Melatonin supplements first became widely available during the 1990s.
And since that time, the topic of melatonin is one of the most requested questions that people with sleep concerns ask.
So let me pull back the covers and answer some of the questions people have when searching for melatonin information.
Please note: In this article, I'm talking about 100% melatonin, not melatonin combined with herbal sleep aids or other natural sleep aids.
Chemically, you'll notice on a bottle of melatonin supplements that it says N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, a pea-sized gland that sits just below the center of your brain. Many people incorrectly search on the Internet for melatonin herb or melatonin vitamin, not knowing that melatonin is a hormone rather than a nutrient.
Though melatonin appears to have a wide range of uses, its major function is to regulate the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
The pineal gland secretes melatonin between 8 and 10 p.m. and its release into the bloodstream gradually helps bring on sleepiness. Levels of melatonin at night can be 10 times the level they are in daytime, when melatonin levels are barely even measurable.
In teens, melatonin is released much later in the evening than it is in adults, which is one reason many teens often have major sleep problems.
It's important to note that darkness is necessary for melatonin production, and in fact, the darker you can make your bedroom, the more melatonin that will be produced in your body.
That's why turning on a bright light to go to the bathroom at night can make getting back to sleep difficult...the light suppresses melatonin metabolism. I now have a tiny flashlight (has 2 AA batteries) next to my bed and flick it on when I need to get up in the middle of the night.
I can tell you it has made a difference in my ability to quickly
get back to sleep. Try it. Or at least try to get by with just a night
Melatonin supplements in pill form are usually a man-made synthetic melatonin, which is chemically identical to melatonin produced in your body. However, natural melatonin is made from the brain tissue of cows. Remember mad cow disease a few years back? That's the risk of taking natural melatonin.
The theory behind this is that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that fights cell-damaging free radicals. However, I haven't seen any studies that show melatonin can extend human life or slow down aging.
There is a tremendous amount of research currently being done on melatonin supplements.
Unfortunately, melatonin safety for long-term use has not been established. It is, after all, a hormone. And just like early studies reported benefits of estrogen use in women, which turned out to be a complicated mess, there is no way of knowing how long-term use of melatonin supplements will effect a human being.
For now, melatonin supplements may be effective for short-term use of two months or less. There are a few studies showing some people used it safely for up to nine months.
If you decide to use a melatonin sleep aid, follow the directions on the bottle! Even so, the underlying issue that is causing your sleep disturbance is ultimately what needs to be tackled.
One other thing. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not approve of the use of melatonin supplements unless administered under the direction of a doctor. In Europe, melatonin supplements are only available by prescription.
Melatonin safety has not been established for pregnant or nursing women and they should avoid its use (unless advised to use it by their doctor).
People with kidney or liver disease should also avoid using melatonin.
This is an important question. I will be posting a detailed article in a few days about the pros and cons of melatonin for children.
The gist of it is, most sleep experts recommend caution when it comes to giving 100% melatonin supplements for kids.
In the meantime, if you don't want to give melatonin to your children, here is an excellent alternative.
One of the best natural sleep remedies I've seen, that does not contain melatonin, was formulated for adults, and also children ages 12 to 18.
But let me get something off my chest here first about natural sleep aids. The best sleep aid for your child...or for you...is the one that works.
Here's what I mean by that.
Any supplement company that guarantees their sleep supplement will work for your child...or for you...is, frankly, lying.
The reason is because each human being reacts in a different manner to sleep supplements. Some natural sleep aids work for one person and not for another. So a company saying their supplements for sleep are guaranteed to work for everyone is insane and dishonest.
That's why I always look for supplement companies that have a strong money-back guarantee. I trust companies that guarantee to give me my money back if their products do not work for me.
With that said...
This natural sleep aid is packed with 49 specific ingredients to help people with their insomnia, anxiety, or stress.
It's mind-boggling what this company has put in their sleep
aid...all based on good science too. The best part is, they have an
outstanding money-back guarantee, honesty, and integrity too. Can't ask
for much more than that.
Click here to read about their outstanding sleep supplement,
and explore their website (link opens in a new window.) You'll be glad you did.