Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland. It's a pea-sized gland just above the center of your brain. It helps your body know when it 's time to sleep and wake up . Normally, your body produces more melatonin at night. The level starts to rise in the evening when the sun goes down and it drops again in the morning when the sun rises.
The amount of light you get each day - plus your own body clock - determine the amount your body produces. As a person ages, the melatonin naturally produced by the body decreases.
Why melatonin as a supplement?
People use melatonin when they suffer from insomnia , problems falling asleep and staying asleep. It is also taken for other sleep problems. For example, it is taken in case of a delayed sleep phase . People with this disorder have trouble falling asleep before 2 a.m. and getting up in the morning. However, melatonin cannot replace a doctor's care for serious sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or long-term insomnia. People can try melatonin if they have a job that interferes with their normal sleep schedules, a condition called sleep work disorder . It is also used to treat or prevent jet lag. That's the tired, exhausted feeling some people get when they travel across time zones.
Doctors are also currently investigating whether melatonin might help with: Alzheimer's, various cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), high nighttime blood pressure and sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorders.
How well does it work?
Everyone responds differently to medications and supplements, so melatonin will work better depending on each person. Some studies say it can help with jet lag and specific sleep problems such as delayed sleep phase, shift work disorder and also sleep disorders in children. Other research shows that it helps people with insomnia fall asleep a little faster. It can also help you sleep better through the night so that you are fully rested. It is certainly a well-researched and scientifically based fact that melatonin as a supplement can contribute to a good night's sleep.
Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen
Founder of Metis Supplements