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What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland. Darkness triggers melatonin production in the body, while light inhibits it. Melatonin production helps regulate circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock). Melatonin’s most prominent role is to synchronize the sleep-wake cycle, which is the pattern of time spent awake and asleep every 24 hours.
Melatonin synthesis begins with l-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the brain converts into 5-HTP. From there, the brain uses 5-HTP to make serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps stabilize mood and sleep. It’s also the precursor to n-acetylserotonin, which the body uses to synthesize melatonin.
What Does Melatonin Do?
Once secreted by the pineal gland, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates the timing of melatonin’s release. Darkness increases melatonin production, which sends signals to receptors in the brain that it is time to sleep. Melatonin also promotes relaxation by binding to receptors to reduce nerve activity. Melatonin can also reduce dopamine, a hormone that helps individuals stay awake throughout the day. Conversely, daylight suppresses melatonin production and signals that it is time to wake up.
Melatonin for Sleep
Daylight isn’t the only source of light that can stimulate the retina. Watching TV before bed or scrolling on a cellphone can delay melatonin production and disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle. These devices emit blue light, which can trick the brain into thinking it is daytime. Even bedroom lighting can suppress and shorten the overall duration of melatonin production. This disrupts the body’s perception of night duration and dysregulates its circadian rhythm.
Shiftwork can also disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. Working when it’s dark or during typical sleep hours goes against the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to fluorescent lights in the evening disrupts melatonin production as well. Another well-documented melatonin disrupter is jetlag. Jet lag occurs when a person crosses multiple time zones, as their internal clock doesn’t match up to the time of their new location. Melatonin production decreases with age as well, which can cause poor sleep in older adults.
Melatonin supplements can help reset circadian rhythm and regulate the sleep-wake cycle by increasing melatonin levels. Melatonin supplements reduce how long it takes to fall asleep and increase overall sleep duration. Melatonin supplementation can help decrease the body’s core temperature as well, which promotes a faster onset of sleep.
Did You Know?
Melatonin has synergy with physical exercise. Trained athletes may benefit from melatonin supplementation, as its antioxidant benefits reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Melatonin supplements may be able to accelerate cell repair and regeneration following a nerve injury.
Other Potential Melatonin Supplement Benefits
Most adults take melatonin for sleep. However, it provides several other benefits as well. Melatonin has powerful antioxidant properties, which can protect cells from damage caused by free radical molecules. Melatonin synergizes well with vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid to improve its antioxidant benefits. Melatonin also has neuroprotective properties and synergizes with resveratrol to boost this effect.
Potential Side Effects of Melatonin Supplements
Most individuals tolerate melatonin supplements well. Melatonin has few side effects, and they do not last long. The most common melatonin side effects are headache, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness.
Melatonin may interact with certain medications or reduce their effectiveness. Individuals should always speak with their doctor before taking a new supplement. Individuals should not take melatonin supplements while pregnant or nursing.
Purity and Concentration of Melatonin
This melatonin is a pure powder with no fillers, additives, or anti-caking agents. Store in a cool, dry, dark area away from any heat source or direct sunlight.
|Note: Verify these measurements with an accurate digital scale for best results.
Warning: The amounts indicated in this table greatly exceed the recommended serving amount. This table demonstrates the importance of using a digital milligram scale
|Measuring Spoon Size
|Milligrams of Melatonin
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