be proactive and have a quality sleep time by taking a small recommended dose of melatonin.
Sleep Problems Melatonin Can Help With
Many research shows that melatonin supplements can help the following sleep issues:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Jet lag
- Sleep problems arising from ADHD
- Menopause- sleep problems followed by hot flashes
If you continually travel and struggle with jet lag, you may benefit from taking 0.5 mg of melatonin about 90 minutes before setting off.
For melatonin supplements to be even more effective it`s advisable to optimize your daily routine for sleep by finding out your chronotype. If you want to find out your chronotype head over to chronoquiz.com
What Is the Recommended Melatonin Dosage?
If you take melatonin to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, the recommended daily doses range from 0.3 to 5mg. Anyway, if you have sleep-wake disruptions you need higher doses of melatonin that range from 2 mg to 12 mg.
Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder, but if you travel a lot you might want to take melatonin the first day you arrive in the city until you leave. The recommended doses range from 0.5 to 8 mg. Always start with the lowest possible effective dose, and consult your doctor for higher doses, or if you take this supplement for the first time.
Magnesium regulates melatonin production, therefore it is recommendable to take this supplement as well.
Can We Take Melatonin On Daily Basis? What Are the Side Effects?
Always keep in mind that melatonin is a hormone, and however beneficial it might be, you should always first consult your doctor before taking melatonin supplements or making any dosage changes. The safe and effective daily dose of melatonin that aids and promotes better quality sleep is 5 mg.
Potential side effects are: