How Important is Melatonin?
Sleep is simply a natural phenomenon in life that is essential for the development and general wellbeing of a human. In fact, without sleeping when appropriate, it is most time difficult to live a normal life during the day. It is a known pattern for every human life to sleep during the night and stay awake during the day. The major factor that aids this sleep regulation is exposure to light or to darkness.
When one is exposed to light, a nerve from the retina in the eye simulates an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. In the middle of this hypothalamus is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This nucleus works in a clock pattern and regulates the action pattern for all the activities in the body. It also signals to the brain how and when to adjust hormones to act accordingly; for instance, in the daytime, SCN switches on hormones that are supposed to work during the daytime and suppress the ones that are expected to work at night.
Several hormones are released in the body at various hours of the day, and the suprachiasmatic nucleus is in charge of regulating the activities of these hormones. At the beginning of the day, hormones that help the body stay awake and active are released into the blood. When it is dark also, hormones that prepare the body for sleep are also produced and released into the bloodstream.
On the exposure of light each day, the suprachiasmatic nucleus starts functioning in a regulated manner in performing actions such as raising the body temperature and releasing hormones needed by the body. When it is dark, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, however, turns on the pineal gland, which in turn starts producing a hormone in charge of regulating how we sleep–Melatonin.
However, the Pineal gland has been known not to start producing Melatonin when switched on by the suprachiasmatic nucleus until the body is in a dimly lit environment.
This melatonin hormone is a small-sized gland found above the center of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake daily cycle. It is naturally produced in the body. Melatonin hormone production and release into the blood are associated with the time of the day. Production of this hormone increases when it is dark and decreases when it is light. With the increase of the melatonin hormone in the blood, the body begins to feel less alert and thereby acquiescing to sleep.
Melatonin’s level in the blood stays raised for about twelve hours, which simply means, melatonin level rise is active all through the night before the light of a new day. From 9 am of every new day, Melatonin’s level in the blood falls and becomes barely detectable.
The melatonin hormone also declines with age; the implication of this is that, as the human body grows older, the ability for the melatonin hormone to be produced in the body grows weaker. The hormone production notwithstanding is enhanced by some food and pills. The body produces enough Melatonin for sleep on its own, but in cases where there is a noticeable decline in the production of this hormone, the melatonin supplement is recommended.
Melatonin supplement is constantly in use in America; according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, about three million Americans are in constant use of Melatonin supplement, and the number continues to grow till date. It is also very important to understand exactly how this supplement works and when to start using it. This article would be looking into the Melatonin supplement–the facts about it, the roles, the effects encountered, its medical usage when it is not safe to use it, when to stop using it, and the dosage encouraged.
Facts About Melatonin Supplement
Research carried out by scientists to check if Melatonin supplement could serve as a ‘sleeping pill’ revealed that Melatonin is not very active when it is taken at an inappropriate time. For instance, when the day is still bright and shining, the Melatonin pill was not so active as when it was taken during dark hours.
Besides Melatonin supplement seeming not so active when taken during the day, it can also, reset one’s biological clock in a disturbing manner when administered at the wrong time of the day.
Melatonin work through many receptive systems such as the brain, cardiovascular system, liver, intestine, and kidneys. It has an anti-inflammatory action with the immune system of the body.
Roles of Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin supplements are used medically for many health conditions such as sleep disorder, radiation exposure, Alzheimer’s disease, and tinnitus.
Studies have shown that the use of melatonin supplement help the body fall asleep a bit faster for people with sleep disorder conditions such as insomnia. For people with delayed sleep phase syndrome, however, melatonin supplement helps them in sleeping very late and waking up the next day very late too.
Melatonin supplement is used in various conditions in adults such as Insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, rapid eye movement, sleep behavior disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder associated with insomnia, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Sleep disorder condition caused by beta-blocker drugs, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, depression, hyperpigmentation, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, mild mental impairment, nonalcoholic liver disease, chronic fatigue syndrome.
It is used in preventing side effects from the treatment of radiation and cancer. It is also used for anxiety encountered before or after surgery, rapid change of the heart rate faced in rapidly moving to a sitting position from lying down. It is used effectively to induce sleep in children with developmental disorders such as autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities.
Studies have shown that constant intake of Melatonin daily for 8 weeks reduces pain by 39.3% and the use of painkillers by 46%. This supplement also lessens pains associated with menstruation, intercourse, and pains encountered while urinating.
Effects of Melatonin Supplement
A review discovered that the Melatonin supplement made sleep faster by about six minutes, it also reduced the number of awakenings visibly in between sleep, but it did not increase the total length of time for sleep. Melatonin was also found to considerably improve sleep for conditions associated with jet lag and shift works.
Some of the known side effects that have been encountered in the use of Melatonin supplements are drowsiness, anomalous dreams, headaches, queasiness, and in other cases, diarrhea.
While there are certain worries about the amount of Melatonin sold daily as a consumer product, there have not been any reported cases of confirmed poisonousness from its overdose.
The United States Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows Melatonin supplement to be sold as a nutritional supplement such as vitamin and minerals because it is found in some food and therefore it is not categorized as a drug. This has made the supplement not to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and hence no listed dosage is known to be the right amount to be taken for a particular sleep problem.
Studies, however, have revealed that taking about 1 to 3 mg of melatonin supplement can increase the level of Melatonin in one’s system to about 1 to 20 times its normal level.
Melatonin can be very effective to a particular sleep problem if the right dosage is given in the right way and at the right time of the day. There is, however, no appropriate dosage for any sleep problem as listed by the FDA. It is therefore advised to consult health care providers for appropriate dosage for various sleep disorder conditions.
Occasions to Avoid the Use of Melatonin Supplement
It is advised not to use melatonin supplements when pregnant, breastfeeding, or while having an autoimmune disorder, depression, and or a seizure disorder. When on hypertensive medications, avoid the use of Melatonin supplements. It may raise the sugar levels in the blood and also increase blood pressure levels.
Finally, the use of the melatonin supplement can be said to be very important in cubing sleep disorder conditions, but there are other ways natural production of Melatonin can be enhanced in the body, thereby minimizing the intake of this pill.
To create the best conditions for the natural production of Melatonin in the body, keep the blue and green light from televisions, computers, tablets, or smartphones far away from the eyes as the lights tend to neutralize the ability for Melatonin to help promote sleep in the body. Regular contact with daylight in the morning and afternoon help in the generation of Melatonin, too; although it may be inactive during these times, it would help promote sleep afterward.
Again, as a health care provider once said, if the use of Melatonin supplement is not helping with the sleep condition after one week of usage, stop using it immediately. If the sleep problem persists after the use of the pill, contact a health care provider for other alternatives.
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