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Melatonin Benefits: Top 3 Effects of this Natural Sleep Aid

In this article, we explore the top Melatonin benefits that people are talking about today. Melatonin is known for its abilities to help promote healthy sleep. In fact, this is by far its best-known benefit, especially when using Melatonin as a supplement.  Other important effects include a powerful ability to improve mood and to support a healthy body and immune system.

The classic Melatonin definition refers to a naturally-produced hormone and neurotransmitter used by your body to initiate the sleep cycle. This is what makes Melatonin such a popular supplement for promoting sleep. It is produced naturally in your body and is known to be very safe, even when consumed on a daily basis. Not only that, but Melatonin also crosses the blood-brain barrier very effectively!

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the correct Melatonin dosage or about a potential Melatonin overdose, we’ll explore these issues a little later in the article. However, if you’d prefer to just get the gist of it, Melatonin overdose is known to be extremely unlikely as a result of the biochemical systems in your body to excrete excess levels of it.

melatonin-benefits-sleep

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin (sometimes misspelled as ‘Melotonin’, and also known by the scientific name (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), is a hormone and neurotransmitter produced by the human brain to assist with regulation of sleep. Melatonin is also found in various plants and food sources, including tomatoes, walnuts, and cherries. [1]

Importantly, studies on fasting people have found that Melatonin concentrations drop by around 20% within 2-7 days.[2] This indicates that, although Melatonin is produced by our bodies, we also require a certain amount of intake through dietary sources. Even more interestingly, it seems that people who eat more fruits and vegetables (higher plant intake) may have improved levels of Melatonin by up to 16% compared to standard diets. [3] The important message is that Melatonin can be thought of as a ‘semi-essential’ nutrient, meaning we need to acquire some of it through our diets, or by taking supplements.

In the human body, Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland through the conversion of serotonin.[4] Melatonin production is known to respond to changes in the dark-light cycle. As your body senses darkness, it starts producing more Melatonin, which acts as a neurotransmitter to other parts of your brain and body to tell them to start getting ready for sleep.

 

What Are the Top Melatonin Benefits?

Below, the top three Melatonin benefits are discussed. Apart from the most important Melatonin benefits, which include improvements in sleep quality, mood, and immune functions, this amazing natural hormone is often used to combat jet lag, help with symptoms of stomach ulcers, support a healthy circulatory system, and potentially to reduce heartburn symptoms.[5]

 

1.     Melatonin for Sleep: Improve Sleep Quality

melatonin helps to maintain the body clockMany people around the world use melatonin as a sleep aid to help improve sleep quality and to reduce the time taken to fall asleep. Importantly, this has long been established as one of Melatonin’s most important physiological functions. Melatonin is interesting in that it functions both as a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It is produced in response to changes in the light-dark cycle and is used to trigger processes in your body to bring about healthy sleep. [6]

Melatonin, when used as a sleep aid, is definitely is one of a kind and is a completely natural and very safe hormone for improving sleep quality. Melatonin benefits have been known for quite some time and this is why it is such a sought-after supplement. This is certainly one of the top natural sleep aids available today!

 

2.     Melatonin for Mood: Improve Feelings of Wellbeing

Importantly, Melatonin supplements can also be used to improve mood and feelings of well-being.[7] This is through two key mechanisms. Firstly, there is a strong relationship between sleep and mood. Studies have found that even a small lack of sleep can result in decreased mood and, conversely, better sleep promotes a good mood. Furthermore, a better mood helps to improve sleep quality while a bad mood often results in decreased sleep. [8]

Secondly, there is recent evidence suggesting that Melatonin may help to improve mood directly.[9] This is thought to be through its interactions with other hormones and neurotransmitters in your body, and may possibly be a natural way of helping to improve sleep (as we’ve already established that a better mood tends to correspond to better sleep).

3.     Melatonin for Health: A Powerful Antioxidant Supplement

Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant supplement, which means that it helps your body to stay healthy.[10] Antioxidants found almost exclusively in plant-based foods and supplements, are able to destroy dangerous reactive compounds in your body called ‘free-radicals’. In a zombie apocalypse scenario, antioxidants could be thought of as the ‘zombie-hunters’ and the free-radicals would be the zombies.

Free-radicals actually have a lot in common with zombies in that they quite literally destroy human cells by causing a chain reaction of oxidation.[11] Interestingly, oxidation of carbon produces heat and carbon dioxide. In layman’s terms, oxidation of carbon is the chemical process that occurs in a fire.

So, technically-speaking, free-radicals are not only like zombies, they’re more like zombies who also throw Molotov cocktails. Now, you can see the importance of antioxidants in keeping these reactive chemical species in check.

 

Melatonin Dosage: What is the Correct Serving Size for Melatonin Supplements?

melatonin from liftmodeTaking a Melatonin supplement is a great way to improve Melatonin levels in your body. Using this powerful sleep hormone as a supplement helps to improve sleep quality and promote a good mood.

Melatonin sleep aid is recommended in a serving size of between 3 – 10 mg daily. Melatonin is best taken around 1-2 hours before sleep. Don’t take Melatonin in the day as it might make you drowsy. [12]

 

Melatonin Side Effects

A lot of people online are searching for Melatonin side effects and even for Melatonin overdose. Luckily, there is no reason to be concerned about this natural sleep aid supplement. As with most compounds that your body produces naturally, there are biological systems in place to prevent an excess amount of Melatonin from accumulating in your bloodstream. The possible Melatonin side effects may include headaches, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, and irritability. [13]

Please speak to your doctor before using Melatonin supplements if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medication. Melatonin should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. 

 

References:

[1] Foods with Natural Melatonin, M Greger, NutritionFacts.org, available from https://nutritionfacts.org/2014/04/03/foods-with-natural-melatonin/ [Accessed December 8, 2017]

[2] Röjdmark S, Wetterberg L. Short-term fasting inhibits the nocturnal melatonin secretion in healthy man. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). (1989)

[3] Nagata C, et al. Association of vegetable intake with urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin level. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. (2005)

[4] Brown GM. Light, melatonin and the sleep-wake cycle. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. 1994;19(5):345-353.

[5] Melatonin, Examine.com, available from https://examine.com/supplements/melatonin/

[6] Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH. Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PLoS One. 2013 May 17;8(5):e63773.

[7] Lieberman HR, Waldhauser F, Garfield G, Lynch HJ, Wurtman RJ. Effects of melatonin on human mood and performance. Brain Res. 1984 Dec 10;323(2):201-7.

[8] Benca RM, et al. Sleep and mood disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 1997 Nov;1(1):45-56.

[9] Srinivasan V, et al. Melatonin in mood disorders. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2006;7(3):138-51.

[10] Reiter RJ, et al. Melatonin as an antioxidant: biochemical mechanisms and pathophysiological implications in humans. Acta Biochim Pol. 2003;50(4):1129-46.

[11] Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2010;4(8):118-126.

[12] Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), MayoClinic.org, available from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/melatonin/dosing/hrb-20059770 [Accessed December 8, 2017]

[13] Melatonin side effects, WebMD.com, available from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-940-melatonin.aspx?activeingredientid=940 [Accessed December 8, 2017]