Of the body’s many hormones, melatonin is perhaps one of the most widely known. This is primarily due to its notoriety as a safe, effective, and natural sleep aid. However, in addition to supporting sleep, melatonin also has other qualities that encourage greater wellness. Read on to learn about the basics of melatonin, its role as a sleep regulator, and its many other health benefits.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland located near the center of the brain. This pinecone-shaped piece of the endocrine system is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm or wake/sleep cycle. A great deal of the pineal gland’s influence on sleep is exerted through the release of melatonin. Depending on the amount of melatonin in our system, we feel more tired or alert. Increased melatonin encourages sleep while reduced values allows for wakefulness.
Melatonin values are dictated in part by the amount of light that enters our retina. The less light present, the more our melatonin values increase. Conversely, as exposure to light increases, the release of melatonin decreases. This is why, in healthy systems, melatonin values are highest during the night and at their lowest during the day.
Light is not the only factor regarding the amount of melatonin in our system. Traveling through time zones, irregular work hours, stress, poor vision, exposure to blue light (such as that emitted by TVs, computers, and phones), consumption of alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco, and the use of certain medications can all contribute to irregular melatonin values. Such dysregulation can result in a variety of issues with the most prominent pertaining to sleep quality.
The Sleep-Regulating Role of Melatonin
Melatonin is also called the sleep hormone and for good reason. The hormone plays an essential role in maintaining the circadian rhythm. An imbalance or deficiency of melatonin can dysregulate the wake/sleep cycle thereby triggering a significant and long-lasting decline in sleep quality. Chronic sleep difficulties such as those caused by a lack of melatonin can lead to serious health issues including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, and other chronic disorders.
Contrasting the harmful effects of deficiency, multiple studies show that maintaining proper melatonin values encourages higher quality sleep, helps people fall asleep faster, discourages sleep interruptions, and promotes feeling well-rested throughout the day. For this reason, melatonin supplements are frequently employed by those who travel and suffer from jet lag. However, anyone wanting to improve their sleep quality may benefit from supplementing with melatonin.
Other Important Benefits of Melatonin
Although its most well-known benefits relate to sleep quality, melatonin may also support other important areas of wellness. Some of the other systems and functions positively affected by melatonin are discussed below.
Animal studies show that melatonin stimulates the production of glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme is considered to be a powerful protectant. This is because it supports the breakdown of free radicals and has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting qualities. Because melatonin encourages glutathione activity, supplementation support the prevention of cancers and various conditions relating to the heart and brain. Furthermore, studies suggest the antioxidant support provided by melatonin may help heal stomach ulcers, improve gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and alleviate heart burn.
The antioxidant benefits of melatonin also help protect against eye disease including age-related degeneration. In fact, maintaining appropriate melatonin levels has been shown to protect eye health. One study found that regular supplementation with melatonin on a daily basis helped protect retinas and limit eye degeneration.
Tinnitus causes a constant ringing sound or sensation in the ears. Patients with tinnitus most often experience this when there is little ambient noise or while falling asleep. Studies show that supplementing with melatonin may reduce symptoms of tinnitus, thereby making it easier to fall asleep and improving sleep quality throughout the night.
Some studies suggest that melatonin may act as an immune buffer allowing for more stable immune activity in the presence of immunosuppressants. The anti-inflammatory quality of melatonin helps prevent excess immune activation thereby limiting the risk of inflammation-related damage. It is posited that the regulatory qualities of melatonin may prove to be useful for treating many chronic disorders.
How to Supplement Safely with Melatonin
Perhaps the best way of acquiring the many benefits of melatonin is through supplementation. There are several viable methods of supplementing with melatonin. However, sublingual delivery is considered to be one of the safest and most effective because it allows for greater absorption which facilitate faster results. When selecting a melatonin supplement, be sure to choose a quality product such as HoltraCeuticals’ Melatonin.
Melatonin is considered to be an exceptionally safe supplement. However, melatonin may interact with other medications including antidepressants, birth control medications, blood pressure regulators, blood thinners, steroids, and immunosuppressants. As with all supplements, speak with a doctor before supplementing with melatonin to avoid any possible negative interactions. Some patients who take melatonin as a sleep aid complain of morning grogginess. This is indicative that the dose is too high and can likely be resolved by simply reducing the dose.
Maintaining Your Health with Melatonin
Although melatonin is renowned for its sleep-supporting qualities, there are many other important benefits that it provides. Maintaining healthy values of melatonin through supplementation can improve multiple areas of wellness including immune function, eye health, and may even protect against serious illness. If you want to increase the quality of your sleep and overall wellness, consider using a superior melatonin supplement such as HoltraCeuticals’ Melatonin.
1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem.” Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
2. Liu, Jie et al. “Melatonin effects on hard tissues: bone and tooth.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 14,5 10063-74. 10 May. 2013.
3. Ethan D. Buhr et al. “Temperature as a Universal Resetting Cue for Mammalian Circadian Oscillators.” Science 15 Oct 2010: Vol. 330, Issue 6002, pp. 379-385.
4. Smolensky MH et al. “Role of sleep-wake cycle on blood pressure circadian rhythms and hypertension.” Sleep Med. 2007 Sep;8(6):668-80. Epub 2007 Mar 26.
5. Harb F et al. “Lack of exposure to natural light in the workspace is associated with physiological, sleep and depressive symptoms.” Chronobiol Int. 2015 Apr;32(3):368-75.
6. Ferracioli-Oda, Eduardo et al. “Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders.” PloS one vol. 8,5 e63773. 17 May. 2013.
7. Lundmark PO et al. “Role of melatonin in the eye and ocular dysfunctions.” Vis Neurosci. 2006 Nov-Dec;23(6):853-62.
8. Bandyopadhyay D et al. “Melatonin protects against gastric ulceration and increases the efficacy of ranitidine and omeprazole in reducing gastric damage.” J Pineal Res. 2002 Aug;33(1):1-7.
9. Rosenberg SI et al. “Effect of melatonin on tinnitus.” Laryngoscope. 1998 Mar;108(3):305-10.