What You Want to Know About Melatonin Melatonin is a hormone manufactured by the pineal gland, a small gland located in the brain. Melatonin functions by controlling sleep and wake cycles. Very minimal amounts of it are contained in foods like grains, meats, and fruits and vegetables. You can buy it as well in the form of a supplement. What is the exact action of natural melatonin in the body? In your body is an internal clock that regulates your natural sleeping and waking cycles. Your body clock is partly responsible for how much melatonin will be made by your pineal gland. Usually, melatonin levels would rise around mid- to late evening, remain elevated for much of the night, before finally dropping in the early morning hours of the following morning.
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Light has an impact on how much melatonin is produced by your body. On shorter days as in winter, your body may manufacture melatonin earlier or later in the day than it normally does. This can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression symptoms to surface. As a person ages, natural melatonin levels drop slowly. Some older adults may make none of the hormone at all, or very tiny amounts. Why is melatonin taken as a dietary supplement? There are times when melatonin supplements are used to treat insomnia or jet lag. At the same time, scientists are looking at many other uses for melatonin, such as: > treatment of SAD (seasonal affective disorder); > control of sleep patterns for night workers; > reduction or prevention of issues with post-surgery confusion and sleep; and > chronic cluster headache management. Is it safe to take melatonin dietary supplements? Usually, melatonin supplements are safe for long-term and short-term use when the dose is kept low. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking any to be absolutely safe. Kids and pregnant or nursing women,in particular, should not take melatonin – at least, without consulting a physician first. Are there side effects with melatonin use? Melatonin does cause some side effects, like morning grogginess, lower body temperature and vivid dreams. All of these are minor, however, and go away once treatment is stopped. When taking melatonin, do not drive or operate any machinery. If you’re about to take a health exam, inform your doctor that you are taking melatonin. If you have insomnia, make it known to your doctor too as it could be related to a medical problem. How much melatonin should be taken? Based on the reason for using melatonin, adults may take between 0.2mg to 20.0 mg of the supplement. The right dose will, of course, vary from one person to the next. Speak to your doctor to know the right dosage and determine if melatonin is good for you.