What is Melatonin?

What does Melatonin do?

The sleep hormone melatonin.

The hormone melatonin also plays an important role in sleep. The fact that people get tired when it gets dark is mainly due to the hormone melatonin, which influences the day-night rhythm in the human body.

When it gets dark, melatonin becomes active in the brain and is thus associated with falling asleep. During daylight, the release of melatonin is suppressed, thus preventing the body from falling asleep. This is also the origin of the term “inner clock”. In case of sleep problems, melatonin can help to restore the “inner clock” and ensure order.

Melatonin can also be used to prevent fatigue resulting from jetlag. This also makes it easier for the organism to adapt to time shifts and to find its way back into the regular daily routine (Herxheimer & Petrie, 2002).

In the bedroom, care should be taken to ensure that it is properly dark as the night goes on. Disturbing light sources can cause the body to produce insufficient melatonin.

Furthermore, there are also alternative aids from nature that can be used. Especially the hemp plants phytocannabinoid cannabidiol, can help.

Melatonin is known as a sleep hormone because it regulates the human day-night rhythm. But it also takes over other tasks in the body. Melatonin also has an antioxidant effect, which means that it reduces the effects of harmful free radicals that can otherwise cause cell aging and damage, namely wrinkles and fine lines in the skin. Worse still, oxidative stress is associated with cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Melatonin – over the counter

In recent years, melatonin in tablet form has become quite popular. Because of its supposed anti-aging effect, it is a component of various dietary supplements in the USA and the Netherlands, for example.

However, melatonin is also available as a remedy in some other countries at low prices and without a prescription, mainly to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Because of the attributed effect, more and more people are buying it on holiday or trying to order it on the internet. Some countries don’t allow melatonin over the counter though, such as Germany where you can only get it through an rx. Why is the allocation here more strictly handled? Is melatonin is really the miracle cure, for which many people think it is?

How does melatonin affect sleep?

Melatonin is secreted in the dark by the pineal gland in the brain, with the result that we get tired and the body adjusts to sleep. When it gets light in the morning, the amount secreted decreases – a signal for the body to wake up and get up. To optimize this process or to treat a disturbed melatonin balance, many people rely on tablets.

What does “disturbed melatonin balance” mean?

If the body does not have enough melatonin available at the appropriate times of day and night, we speak of a disturbed melatonin balance. This can have natural causes, such as the brain gland releasing less with increasing age. But there are also factors that can affect the melatonin balance in younger people: irregular daily routines, shift work or travel to other time zones. In addition, the blue light from mobile phone or computer screens is said to inhibit the production of the hormone. For this reason, scientists advise against reading on a smartphone or laptop in bed.

Can a melatonin deficiency be detected by a doctor?

According to sleep expert Dr. Weeß, there is the possibility to determine the melatonin balance by means of saliva or blood tests. However, the results are very inaccurate, because “Melatonin has to be measured at different times of the day because the hormone level is subject to constant fluctuations.

Are melatonin remedies the key to restful sleep?

“No”, insures Dr. Weeß. “The melatonin balance is only a small cog in the overall cycle that controls sleep quality.” For example, taking melatonin is of no use at all to someone who cannot sleep at all because of anxiety.

How do you take melatonin?

Typically with most over the counter remedies, unless otherwise discussed with the treating physician, one tablet is taken daily, about one to two hours before going to bed. There are however other authorities on the matter that say differently.

US manufacturers and suppliers of melatonin often recommend taking it 30 to 60 minutes before the desired bedtime, other sources recommend taking it about 20 minutes before going to bed. The dosage of products offered abroad can also vary considerably, with single doses of up to 5 milligrams per tablet being available if desired. Specific to jet lag, Dr. Wees advises daily intake over the period of the journey.