Melatonin, more than just a sleep aid

Natural Medicine Overland Park, KS

Commonly referred to as a natural sleep aid, the use of melatonin has been gaining more popularity around the world. However, melatonin can do much more than help you get better sleep at night. Research continues to show that melatonin can be beneficial in other aspects of your health as well. With all of its popularity, you may be wondering if melatonin can live up to its hype. This article will discuss how useful melatonin really is for sleep as well as its various other health claims.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone in the body, and its main role is to help regulate sleep. Interestingly, production and release of melatonin in the body are connected to the time of day. During the night when it is dark production increases, and when it is light production decreases. Production of melatonin also decreases with age, which can cause a number of sleep issues such as insomnia.

Your body generally produces all of the melatonin that you need, but you can easily find melatonin supplements over-the-counter. Research has found that melatonin promotes sleep, and when taken in appropriate amounts is generally safe for short-term use. Some evidence suggests that taking a melatonin supplement may interfere with your body’s natural melatonin production. Note that melatonin may also cause adverse symptoms including nausea, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. It is important that you treat melatonin supplements like a sleeping pill and take it under your doctor’s supervision.

How can melatonin help your sleep?

Melatonin is typically used as a sleep aid. According to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/), evidence has shown that melatonin can be helpful for the following sleep conditions:

  • Insomnia: May improve your total sleep time, sleep quality, and how long it takes you to fall asleep.
  • Jet lag: May improve symptoms of jet lag such as alertness.
  • Delayed sleep phase: This disorder is characterized by a delayed sleep pattern of two or more hours. Melatonin may reduce the length of time needed to fall asleep.
  • Shift work disorder: May improve daytime sleep quality and duration for individuals who have evening work schedules.
  • Sleep-wake cycle disturbances: May help sleep disturbances in children who have disabilities.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind: May improve sleep disorders in both adults and children.

While melatonin is most commonly used as a sleep aid, research has been showing that melatonin has other health benefits as well.

Other uses of melatonin

Melatonin has been gaining a lot of traction for its potential capabilities of aiding in seasonal depression. Some research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15744212) has shown that seasonal depression is associated with changes in your circadian rhythm from seasonal light changes. Since melatonin plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, low doses of melatonin are often used to decrease symptoms of seasonal depression.

Additional research has been investigating the potential role that melatonin has on blocking gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Melatonin has been shown to block the secretion of stomach acids as well as decrease production of nitric oxide. Several studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20082715) have shown the potential use of melatonin is an effective treatment for heartburn.

Research continues to show how melatonin aids in sleep as well as various other health conditions. Talk to your healthcare professional on how a melatonin supplement may benefit you.

If you have difficulty sleeping or you are suffering from a sleep disorder, consider a consult with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park, KS, who can assist you. As a specialist in functional medicine, the best treatment plan will be created to help reduce your sleep disturbances and improve your overall health.

Contact LifeWorks Integrative Health, for their insights about the benefits of melatonin, as well as alternative medicine. 

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