Melatonin for trouble sleeping
February 1, 2019
The so-called "sleep hormone" or "darkness hormone" is naturally produced by our body. When it is missing, we feel the unpleasant effects of sleep disorders and, as a result, we have problems with normal functioning after a sleepless night. How can you fight the shortage of this hormone, thereby improving sleep quality?
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland. It is produced not only in humans but also in animals. "Supervises" the mammalian biological clock, which in turn regulates daily rhythms, including periods of sleep and wakefulness.
How does it work?
If the hormone reaches the right level of concentration in the body, we start to feel sleepy. Importantly, melatonin production is associated with light - it is most produced when it is dark (the highest concentration takes place between midnight and 3 o'clock), while sunlight inhibits the production of melatonin, so that we can be active during the day. It is this hormone that sends a signal to the brain at daylight hours and regulates our daily cycle.
The effects of sleep hormone deficiency
Lack of melatonin in the body may result in various ailments or diseases. It starts with sleep disorders, including insomnia, which have further consequences: discomfort, fatigue during the day, irritability, memory and concentration problems. In extreme cases, a deficiency in the amount of this hormone can cause brain disorders such as epilepsy, hallucinations and depression.
Alternative to sleeping pills
With age, the concentration of melatonin in the body decreases, making it harder to sleep and more difficult to fall asleep. Research suggests that about 30% of people over 40 have sleep problems.
One solution is to reach for sleeping pills, but often their side effects deteriorate the quality of functioning during the day. Patients who receive them may feel such "ailments" as fatigue, sluggishness, weaker reflexes, concentration or irritation after waking up. The reason for this is the effect of drugs, which in fact cause faster sleep and longer sleep, but at the same time deprive us of the REM sleep phase, during which the nervous system regenerates. In addition, typical sleeping pills often cause addiction, withdrawal symptoms or dose tolerance in the long term.
Fortunately for people suffering from insomnia, there is another solution - to accept melatonin available in pharmacies as a substitute for the natural substance produced by our body.
The use of melatonin helps to fall asleep, reduces the number of awakenings during sleep and has a positive impact on mood. Its great advantage over traditional sleeping pills is that there are no side effects after awakening, so the patient does not have to deal with slower reflexes or irritability during the day. In addition to improving the quality of sleep, the substance has an antioxidant effect and therefore helps to fight free radicals.
Melatonin is a drug that is generally well tolerated by the body. However, there are patient groups that should not use it, such as: pregnant and breast-feeding women, people suffering from hematopoietic cancer. Treatment with steroids and serious mental illness are also contraindications.
The supplement is recommended especially for those who, due to their lifestyle and work patterns, have shifted daily cycles: they work shifts, travel a lot by plane to distant countries (change of time zones).
How to take melatonin? The dose of the substance depends on the patient, but usually ranges from 1 to 3 milligrams per day, although even one tenth of a milligram can bring results. Of course, you should take the medicine before you "plan" to sleep.
Taking melatonin can be a way to improve the quality of sleep, which affects our entire daily cycle. As it is a relatively young drug on the pharmaceutical market, it is necessary to consult a physician or a pharmacist before starting supplementation, to exclude contraindications and to determine the doses.