Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It's secreted at night to help regulate sleep-wake cycles and is most often used for people with insomnia, jet lag, or shift work disorder. But what are the benefits of melatonin? What are its side effects? How do you know if it's safe to take? This article will answer all your questions about these popular wellness products.
Can Melatonin Support Better Sleep?
Yes! Melatonin has been shown to improve sleep in people with insomnia. It helps you fall asleep faster, reduces the time it takes you to get into a deep sleep and increases your total amount of sleep each night.
In a study published in Current Neuropharmacology, researchers found that melatonin decreased wakefulness during nighttime hours, increased REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and improved feelings of "refreshed" when waking up in the morning. Another study showed similar results - participants were able to decrease their time awake at night by an average of 84 minutes after taking 0.331mg/kg or placebo 30 minutes before bedtime. They also had less trouble falling asleep and reported better quality sleeping with fewer awakenings throughout the night.
Can Melatonin Support Weight Loss?
Melatonin can help you sleep better, but there's no evidence to suggest that it will make you lose weight. In fact, many people gain weight because of uncontrolled nighttime eating habits following insomnia-related food cravings. If your main problem is getting up for work in the morning and feeling groggy during the day due to poor or insufficient sleep at night (sleep deprivation), then melatonin may be a natural remedy for this rather than another reason for hunger control.
Some research has indicated that taking supplements alongside meals might improve diet quality and increase metabolism. But more studies are needed before any conclusions can be made about its effects on metabolic rate and how long these positive changes would last.
Can Melatonin Improve Mental Performance?
While melatonin might help you sleep better at night, it's unclear if taking a supplement can enhance brain function and improve cognitive performance during the day. Some studies have found that low doses of melatonin supplementation may be beneficial for specific types of memory, including short-term and long-term memory as well as recognition memory (how to do something) and working memory (what is needed right now). But overall, research on this topic remains inconclusive, so more tests need to be done before recommendations can be made.
Furthermore, there are concerns that long-term administration may lead to tolerance or dependence if used regularly because it appears to influence those neurotransmitter systems in the brain related to addiction—the same ones influenced by other addictive drugs.
What Are Melatonin's Benefits for Skin Disorders?
Melatonin has been studied as a potential treatment option in people with tinea versicolor (also known as "sun fungus" or "pityriasis Versicolor"), an infection of the skin caused by yeast-like fungi that results in discolored patches on the trunk, neck, and arms due to overproduction of melanin.
A study published in 2009 found that nightly melatonin supplementation significantly reduced symptoms compared to placebo after 40 days. But more research is needed before doctors can routinely recommend it for this specific condition since not all studies have reported positive effects, including one trial involving children with sleep problems with alopecia areata (a disease that causes hair loss).
What Are Melatonin's Benefits for Irregular Periods?
Melatonin supplements may be useful for women who have irregular menstrual periods due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) because it appears to improve hormone levels and ovulation. In a study published in 2012, 44 participants with PCOS were given either low-dose melatonin or a placebo every day at night over the course of four months. Those treated with melatonin experienced significant improvement in total testosterone concentrations compared to those taking placebos.
Furthermore, more than half of the subjects receiving regular treatment began regularly menstruating within three weeks into supplementation, which suggests that this supplement could help trigger scheduled monthly cycles. However, there are concerns about its long-term safety and side effects, so it's recommended to take melatonin only for a short time or as directed by your doctor.
What Are Melatonin's Side Effects?
Melatonin supplements are considered safe in the short term, but those taking certain medications should exercise caution before using them because they can have both positive and negative interactions, including with antidepressants. In addition, long-term use might be linked to an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy and sleep disorders such as insomnia rather than improved sleep quality after discontinuation.
Furthermore, there is some concern that these products could lead to drug dependence since its active ingredient interacts with several receptors involved in addiction—the same ones affected by other addictive drugs like morphine and nicotine. Regular supplementation has also been linked to rebound insomnia when discontinuation occurs.
What Are Melatonin's Dosage Guidelines?
Given the lack of clear guidelines, it's recommended that you talk with your doctor before taking melatonin supplements for specific health conditions since they may interfere with other medications or have side effects, especially if used regularly over a long period of time.
More research is needed into its potential benefits and risks across different populations (such as people under 18 years old), so no official recommendations can be made at this time. Furthermore, there are concerns about safety because high doses may impair coordination and increase the risk of falling in older adults who experience sleep problems due to Alzheimer's disease or related dementias like dementia with Lewy (DLB).
And finally, be aware that some supplements may contain less-than-advertised amounts of melatonin, so talk with your doctor about the best dosage before starting any treatment.