What is Melatonin?
Melatonin− the sleepy hormone− is a hormone produced naturally in the pineal gland, a small nodule in our brains. This hormone helps balance our circadian rhythm, which supports a proper good night’s sleep. Melatonin contains antioxidants, disease-fighting and stress-relieving properties, and actively promotes anti-aging. This hormone is normally created within the first three hours of sleep, organically increasing the amount of time the body is at rest. As our exposure to natural light decreases throughout the day, melatonin is secreted. This signals to the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. As light increases in the morning, melatonin production decreases, signaling your body to wake.
How to Use Melatonin
As you age, the amount of melatonin that you produce 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 amount of this hormone within the body and result in 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.
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 prescriptions such as blood pressure medicine, which 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.
Steps to Improve Sleep Patterns Naturally
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 support melatonin production 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, you 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− this is especially applicable for 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, specialists recommend to take between 0.5mg to 5mg. Some adults may even take up to 10mg depending on their case, but use with caution. It’s recommended that adults over the age of 50 take 0.5mg, but should not start supplementation without consulting a doctor beforehand. 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 to 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 supplement to incorporate into your lifestyle.
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