If you’re looking for a cure for insomnia, an understanding of melatonin could help. Did you know that this hormone has a part in controlling your cycles of sleeping and waking? It is produced by a small gland called the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. But melatonin can also be purchased as a supplement and is found in minute amounts in some fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains.
Reset the Body Clock and More
Everyone has an internal clock, also referred to as the body’s circadian rhythm, which melatonin helps to control and which regulates the natural sleep cycle and waking hours. This body clock actually contributes to the level of melatonin produced in your body.
Typically, the levels of melatonin naturally produced in your body begin to rise toward the end of the day, in mid-evening to late night. These hormone levels remain high almost all night, but then they drop in the hours approaching dawn.
Light has a significant effect on the production of melatonin, causing it to drop. People who receive a diagnosis of having circadian rhythm sleep disorders are sometimes exposed to bright lights during the nighttime while not getting enough exposure to light in the daytime. When the normal melatonin cycles are disrupted, the body clock doesn’t function properly.
Some of the causes of circadian rhythm sleep disorders are shift work, jet lag, and poor vision.
Exogenous melatonin taken before bedtime, combined with exposure to light during the daytime, is a type of treatment used to benefit people with jet lag, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and other sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase syndrome.
Besides helping with sleep cycles, melatonin is linked to other functions of the body. With regards to the female reproductive hormones, for instance, it contributes to the timing of women’s menstruation cycles and the onset of menopause.
There are strong antioxidant effects in melatonin, and there is evidence which suggests that this hormone helps to fortify the immune system.
Typically taken anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes prior to bedtime, supplements cause the level of melatonin in plasma to rise before the natural melatonin is produced by the brain. This supplementation has the effect of a mild hypnotic.
For health and safety reasons, it’s best to take a melatonin supplement only as a patient under a doctor’s care, particularly if you are ill. There are various side effects which can occur as a result of supplementation, though they are typically mild. The most common side effects include headaches, daytime sleepiness, and dizziness. Less common side effects include:
- Mild anxiety
- Changes in blood pressure
- Brief bouts of depression
- Abdominal discomfort
An important consideration when taking melatonin supplements is that they can negatively interact with other medications, including:
- Diabetes medications
- Birth control pills
It’s essential not to take melatonin supplements before engaging in activities which require you to be alert, such as driving. Also, please note that supplements should only be taken if they’re in the man-made form. The type that is produced from cows is not a safe alternative because it has been shown to spread disease.
Treatment of Primary Insomnia
More and more studies are proving that there is often a strong connection between insomnia and melatonin levels. When people can’t sleep, the solution is often related to this natural hormone.
Rather than taking medications to cure insomnia, many people find that it’s better and more effective to use a natural approach to dealing with the symptoms of insomnia. These natural methods often involve melatonin.
In normal people who sleep soundly through the night, the following is the way melatonin operates in the body:
- Levels are quite low at the start of each day.
- Throughout the day, levels remain steadily low.
- As evening approaches, levels gradually increase.
- At the normal bedtime, the levels are approaching their highest point.
- The levels peak sometime during the middle of the night.
- The levels gradually decrease until the person wakes up.
People who suffer from insomnia typically don’t have the above-described cycle of melatonin levels. Sometimes the hormone doesn’t begin rising when it should. For some, the levels don’t decrease as they should. In older people, insomnia becomes a much more common issue; this is due in part to the fact that melatonin levels decline naturally with age.
Melatonin supplements can help people get a sound, natural night of sleep by correcting the levels of the hormone in the body.
Given the right dosage is found, curing insomnia with melatonin can be as easy as counting sheep.