Sleep Disorders, Sleep Remedies & Insomnia Relief


Melatonin & Your Sleep Cycle

Melatonin (5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine) is a hormone that occurs naturally in human body. At night melatonin is secreted by a tiny, pea-sized organ at the center of our brains called the pineal gland to help our bodies regulate our sleep-wake cycles.

Melatonin regulates the body's circadian rhythm, our internal 24-hour time-keeping system which plays an important role in controlling when we fall asleep and when we wake up.

Darkness stimulates the release of melatonin and light suppresses its activity in our nervous system. While our pineal gland is capable of producing melatonin for the entirety of our lives, scientists have observed evidence which suggests melatonin production slows down as we age.

Scientists believe this is why younger people tend to have less difficulty with sleeping than older people.

In addition to occurring naturally in the body, melatonin has also been synthesized in the laboratory and is available as a supplement without a prescription in health food and drug stores in the United States for several years, but Melatonin is not regulated by any government agency.

Because it is contained naturally in some foods, the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement, which do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or controlled in the same way as drugs.

However, since melatonin products have not been approved by the FDA, their safety, purity and effectiveness can't be guaranteed.

Melatonin has been used successfully in the treatment of many sleep related disorders.

It is particularly effective in treating delayed sleep-phase disorders, and has also been very useful in treating and preventing jet lag and jet lagís resulting insomnia.

The proper dosage varies greatly from person to person. Pills are available in a range of doses (commonly from 1mg to 3mg). It is typically suggested to begin with a small dose (around 1mg) and work your way up to larger doses if necessary.

Melatonin should only be taken at nighttime; it is usually most effective when taken about thirty minutes prior to going to sleep.

If you are traveling across multiple time zones and wish to use melatonin to counteract the effects of jet lag, you may want to take a dosage prior to getting on your flight and a higher dosage prior to going to bed.

If you commonly sleep during the night, melatonin should not normally be taken during the day, and vice versa, due to melatoninís role in adjusting the body's internal clock.

When thinking about using melatonin as a sleep aid there are several issues that everyone should be aware of.

First, although it is available over the counter and has been used for several years without instances of severe side effects, the use of melatonin has not yet been confirmed to be safe by a regulatory body authorized to do so. Of particular concern is the lack of information regarding melatoninís interaction with other medications.

Melatonin is for adult use only. Not for use by children, teenagers, or pregnant or lactating women. If you have an auto-immune disease, diabetes, a depressive disorder, epilepsy, leukemia or a lymphoproliferative disorder, or are taking an MAO inhibitor, consult a physician before taking this product.

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