Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally secreted hormone which plays a vital role in regulating the body’s sleep / wake cycle.

Benefits:

  • Sleep aid – helps with many sleep disorders such as jet lag, rotating work or night shifts, or insomnia [1]
  • Important for learning and memory [3]
  • Effective in treating depression brought on by a certain season (seasonal affective disorder) [6]
  • Helps people lose weight by raising the basal metabolic rate [4][5]
  • Holds many antioxidant properties – reduces incidence of death in cancer patients [7], protects cells from radiation, [8][9] boosts the immune system [10][11]
  • Increases the vividness of dreams. [13]

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What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted naturally by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin levels rise in your body during the day and peak at night causing sleepiness. As you age, melatonin levels slowly drop and peak much earlier at night. This is why older individuals usually go to sleep much earlier than teenagers and young adults.

Melatonin can be purchased as a supplement in most countries. It can be administered orally as capsules, tablets or liquid and as transdermal patches.

Melatonin Dosage Information

It is always best to take less rather than more when it comes to Melatonin. Each tablet may contain three to ten times the amount of melatonin your body naturally produces for more rapid sleep onset. One study concluded that 0.3mg was just as effective as 3mg. [8] Another study suggested that larger doses of melatonin can even be counterproductive. When too much melatonin is ingested it can spell over to other areas which are not as well equipped to handle the hormone.  Very little efficiency was found at 20mg to 60mg levels. [14][15].

How Does Melatonin Work?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain. Production of melatonin is inhibited by sunlight and expedited by darkness. Levels of melatonin peak in the middle of the night and fall gradually during the second half. When you wake up in the morning your melatonin levels are usually at its lowest. Levels of melatonin affect your sleep-wake cycle causing not only drowsiness but also lowering your body temperature.

Melatonin also functions as an antioxidant meaning it can prevent or repair damage done to certain cells in your body. In less complex life forms this is melatonin’s only known function. It collects OH, O2, NO and can cross not only cell membranes but also the blood-brain barrier giving it antioxidant properties. [2]

Safety and Side Effects of Melatonin

Melatonin is regarded as being an extremely safe nootropic. No major side effects have been reported and many studies have concluded melatonin is safe for short-term use. Some minor, unwanted side effects may include next-day grogginess, irritability, vivid dream or nightmares, and nausea. [16]

There have not been any studies conducted on melatonin users for longer than 3-months. Because of this it is recommended that anyone using melatonin take one week break in usage every 2-3 months.  Melatonin should also not be taken before operation of heavy machinery as it is known to cause drowsiness.

Where Can I Buy Melatonin?

Melatonin is readily available both online and locally. It can be found everywhere from pharmacies to health stores to major retailers. The best prices can be found online, however. You can compare prices from various online retailers by using our buyer’s guide (in progress) or Buy Melatonin Now!

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Melatonin FAQ

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Melatonin. If you have a question that’s not on this list, send it to us at [email protected] and we will answer it for you.

Should I Take Melatonin?

Melatonin is a great nootropic if you are looking for a natural, non-prescription sleep aid. I personally had been using Melatonin to deal with insomnia issues before I even started this website and I have yet to experience any unwanted side effects. It will give you much more vivid dreams which I see as a bonus to its usage.

It has also been proven by studies to increase ones basal metabolic rate. If you are currently trying to lose weight it can hurt to take a melatonin before you go to bed every night. You will burn calories in any state faster than you would without it. It must be taken every day to achieve this goal.

This nootropic isn’t the most proven or powerful smart drug when it comes to boosting learning or memory. I have not experienced any noticeable differences from my personal use even though I usually only use it on nights when I am not as tired as I would like to be. If learning or memory is your goal I would suggest you look for a different nootropic.

I think that everyone should have a bottle of melatonin in their medicine cabinet just for those occasional nights where sleep just won’t seem to come. I wouldn’t add it to my every day regimen unless I had serious sleep issues or I was trying to lose weight.

What Are Some Notable Melatonin Studies?

One study conducted in the year 2000 aimed to analyze the link between peoples’ decrease in melatonin levels that come with age and decrease in people’s basal metabolic rate that comes with age. Melatonin was dispersed to Dawley Rate for 12 weeks.  The study concluded that 12 weeks of chronic melatonin use decreased body weight by 7% when compared to the controls. [4]

 A report was also conducted which analyzed a number of studies conducted on melatonin and its effects on various sleep disorders. The studies reviewed were limited to those conducted on human subjects with no restrictions for age, gender, or ethnicity. Only studies with randomized control trials were used. The report concluded that melatonin decreased sleep onset latency in normal sleepers and increased sleep efficiency in normal sleepers. It did not have an effect on the onset of REM sleep in normal sleepers. [1]

Cited Studies

1.  Buscemi, N. et al. (2004). “Melatonin for Treatment of Sleep Disorders. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 108″ (Review). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/melatsum.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-25.

