You hear of people taking melatonin for sleep, but does it actually work? Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland and has gained popularity as a natural sleep aid with no side effects. In some cases it works very well for people and for other folks not so much. Levels of melatonin are low during the day because light inhibits its production. When taking Melatonin, its important to remember to take it at night and avoid light exposure. Start with a very low dose (1 mg) before bed. Sublingual melatonin is preferred if you can find it because its more readily absorbed by the body. If 1mg does not affect sleep continue increasing the dose each night until you see changes. Dosages can range anywhere between 5 mg and less and in some cases up to 10mg. If your sleep patterns do not improve, you may already have enough melatonin, in which case there are other options to help with sleep. Acupuncture is very effective at regulating sleep cycles without using any supplements. In tougher cases of insomnia, it may be necessary to supplement with something such as a chinese herbal formulas which can simultaneously address anxiety as well.
In my clinical experience, I have found that many Fibromyalgia patients have a difficult time sleeping in which case I use melatonin in addition to other remedies. During normal sleep our body uses this time to repair tissue damaged from oxidative damage and general wear and tear. Chronic long term insomnia, in my opinion, does not allow the body to fully repair itself which over time can lead to problems such as fatigue and body pains. So, it’s important to get a good night’s rest.
Other Beneficial Properties
Melatonin has been shown to aid in immune function and acts as an anticarcinogen. Its an important antioxidant and helps reduce free radicals that breaks down tissues. Melatonin should only be used when there is a sleep problem and not just taken as an antioxidant or preventatively.