by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
When walking down the aisle of the grocery store, have you ever noticed the flavored teas, gummies, mouth sprays, and other products containing melatonin? Well, not only in grocery stores, but melatonin supplements have been taking up more and more space on the shelves of the drugstore and big box locations. But why?
As per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), around 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. And the products containing melatonin promise a great night’s sleep, as melatonin is believed to be an effective and safe treatment for sleep disturbances.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what melatonin is, its benefits, and when you need to opt for melatonin supplements.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition or disease. You should always consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen to ensure you are healthy enough to do so and to ensure the supplements will not interact with any medications you may currently be taking.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain. It is majorly responsible for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm and managing the natural sleep cycle. And this is why it is often used as a sleep aid and helps to combat issues like insomnia.
Melatonin supplements have been gaining a lot of popularity around the globe, and for a good reason — they work. Though it is commonly known as a natural sleep aid, it offers various other health benefits as well, like boosting the immune system, controlling blood pressure, and more. Let’s explore more health benefits offered by melatonin and the use of melatonin supplements.
The Health Benefits of Melatonin and Melatonin Supplements
Below are some of the many health benefits of melatonin and the utilization of melatonin supplements.
1. Promoted better sleep
Melatonin is known as a sleep hormone for a reason. There are various studies that show how melatonin supports better sleep. A study on people who have insomnia shows that consuming melatonin supplements two hours before going to bed can help you fall asleep faster and enhances overall sleep quality.
However, melatonin and the use of melatonin supplements can cause a few side effects as compared to other medications and prescriptions.
2. Reduces symptoms of seasonal depression
Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects up to 10% of the population worldwide. It typically occurs at the same time each year, with symptoms appearing from late fall to early winter. It is linked with the changes in your circadian rhythm, which are often caused by seasonal light changes.
Since melatonin plays a vital role in regulating the circadian rhythm, it can be used to reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression. A study shows that altering the circadian rhythm contributes to seasonal depression, but consuming melatonin supplements can help reduce such symptoms.
3. Increase the level of human growth hormone (HGH)
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is vital for growth and cellular regeneration. High levels of HGH are linked to an increase in both strength and muscle mass.
A few studies found that melatonin supplements help increase the HGH level in men. A small study on eight men shows that both low and high doses of melatonin supplements increase the HGH level in men. However, more study is needed to understand the effect of HGH on the population.
4. Promotes eye health
Melatonin is known to have a high level of antioxidants which helps to keep the eyes healthy by preventing cell damage. As per the research, melatonin supplements can be beneficial in treating conditions like glaucoma and AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration).
A study on 100 people suffering from AMD shows that consuming 3 mg of melatonin for a period of 6-24 months helps to protect the retina, delays age-related damage to the eyes, and keeps the eyes healthy.
Melatonin supplements can be consumed from 0.5-10 mg per day. However, not all melatonin supplements are the same, so it is better to consult a healthcare professional before you include them in your routine.
Next, if you are taking melatonin supplements to improve your sleep quality, make sure to take them at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. And, if you are consuming them to correct the circadian rhythm, take it 2-3 hours before going to bed.
Potential Side Effects of Melatonin Supplements
A few side effects of melatonin supplements include nausea, headaches, dizziness, and other conditions.
Apart from that, melatonin supplements may also interact with various medications, including blood thinners, blood pressure, and antidepressants. Also, it is better to avoid melatonin supplements altogether if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
So, if you are under any of these medications, consult your doctor before taking melatonin supplements in order to avoid any adverse effects.
Hectic schedules and demanding jobs have sort of glorified having proper sleep. And here, natural sleep aids act as a savior! Melatonin supplements can improve your sleep cycle. But if you are already on medications, consult your healthcare professional first.