2.  Hardeland, RüDiger (2005). “Antioxidative Protection by Melatonin: Multiplicity of Mechanisms from Radical Detoxification to Radical Avoidance”. Endocrine 27 (2): 119–30. doi:10.1385/ENDO:27:2:119. PMID 16217125.

3.  Larson, John; Jessen, Ruth E.; Uz, Tolga; Arslan, Ahmet D.; Kurtuncu, Murat; Imbesi, Marta; Manev, Hari (2006). “Impaired hippocampal long-term potentiation in melatonin MT2 receptor-deficient mice”. Neuroscience Letters 393 (1): 23–6. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.09.040. PMID 16203090.

4.  Wolden-Hanson, T; Mitton, DR; McCants, RL; Yellon, SM; Wilkinson, CW; Matsumoto, AM; Rasmussen, DD (2000). “Daily melatonin administration to middle-aged male rats suppresses body weight, intraabdominal adiposity, and plasma leptin and insulin independent of food intake and total body fat”. Endocrinology 141 (2): 487–97. doi:10.1210/en.141.2.487. PMID 10650927.

5.  Tan, D.-X.; Manchester, L. C.; Fuentes-Broto, L.; Paredes, S. D.; Reiter, R. J. (2011). “Significance and application of melatonin in the regulation of brown adipose tissue metabolism: relation to human obesity”. Obesity Reviews 12 (3): 167–88. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00756.x. PMID 20557470.

6.  “Properly Timed Light, Melatonin Lift Winter Depression By Syncing Rhythms”. National Institute of Mental Health. 2006-05-01. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2006/properly-timed-light-melatonin-lift-winter-depression-by-syncing-rhythms.shtml. Retrieved 2011-08-17.

7. Mills, Edward; Wu, Ping; Seely, Dugald; Guyatt, Gordon (2005). “Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis”. Journal of Pineal Research 39 (4): 360–6. doi:10.1111/j.1600-079X.2005.00258.x. PMID 16207291.

8. Reiter, R; Herman, T; Meltz, M (1996). “Melatonin and radioprotection from genetic damage: In vivo/in vitro studies with human volunteers”. Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology 371 (3–4): 221–8. doi:10.1016/S0165-1218(96)90110-X.

9. Reiter, RJ; Herman, TS; Meltz, ML (1998). “Melatonin reduces gamma radiation-induced primary DNA damage in human blood lymphocytes”. Mutation research 397 (2): 203–8. PMID 9541644.

10. Maestroni, Georges JM (2001). “The immunotherapeutic potential of melatonin”. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs 10 (3): 467–76. doi:10.1517/13543784.10.3.467. PMID 11227046.

11.  Carrillo-Vico, A; Reiter, RJ; Lardone, PJ; Herrera, JL; Fernández-Montesinos, R; Guerrero, JM; Pozo, D (2006). “The modulatory role of melatonin on immune responsiveness”. Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England : 2000) 7 (5): 423–31. PMID 16729718.

12. Zhdanova, I. V. (2001). “Melatonin Treatment for Age-Related Insomnia”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86 (10): 4727–30. doi:10.1210/jc.86.10.4727.

13. Lewis, Alan (1999). Melatonin and the Biological Clock. McGraw-Hill. p. 23. ISBN 0-87983-734-9

14. Lewy, Alfred J.; Emens, Jonathan S.; Sack, Robert L.; Hasler, Brant P.; Bernert, Rebecca A. (2002). “Low, but not high, doses of melatonin entrained a free-running blind person with a long circadian period”. Chronobiology International 19 (3): 649–58. doi:10.1081/CBI-120004546. PMID 12069043.

15.  Sack, Robert L.; Brandes, Richard W.; Kendall, Adam R.; Lewy, Alfred J. (2000). “Entrainment of Free-Running Circadian Rhythms by Melatonin in Blind People”. New England Journal of Medicine 343 (15): 1070–77. doi:10.1056/NEJM200010123431503. PMID 11027741.

16. Brent Bauer, M.D.. “Melatonin side effects: What are the risks?”. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/melatonin-side-effects/AN01717. Retrieved 2011-08-17.