- Alzheimer’s Disease and Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cancer (as an Addition to Conventional Therapy)
- Cluster Headaches
- Epilepsy in Children
- Functional Dyspepsia (Chronic Indigestion of No Known Cause)
- Fighting Aging in General
- Immune Support
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Preventing Heart Disease
- Quitting Smoking
- Reducing Anxiety Before Surgery
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Tardive Dyskinesia
- Thinning Hair in Women
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep. During daylight, the pineal gland in the brain produces an important neurotransmitter called serotonin. (A neurotransmitter is a chemical that relays messages between nerve cells.) But at night, the pineal gland stops producing serotonin and instead makes melatonin. This melatonin release helps trigger sleep.
The production of melatonin varies according to the amount of light you're exposed to; for example, your body produces more melatonin in a completely dark room than in a dimly lit one.
Melatonin supplements appear to be helpful for people whose natural sleep cycle has been disturbed, such as travelers suffering from jet lag. The hormone may also be helpful in various other sleep disorders.
Melatonin is not a nutrient. However, travelers and workers on rotating or late shifts can experience sleep disturbances that seem to be caused by changing melatonin levels.
You can boost your melatonin production naturally by getting thicker blinds for the bedroom windows or wearing a night mask. You can also take melatonin tablets.
Melatonin is typically taken half an hour before bedtime for the first 4 days after traveling.
For ordinary insomnia, melatonin is usually taken about 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime. To fall asleep on Sunday night after staying up late Friday and Saturday, one study suggests using melatonin 5.5 hours before the desired bedtime.
The optimum dose of melatonin is not clear, but it is probably in the 1 to 5 mg range.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Melatonin?
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with serious liver or kidney disease have not been established.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -