Every minute, night or day, your body’s factory never stops. When you put your head on the pillow at night, you start producing a hormone that helps the body sleep. That hormone is melatonin.
You can only produce melatonin in good quantities when it is dark. But now, the supplement industry has bottled the nighttime hormone for people who have difficulty sleeping to use. When you need to return to a regular sleeping pattern, this supplement could help get you there. And for those who have chronic difficulty sleeping (insomniacs), small disruptions to their sleeping patterns can throw them for a loop. Melatonin is perhaps the best thing to take if your insomnia has been caused a disruption (had to work the late shift, was needed at the hospital, was traveling, etc.) to your sleep pattern.
Melatonin is often a recommended supplement for preventing jetlag when you land in a country many time zones away. And it’s been proven in many studies, too.
In one such study, 320 people on different flights that stretched across six to eight time zones were recruited. Patients took several different types of melatonin supplements, once each day before bed. The “immediate release” tablets worked better than the “controlled-release” formulations, with the latter designed to go off at a certain point after you swallow it.
Jet-lagged patients who took the natural hormone for four days after their flight showed major improvements in fatigue, the quality and length of sleep, the time it took to fall asleep, and daytime tiredness.
If you need relief from insomnia and prescription drugs have not worked, melatonin might be the remedy you are looking for. It’s been tested for people working shifts, as well as for insomnia in the elderly. If you suffer from regular bouts of insomnia, take melatonin five hours before bedtime to improve sleep patterns.
One other benefit of melatonin supplementation is that it seems to reduce anxiety. If you have to undergo surgery in the near future, for example, melatonin could help reduce symptoms of worry and stress. Researchers have found that melatonin could work in the same way as sedatives, but without the side effects. As always, check with your doctor before trying any new supplement.