Melatonin Understanding the Sleep Hormone

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Melatonin For Sleep and Jetlag

Over the years, several studies have established the link between melatonin and sleep. It only follows that melatonin does have an essential role to play in the treatment of insomnia and sleep disturbances.

As mentioned earlier, the secretion of melatonin is driven by external cues namely light and darkness. The increase in secretion in the evening, therefore results in greater propensity to sleep.

But the production of the hormone is not always smooth. It may be hampered in certain cases, such as jetlag (crossing time zones), working night shifts or any such circumstance that demands exposure to less light at day and more at night (maladaptation syndrome). Additionally, certain individuals are prone to lower melatonin secretion, especially the aged and persons with schizophrenia. The resulting insomnia and disturbances of the natural sleep cycle adversely affect the quality of life.

Melatonin supplements have been successfully used in the treatment of sleep disorders. The medication, taken orally, has proved its efficacy in correcting disrupted circadian rhythms. Also, a desirable increase in sleep quality, reduction in sleep-onset latency, heightened freshness on awakening, and better daytime functioning have also been observed. It has also become possible to manage sleep disturbances and induce sleep in children with ADHD and autism, thanks to the effects of melatonin.

Studies have also opined that melatonin supplements may prove effective in the avoidance of severe jetlag, as sleep cycles can be synchronized with the time zone one is traveling to.

People who are totally blind have difficulty falling and /or staying. They also have problems in concentration and oftentimes experience fatigue and irritability. Melatonin has helped reset the free-running circadian rhythms of blind people or those with poor vision, to the normal 24-hour cycle. Here, hormone supplements are to be taken approximately an hour prior to bedtime. Researchers are, however, undecided on the right dosage to be prescribed.

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