Normalizing Circadian Rhythm, Low Melatonin Production, Difficulty Falling Asleep,
Waking During the Night, Jet Lag, Insomnia
Melatonin is most commonly used to regulate circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycles. It can benefit those who experience sleep disturbances such as trouble falling asleep, waking during the night, daytime drowsiness, insomnia, or jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone secreted primarily by the pineal gland in the brain. it is a derivative of the amino acids L-Tryptophan, 5-HTP, and Serotonin, and maintains the body's circadian rhythm or internal clock. Light suppresses the body's production of melatonin and darkness stimulates it, therefore, traveling across several time zones, shift work, poor vision, and blindness can all disrupt normal melatonin cycles. Some speculate that exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields from common household appliances can also have a negative impact on melatonin production. Additionally, there are certain individuals who may naturally produce low levels of melatonin. Studies show that melatonin taken orally can benefit both those with disrupted circadian rhythms and those with low melatonin levels, by decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increasing the number of sleeping hours, and boosting daytime alertness.
For those wanting to prevent jet lag when traveling, melatonin supplementation can reduce the number of days required to establish a normal sleep pattern, diminish sleep latency, and reduce daytime fatigue. Melatonin should be started on the first day of travel around the expected bedtime of the destination and continued for several days. For individuals with either chronic or acute sleep disturbances, Melatonin should be taken one-half hour before bedtime and then repeated during the night if needed. Melatonin also exhibits antioxidant properties. It has direct free radical scavenging effects and plays a role in increasing antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, and decreasing prooxidant enzymes. It exhibits neuroprotective effects in various parts of the central nervous system and has been studied for its role in both the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease.