Melatonin benefits being reported by people who use this antioxidant supplement are varied. It can be used for a number of purposes.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally in the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. Human infants start producing it in the first few months of life, sometimes as early as three months of age. The body produces melatonin until early adulthood (approximately age 20), and after that point melatonin production starts to decrease.
The interesting thing about melatonin is that it is produced at night when you are asleep. In order for the body to produce this hormone, you must be asleep in a dark room. If you are up at night and are in a brightly-lit room, your body immediately stops producing melatonin.
When melatonin levels are too low, a person may be at increased risk for the following conditions:
- Seizure disorders
Melatonin: Benefits of this Supplement
Melatonin is a Natural Sleep Aid
Taking melatonin will help people who suffer from insomnia to be able to fall asleep sooner. It helps to reset the body's clock into thinking that nighttime comes earlier. The dose sometimes is taken between three and six o'clock in the afternoon. This way, a person who has had trouble sleeping should be able to get to sleep by 10 or 11 p.m. instead of being up at night.
Others find it more helpful to take this supplement an hour or so before bedtime. This allows for a good night's sleep without feeling sleepy too soon.
Melatonin will Help Prevent Premature Aging
Melatonin levels that are lower than normal have been linked to premature aging. When you get at least seven hours of sleep a night, you are helping your body to remain youthful. Insomnia and other sleep difficulties speed up the aging process.
Melatonin is a Remedy for Jet Lag
If you are planning on taking a trip over a few time zones, taking 0.5 to 5 mg of melatonin at night will help to reduce the symptoms of jet lag, which include:
- Drowsiness during the day
- Trouble sleeping at night
- Stomach upsets
- Impaired judgment
Other Melatonin Benefits
Melatonin is also used for the following purposes:
- As part of a smoking cessation program
- To help prevent cluster headaches
- As a way to protect against sunburn
- To help individuals who are dependent on benzodiazepine (at type of sedative) who are going through withdrawal
How to Take Melatonin
Melatonin is available at pharmacies without a prescription. It's important to read the label to make sure that the form you buy is a synthetic version; melatonin that comes from animals may contain viruses or other contaminants. You can buy melatonin in the form of a tablet or a capsule. You may be able to find it in a soft strip that dissolves on the tongue. Some forms of melatonin are slow-release varieties, designed to provide a measured dose over time.
Dosage Recommendations for Melatonin
The following dosage levels are recommendations only; be sure to read the instructions on the packaging before taking melatonin.
- If you are taking melatonin for jet lag, take 0.5 to 5 mg before bed for five days. You should start taking it the day you arrive at your destination.
- Between 0.3 mg and 5 mg taken at bedtime will help those suffering from insomnia to get to good night's sleep.
- Take 0.3 mg approximately 3.5 hours after smoking your last cigarette as part of a stop-smoking strategy
- In the case of benzodiazepine withdrawal, use 2 mg of the controlled-release version every night before bed for six weeks.
Melatonin can be used for several months, but most people use it on a short-term basis (usually for a couple of days or weeks). If you are not sure whether melatonin will benefit you, consult with your doctor before taking it to confirm that is the right choice and to find out what the correct dosage is.