Waking up during daytime when the sun is up and sleeping at night when there no light is a natural pattern for us. Scientists have found out that inside the brain, there is a part called the supra-chiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which signals other part of the brain that control hormones, temperature of the body and other functions that are involved in making us feel awake or sleepy. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a pea sized gland that is located just the top of the middle brain.The SCN will delay the production of melatonin until such time that darkness arrives. The release of melatonin is associated with sleep onset. Blood levels of melatonin vary, depending on the ambient light. During daytime, melatonin levels are low and During nighttime.
Supplementation of melatonin improves sleep by normalizing melatonin levels inside the body.
An experimental setup done by scientists have shown that melatonin used as a “sleeping pill” is better than a placebo (sugar pill) . Some research shows that melatonin is able to shorten the time it takes for a person to fall asleep. It also reduces the frequency of awakenings. Thus, melatonin is very helpful in insomniacs who have difficulty falling asleep. Melatonin is also helpful in jet lag and in shift workers who need to adjust their sleep schedules. When taking melatonin supplements be aware of the side effects of melatonin supplements.
Webb SM, Puig-Domingo M. Role of melatonin in health and disease. Clin Endocrinol . 1995;42:221-234.
Cowley G. Melatonin. Newsweek . 1995;Aug 7:46. laustrat, B., Brun, J., David, M., Sassolas, G., & Chazot,
Melatonin and Jet Lag: Confirmatory Result Using a Simplified Protocol. Biological Psychiatry, 32, 705-711.
Jan, J. (1994). The Treatment of Sleep Disorders With Melatonin. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 36, 97-107.
Lino, A., Silvy, S., Condorelli, L., & Rusconi, A. (1993). Melatonin and Jet Lag: Treatment Schedule. Biological Psychiatry, 34, 587.
Zhdanova, I. (1995). Sleep – inducing effects of low doses of melatonin ingested in the evening. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 57, 552-558.
Arendt J. Melatonin. Clin Endocrinol . 1988;29:205-229.
Borbely AA. Commentary on the articles by Arendt, Weaver, Mahle, et al, and Guardiola-Lemaitre. J Biol Rhythms . 1997;12:707-708.
Pharmacology and physiology of melatonin in the reduction of oxidative stress in vivo. Biol Signals Recept 2000 May-Aug; 9(3-4):160-71.
Differential growth inhibitory effect of melatonin on two endometrial cancer cell lines. J Pineal Res 2000 28(4):227-33.