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Your Sleep Solution: Melatonin

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, approximately one of every three Americans does not get enough sleep. Others may suffer sleep loss or insomnia. However, melatonin, a commonly available supplement, can help with a variety of sleep issues.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a pea-sized gland found just above the middle of your brain. 

 

Melatonin tells your body when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up.

Written by Janice Greene, MS, RDN, LD on March 17, 2021 — Medically reviewed by Camille Greyson, R.D., CDE

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How does melatonin work?

Melatonin's primary function in the body is to control night and day periods, also known as sleep-wake cycles.

 

Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep.

Light reduces melatonin synthesis and alerts the body to brace for waking up. Melatonin levels are low in some people who have difficulty sleeping. It is thought that supplementing with melatonin can help with sleep.

Sleep and melatonin

Melatonin supplementation can be beneficial in the treatment of some illnesses, including insomnia, jet lag, delayed sleep-wake period disorder, certain sleep disturbances in infants, and anxiety before and after surgery.

 

Insomniacs have difficulty falling or remaining asleep, or both. Chronic insomnia occurs when episodes last for a month or more. According to recent research, there is sufficient data on the efficacy and protection of melatonin supplementation for chronic insomnia to suggest its use.

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Melatonin’s Other Benefits

Research suggests that melatonin plays other important roles in the body beyond sleep. 

Cancer

Melatonin at high doses, prescribed by a healthcare provider in conjunction with chemotherapy or other cancer therapies, can minimize tumor size and boost survival rates in some cancer patients.

 

Endometriosis

Melatonin used daily for 8 weeks tends to alleviate discomfort and painkiller use in endometriosis patients. It also relieves discomfort associated with menstruation, intercourse, and going to the toilet.

High Blood Pressure

Taking melatonin in a controlled-release form before bedtime seems to reduce blood pressure in individuals with elevated blood pressure.

 

Migraine

The majority of research suggests that taking melatonin before bedtime will help avoid migraines in both adults and infants. When headaches do occur, they are milder and last longer.

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Best sources for melatonin

Melatonin dietary supplements can be derived from animals or microorganisms, but they are more often synthesized. Make sure that your melatonin supplement has a cGMP certification and has good product reviews. Ingredient transparency is also key, and the dosage should be clearly listed on the packaging of the product.

 

If you’re on other medication, pregnant or lactating women, we urge you to consult your doctors.

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