Melatonin, One Less Sleepless Night

Are you sick of tossing and turning all night? Did another sleepless make work or school the next day a drag? Did you fall asleep but wake up through the night? If you answered yes to one or all of those questions, this article is for you!

Melatonin is used as a short-term treatment for those who have trouble sleeping -- insomnia -- because of sleep cycle disorders and time changes, such as “jet lag.” Melatonin is a normal substance that can reset your body back to it’s normal cycles, hormone production and sleep patterns.

A 2012 nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, Melatonin intake is growing in popularity, with a reported three million American taking the supplement. Before you rush to your nearest pharmacy, it’s important to understand the exact function of what melatonin does to your body since it’s not yet reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.

Continue reading this article to learn:

  • More about melatonin
  • How melatonin supplements work
  • Melatonin’s recommended dosage
  • What melatonin’s long term effects are

What is Melatonin?

Get familiar with how this dietary supplement works in our bodies!

Bottle of gold colored, gel like health supplements
Melatonin is naturally produced in the body and works as an antioxidant to help people relax and fall asleep quicker and for longer.

Taking a melatonin supplement doesn’t add anything to your body that doesn’t already exist. Our bodies naturally produce melatonin, and while it’s taken to help with sleep, it doesn’t literally make you sleep. Instead, taking melatonin helps put you in a state of stillness that promotes sleep.

Melatonin is found in the brain -- the pineal gland -- but can also be spotted in other areas like the eyes, bone marrow, or gut. As stated earlier, this over-the-counter supplement won’t knock you out literally, but is a powerful antioxidant with benefits beyond helping people relax and fall asleep easier.

It may help:

  • Supporting eye health
  • Treating stomach ulcers and heartburn
  • Easing tinnitus symptoms
  • Increasing hormone growth among men

If you are noticing your poor sleep habits become more common, know that poor sleep can lead to greater consequences if left unattended. For example, poor sleep can lead to the following severe consequences:

  • Deplete your energy
  • Lower your productivity
  • Increase the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes

So let’s next talk about what this bedtime supplement does inside your body so your inner night owl can get to bed earlier and wake up on time.

Melatonin, The body’s internal clock

Learning more about how melatonin works with the body’s circadian rhythm.

Circular diagram going through the different circadian rhythm phases
A healthy circadian rhythm leads to a healthy life and can enhance melatonin’s results. Image courtesy of Liveli.

Melatonin levels in the body tend to increase about two hours before sleeping. It's recommended to stop using devices that illuminate blue or green lights since they can neutralize melatonin’s effects.

Melatonin works in conjunction with your body’s circadian rhythm -- in order to signal you when it’s time to sleep, wake, and eat. By conditioning our bodies to daylight exposure during the morning and afternoon, you can help increase your body’s melatonin production.

Technically, melatonin binds to receptors in the body to help you relax, and this binding in the brain reduces nerve activity. Not only does melatonin help with sleep readiness, but it also helps regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and some levels of hormones. For example, melatonin can reduce levels of dopamine, which is a hormone that helps you stay awake.

Now we know that the body naturally produces melatonin, but why do some bodies have lower levels of it? There are many factors that can lead to low melatonin production, such as:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Too much light exposure (blue/green light)
  • Not getting enough natural light during the day
  • Aging

To normalize and get your internal clock back on track, look to taking a melatonin supplement to deal with these external factors leading to low levels of melatonin.

Melatonin in moderation

What studies show us about taking low doses of melatonin.

Three packets of hard pill health supplements
Melatonin comes in three different forms -- chewable, liquid, or rapid dissolving.

In the United States, melatonin is available over the counter. In places like the European Union and Australia, a prescription is needed. If you are just starting off with melatonin and want to see how your body will respond to it, start by taking a lower dosage.

A common dose is 0.5mg (500 micrograms) or 1mg about 30-45minutes before going to bed. As previously stated, melatonin won’t instantly put you to sleep for the next eight hours. Instead, it will help relax you to have a seamless night’s rest. If you aren’t noticing changes in your sleeping habits, you can try increasing your dosage to 3-5mg.

Less is more with melatonin. By finding the lowest dosage to help you fall asleep, the more likely you are to see results. Results vary spending on body type, but what remains important across the board is making sure you do not take any dosage of melatonin unless you have time for at least six to eight hours of sleep after taking the medication.

Melatonin primarily comes in three different forms: chewable, liquid, or rapid dissolving tablets. Aging and existing medical conditions affect dosage and response to treatment, so talk to your doctor before taking melatonin if you have any concerns.

Melatonin safety and side effects

It’s important to know and learn the side effects that may come with taking melatonin.

Adding a supplement that contains melatonin could be a helpful way to ensure you're getting the sleep you need.

Current research tells us that melatonin is proven to be safe, nontoxic, and not addictive. Some may experience mild side effects such as, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Melatonin also interacts with a variety of medications such as, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, and others.

Skip taking melatonin entirely if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an autoimmune disorder, a seizure disorder, or depression.

Key takeaways:

  • Talk to your health care provider before taking melatonin supplements!
  • Adding a sleep supplement like Dr. Emil Nutrition's EZ Doze and EZ Doze Plus are an easy way to ensure your body gets the rest that it needs.

Trouble sleeping or staying asleep is not exclusive to those with insomnia. Even sound sleepers experience sleep troubles. Melatonin may just be the answer you’ve been looking for when it comes to falling asleep faster and helping manage your disturbed sleep phase. You’ve already made the first and most important step -- understanding exactly how melatonin works!

@dremilnutrition