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Melatonin is a natural sleeping hormone produced in our brain, which helps you sleep. The levels of melatonin rise in the evening, as its production is induced by darkness and drop in the morning because of repression by light (1).
Well-known Fact about Melatonin
Several studies have shown that melatonin is beneficial in sleep disorders. An analysis performed on 19 studies has demonstrated that melatonin in adults reduces the time required to fall asleep, improves overall sleep quality and total sleep time (2).
Melatonin is also effective for sleep disorders in children. Science has demonstrated that melatonin is a safe and efficient treatment for insomnia in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (3).
Additionally, an analysis of 10 clinical trials has shown that melatonin is effective in treating and preventing jet lag. Jet lag symptoms include disturbed sleep, daytime sleepiness, indigestion, and fatigue (4).
Furthermore, melatonin can also improve the daytime sleep quality and duration in people with shift work disorder (5).
Did you know that besides its primary role in helping you sleep, melatonin can benefit in other ways too?
Melatonin is considered to be useful for migraine headaches. Science has indicated that melatonin taken at bedtime has reduced the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines (6).
Moreover, multiple studies have shown that prolonged release of melatonin is safe and effective in reducing night blood pressure in patients suffering from nocturnal hypertension (7).
Besides being secreted by the brain, melatonin is also produced in gastrointestinal tract. It has a potential therapeutic effect on Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (8), which is a common complaint associated with symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion. The gastro defence mechanism of melatonin is due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Science is also examining melatonin’s role in ulcer healing, gastroprotection (9) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (10).
As a matter of fact, melatonin acts as a powerful anti-oxidant and protects from excessive free radical formation. Numerous studies have demonstrated that antioxidants are critical for health and longevity. Therefore, science is on the path for research on melatonin’s anti-aging effect. Melatonin also modulates and defends mitochondria; the main energy producers in our body. It helps mitochondria to enhance energy production (11).
The current research areas for melatonin are anticancer and antidiabetic effects. It also holds potential therapeutic value in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Safety regarding Prolonged Use
Multiple studies have demonstrated that daily use of melatonin, for up to 6 months is safe for adults (12) (10).
Causes of Melatonin Deficiency
According to science, melatonin levels start reducing with age. Other than this, factors such as chronic stress, lack of sleep, night shifts and nutrient deficiencies also contribute to low levels of melatonin.
Sources of Melatonin
Fruits like bananas, apples, strawberries, pineapples, tomatoes and grapes are natural sources of melatonin (13).
In addition to that, Tart Montmorency cherries are also reported to have very high concentration of melatonin (14).
Moreover, melatonin supplement proves to be a huge aid for melatonin deficiency.
1. Brainard GC, Hanifin JP, Greeson JM, Byrne B, Glickman G, Gerner E, et al. Action Spectrum for Melatonin Regulation in Humans : Evidence for a Novel Circadian Photoreceptor. 2001;21(16):6405–12.
2. Ferracioli-oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH. Meta-Analysis : Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. 2013;8(5):6–11.
3. Weiss MD1, Wasdell MB, Bomben MM, Rea KJ FR. Sleep hygiene and melatonin treatment for children and adolescents with ADHD and initial insomnia. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry [Internet]. 2006; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16670647?dopt=Abstract
4. Herxheimer A, Kj P. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag ( Review ). Cochrane Libr [Internet]. 2010;(2). Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001520/epdf/standard
5. SHARKEY KM, FOGG LFA, EASTMAN CI. Effects of melatonin administration on daytime sleep after simulated night shift work. J Sleep Res [Internet]. 2006;10(3):181–92. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11696071?dopt=Abstract
6. Peres MF1, Zukerman E, da Cunha Tanuri F, Moreira FR C-NJ. Melatonin, 3 mg, is effective for migraine prevention. Neurology [Internet]. 2004; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15326268?dopt=Abstract
7. Grossman E, Zisapel N. Effect of melatonin on nocturnal blood pressure : meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Vasc Health Risk Manag [Internet]. 2011;577–84. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3180511/pdf/vhrm-7-577.pdf
8. Kandil TS, Mousa AA, El-gendy AA, Abbas AM. The potential therapeutic effect of melatonin in gastro-esophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterol [Internet]. 2010; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821302/
9. Brzozowska I, Strzalka M, Drozdowicz D, Konturek SJ BT. Mechanisms of esophageal protection, gastroprotection and ulcer healing by melatonin. implications for the therapeutic use of melatonin in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcer disease. Curr Pharm Des [Internet]. 2014; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24251671
10. Chojnacki C1, Walecka-Kapica E, Lokieć K, Pawłowicz M, Winczyk K, Chojnacki J KG. Influence of melatonin on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in postmenopausal women. Endokrynol Pol [Internet]. 2013; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23653274?dopt=Abstract
11. Ramis MR, Esteban S, Miralles A, Tan D, Reiter RJ. Caloric restriction, resveratrol and melatonin : Role of SIRT1 and implications for ageing and related-diseases. Mech Ageing Dev [Internet]. 2015;146-148:28–41. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2015.03.008
12. Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, Mcconnachie A, Nir T, Laudon M, et al. Nightly treatment of primary insomnia with prolonged release melatonin for 6 months : a randomised placebo controlled trial on age and endogenous melatonin as predictors of efficacy and safety. BMC Med [Internet]. 2010;1–18. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933606/pdf/1741-7015-8-51.pdf
13. Zhao Y1, Tan DX, Lei Q, Chen H, Wang L, Li QT, Gao Y KJ. Melatonin and its potential biological functions in the fruits of sweet cherry. J Pineal Res [Internet]. 2013; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23480341
14. Howatson G1, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP EJ. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr [Internet]. 2012; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038497
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