Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by a pineal gland in your body. This pea-sized gland is found just above the middle of the brain. This gland stays inactive during the day and gets turned on by the SCN when the sun goes down i.e., during the night (around 9 pm). Melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply in the night and you begin to feel sleepy. The levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours – all through the night – and fall back to low during daytime around 9 am. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.
Normally, your body makes more melatonin at night. Levels usually start to go up in the evening once the sun sets. They drop in the morning when the sun goes up. Production of melatonin depends on the amount of light you get every day including your own body clock. If you’re not able to sleep in the nights, chances are your body is not producing enough of melatonin.
Why you should take melatonin?
If your body isn’t producing sufficient amount of melatonin, you can add melatonin supplements to your diet. Supplements are available in pills, liquids, and chewables in natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms are made from the pineal gland in animals. Here are some situations when people can take melatonin supplements:
- When they’re suffering from insomnia i.e., feeling difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Suffering from delayed sleep phase disorder
- Have rotational shifts that disrupt typical sleep schedules. This condition is called sleep work disorder.
- Prevent or treat jet lag.
Moreover, research is going on to see if melatonin can help with the following health issues:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- High nighttime blood pressure
- Sleep issues with children with autism spectrum disorders
Is Melatonin safe?
Melatonin is safe but some people have reported the following side-effects:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Stomach discomfort
- A “heavy head” feeling
- Short-lived depression
Melatonin Drug Interaction
You should avoid taking melatonin if you’re on any of these medications:
- Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants)
- Diabetes drugs
- Birth control pills
Tell your doctor if you’re thinking about taking any supplement, or you’re taking any medicine, or have a health condition.
The correct dose of Melatonin
According to a study, “the correct dose of melatonin is 0.3 milligrams.” However, in most of the drug stores, melatonin is usually sold in 1mg, 3mg, 5mg, or 10mg doses. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, “The higher dose of melatonin is actually less effective at treating insomnia, and some people may experience a hangover-like feeling the following day.”
Correct Time To Take Melatonin Supplements
According to John Hopkins Medicine, melatonin should be taken approx. two hours before going to bed. Melatonin levels rise naturally around two hours before your normal bedtime when they’re not suppressed by blue light, or confused by a different time zone.
If you’ve been experiencing sleeping issues, it’s worth checking with your doctor. You can experience insomnia due to many reasons such as stress, certain disorders, and your lifestyle etc. Your doctor will be the best to help you figure out what’s going on so you can get the sleep you need.