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What's the Deal With: Melatonin

What's the Deal With: Melatonin

Lack of sleep getting you down? It seems like a fair amount of you don't feel like you get enough sleep. That is a bit worrisome since a good night's sleep is a vital ingredient for good health. So if you're plagued by insomnia, you might want to know about melatonin. It is a hormone that helps to control the sleep wake cycle, and it is derived from the amino acid we most commonly associate with sleep, tryptophan. Since darkness triggers the release of melatonin, natural levels of the hormone are highest just before bedtime. While melatonin has been proven only mildly effective as a sleep aid for insomniacs, it may play a stronger role in overcoming jet lag.

Melatonin comes in a synthetic supplement form, however, it can cause a few side effects, which can include: daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headaches and abdominal discomfort. The optimal dose of melatonin has not been determined, and its long term effects have not been tested either. I did find the sleep aid drink Dreamerz, which contains melatonin, tasty and effective.

Fit's Tip: If you are using melatonin to fight jet lag, you should take it on the first day of travel close to the bedtime of your destination. You must take it every 24 hours for several days for it to help alleviate the symptoms of jet lag.


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
My grandma used this when she retired from her 3rd shift job. She'd worked 3rd shift for most of her life, so when she retired and had to get her schedule back on track, she took melatonin. I don't usually have problems falling asleep and I try to avoid ANYTHING that makes you sleep because I'm afraid I won't be able to wake up the next day. Although, I'd rather take melatonin than say, Rozerem or something that makes you EAT and DRIVE in your sleep with "amnesia for the event". Um, scary, no?
suzanne suzanne 9 years
I'm doing the menopause night sweats thing and toss and turn all night. Meletonin helps me sleep sounder... I may be still getting too hot or cold, but I'm guessing that I can tolerate it better. I definitely sleep more soundly when I take melatonin. :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I have Seasonal affective disorder, or the "winter blues" because i am of scandinavian descent. 20% have it and its thought to be genetic. I have a special light in my office because of it. It kind of looks like this but a bit smaller. cost me 180 bucks. But it has helped my depression, improved my sleep.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Awesome. Thanks for the info, fitsugar! I've been curious about melatonin, but wasn't sure if it was worth the effort. I'll look into that Dreamerz product!
starofsorrow starofsorrow 9 years
Hm. I'm curious to see if this would help on the massive road trip that's coming up. I generally have a LOT of trouble falling asleep in a moving vechile, and was considering seeing a doctor about how I could force myself to sleep on the road trip. I'm going to be driving from central Texas all the way to San Diego, California in a VERY bumpy truck with my father and brother!
AmyLizK AmyLizK 9 years
Ansnickers: That truly depends on what you buy - SleepMD (which worked amazingly well for me) kicks in quickly, really quickly! (And typically it takes a long time for OTC meds to kick in for me) I'm nocturnal for my job and melatonin was a huge help. I never tried it for my reg. insomnia bouts... I would DEF. say try Melatonin before using bottles of TylPM... the latter is just worse for you and you build up a tolerance.
bugn bugn 9 years
I took some tonight.
ansnickers ansnickers 9 years
Melatonin works better when taken in the afternoon. It will not work as well when taken right before bedtime! It takes several hours to get through your body before taking full effect. We just discussed in pharmacy school. Thought this might help you if want to try this to help with sleep.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
This doesn't work for me, but my mom swears by it.
bellanatella bellanatella 9 years
My grade seven teacher told me this :) It's VITAL information, trust me. I got much more sleep with it.
Knight-Who-Says-Ni Knight-Who-Says-Ni 9 years
Melatonin can be a godsend for those of us who have insomnia. Just a tip: when you purchase melatonin supplements, get the synthetic, pharmaceutical grade ones, not the "natural" or animal-based ones - those can contain viral material, since they actually come from the animal's (usually cows') pineal gland in the brain.
SeaFoamGreen215 SeaFoamGreen215 9 years
I take melatonin every night! It really does help me, and it works better than the otc sleep aids such as nytol or tylenol pm. it does give me some psychedelic dreams, though!
LoneWolf LoneWolf 9 years
A couple of years ago I started taking this and it gave me the most vivid, intense dreams ever. I had to stop taking it. It was weird.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I'll have to share this with my boyfriend, he travels a lot for work and it would come in handy!
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