Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief


Is Melatonin a Natural Sleep Aid?

Melatonin is an all natural sleep aide. It's secreted by the pineal gland, a small pea size gland in the center of the brain, as our eyes register the fall of darkness. At night melatonin is produced to help our bodies regulate our sleep and wake cycles. The amount of melatonin produced by our body lessens as we get older. Scientists believe this may be why young people have less of a problem sleeping than older people will. Though we create our own melatonin, this can also be bought in the form of supplements.

It is believed that melatonin supplements make it easier sleep and ease jet lag, without the hazards or side effects of prescription and over the counter sleeping pills. Melatonin may have many other uses and has been reported to make people feel better, strengthen the immune system, and reduce free radicals in the body. Currently, research is being done to also determine melatonin's effect as an anti-oxidant. Tests are still being done now because there is much still to be learned about melatonin and its effects on the human body.

Many parents are now offering melatonin to their children who have been diagnosed with hyperactivity or autism. Some parents claim the effects of the melatonin has calmed and relaxed anxiety ridden children. While this may be true for some children, itís not the answer for everyone. Check with your pediatrician before starting any supplement programs with your child.

According to, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that can easily cross cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier. Unlike other antioxidants, melatonin does not undergo redox cycling which is the ability of a molecule to undergo reduction and oxidation repeatedly. Redox cycling may allow other antioxidants, such as vitamin C, to act as pro-oxidants, counter intuitively promoting free radical formation. Melatonin, once oxidized, cannot be reduced to its former state because it forms several stable end-products upon reacting with free radicals. Therefore, it has been referred to as a terminal (or suicidal) antioxidant.

The only real way to test the effects of supplemental melatonin is to try it. You can buy melatonin at most drug stores, health stores, and just about any store that sells vitamins. Before purchasing any supplements, you will want to look into exactly why you feel the need for this particular supplement. Is your lack of sleep just temporary? Has this been going on for a period of time? It is best to speak to a physician about your problem with sleeping to rule out any serious problems before considering a melatonin supplement as a cure all.

Some will argue the other side of the spectrum: If you are taking, or thinking of taking, melatonin, talk to a physician, preferably one who's not selling melatonin. Having your levels of natural melatonin measured won't tell you anything, since levels vary from person to person and from hour to hour. Chronic use of melatonin supplements may suppress the body's own production of the hormone. Nobody knows what might happen if you have high natural levels and take a supplement on top of that. Melatonin can interact with other hormones, which is why, in part, pregnant women and children should never take it. Such drugs as aspirin, beta blockers, and tranquilizers can affect melatonin levels. Finally, nobody knows what the best dosages are to take. Melatonin pills are not standardized. Thus, you really don't know what you're swallowing.

Like many herbal remedies, melatonin is not regulated by the FDA. The only way to know if it works for you is to try it. For some, it works and for others it does not. Talk to your doctor. The two of you should be able to come up with a plan to see if melatonin is right for you. If it is not, your doctor can prescribe a sleeping medication that will be right with your body chemistry.

Letís face it, not all bodies are created equal, so no one pill will work for everyone. Talking with your doctor and experimenting with different ideas is the best way to get a great nightsí sleep. You may have to try several different things before you get it right, but you and your doctor will find what works best for you.

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