Melatonin is a common medication or supplement nowadays, particularly for people who wish to treat their sleep disorders. If you have been prescribed melatonin or you are planning to try this medication, read on to learn more about what melatonin is, what it is used for and what side effects are associated with it.
Melatonin is a hormone that affects sleep and the production of other hormones in the body. Melatonin is primarily made from the amino acid tryptophan. The level of melatonin that your body produces is affected by the brightness or darkness of your surroundings. Your eyes have special receptors that are sensitive to light. These receptors also send messages to your suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. The SCN is a set of nerves on your brain which is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm, in turn, regulates bodily functions, including sleeping. When your surroundings become dark, your SCN sends messages to your pineal gland to start producing melatonin to induce relaxation and sleep.
Who Can Use Melatonin Supplements
There are many situations where melatonin can be used as medication. For instance, you can take melatonin to relieve jet lag symptoms. If you are traveling to a faraway destination, which will require you to cross several time zones, then chances are your circadian rhythm will be disrupted. As a result, you might experience fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Taking melatonin can help you fall asleep faster during the night and can boost your energy during the day. To get the best results, take the melatonin during bedtime once you reach your destination.
Melatonin can also be prescribed to you if you are suffering from adult insomnia. If it takes you a long time to fall asleep or if you find yourself only sleeping for short periods of time, melatonin can also be used to improve your sleep quality. Melatonin is also effective in helping you establish a regular sleeping cycle. If you are unable to fall asleep until very late at night and you have difficulty getting up in the morning, melatonin can help you develop a healthier sleeping habit. Some research has also shown that melatonin can be an effective sleeping aid to children who are suffering from neuro-psychiatric disorders, such as epilepsy and autism.
Side Effects of Melatonin
When used for a short period of time and in reasonable doses, melatonin is generally a safe supplement to take. Research about long-term consumption of melatonin is yet to be made. If you are planning to take melatonin as medication, some of the common side effects that you can expect are headaches, dizziness, irritability and a reduced ability to concentrate. Vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps are also side effects that are possible with melatonin.
If you suffer from a blood clotting disorder, then you might want to refrain from melatonin since it can increase the risk of developing blood clots. Since melatonin affects other hormones in your body, you might want to refrain from taking it if you are pregnant, nursing or trying to get pregnant.