Melatonin is a powerful #hormone with some surprising effects in the body. Melatonin is a common #sleep remedy that can be found in almost any #pharmacy or grocery store.
#Melatonin was first isolated in 1958 from a brain region called the pineal gland, and it was found to play a major role in the body’s #circadian rhythms. It promotes sleep and its levels in your body climb in response to darkness. And its amounts fall during the day. Levels also vary from a low in the summer to highest in the winter.
At large doses (even the 3mg dose pills are at least 5-6X natural levels), melatonin can be mildly sedating, but its real appeal is in helping establish the circadian rhythm better. People with jet lag or shift work can take a small dose a little before bedtime and reestablish a better sleep cycle based on the time you have to be up and about, not necessarily the times your body thinks it needs to sleep based on being uprooted from another time zone.
Most studies (link is external) show a small amount of side effects including sedation, lightheadedness, or nausea. These are minor compared to the dry mouth, urinary retention, fuzzy thinking and drowsiness caused by most other over the counter sleep aids.
Yet, while melatonin can help people re-establish circadian rhythms and combat jet lag, it probably shouldn’t be given to kids as we really don’t know what melatonin does in humans around puberty…
Otherwise, melatonin is a safe and effective short term treatment for #jetlag and shift workers who want to get sleep rhythms back in shape faster. In general a very low dose (0.5-1 mg, for example), is more than sufficient. Other rare cases of people who have no pineal glands or who have permanent conditions such as retinal blindness may be better off on chronic low dose melatonin given the benefits of established regular sleep cycles. For now, avoid use in children until more research about the effect on puberty and hormones is done.
Read more on Psychology Today for more facts and side effects about melatonin.