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Melatonin

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What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced the pineal gland in the brain. It is responsible for controlling your body's sleep and wake cycle.

Melatonin levels play a key role in your body's sleep schedule. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and then drop again in the early morning hours.

Melatonin can be used for multiple conditions including jet lag, insomnia; insomnia associated with ADHD, and can also be used for shift workers looking to regulate their sleep-wake schedule.

Melatonin Effectiveness

Some have found melatonin is effective for children with autism. These children tend to have disrupted sleep wake cycles and melatonin may be helpful in regulating a healthy sleep cycle.

However, melatonin is not recommended for other children experiencing sleep issues. Those diagnosed with autism should only take melatonin under the care and advice of a healthcare professional.

Melatonin is also extremely effective for sleep disorders in blind people who have trouble naturally regulating their sleep cycles.

Melatonin Uses

  • Jet lag
  • Cluster headaches
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Sleep patterns in shift workers
  • Confusion or sleeping problems after surgery
  • Insomnia
  • May help reduce sunburn when applied directly to the skin (in cream form) prior to sun exposure

Melatonin Safety

Melatonin supplements are generally safe when taken in low doses either short-term or long-term.

However, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, melatonin may not be right for you. Talk to your physician before using melatonin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Because melatonin can sometimes make people feel sleepy or dizzy you should not drive or use machinery for 4-5 hours after taking melatonin.

Melatonin might also interfere with certain medications including anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, diabetes medications and birth control pills.

If you are taking any of these medications talk with your doctor before starting melatonin supplements.

Melatonin Side Effects

Side effects of melatonin supplementation can include

  • Sleepiness
  • Lower body temperature
  • Grogginess
  • Drowsiness
  • Short-term feelings of depression
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps

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Quick Facts

  • Melatonin is a hormone that manages your sleep-wake cycle
  • Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours
  • During the winter, with its shorter days, your body may produce melatonin earlier or later in the day
  • Melatonin is especially effective for children with autism or other conditions that have difficulty sleeping
  • Melatonin supplements are generally safe when taken in low doses either short-term or long-term
  • Your body's melatonin levels slowly fall with age
  • Posible side effects, such as sleepiness and vivid dreams, usually go away when you stop taking the supplement