The melatonin is a hormone known for its role in controlling sleep cycles . This substance is produced by the pineal gland from tryptophan , an essential amino acid. Melatonin is in charge of establishing the so-called “biological clock” and of controlling the circadian phases, which are the signals that the body receives to sleep or to wake up.Its influence even indicates to us through the circadian phases when it is time to reproduce. This hormone responds to external stimuli , mainly to light , whether artificial or natural; therefore, its concentration increases when the retina receives less light. As a consequence, drowsiness is generated and later sleep at nightfall .

Melatonin decreases in the body when light levels increase, leading to wakefulness at dawn . For this reason, in nature most animals sleep at night and wake up during the day, some predators and nocturnal species come out.

What is melatonin for?

The presence of melatonin in the body can be favored when eating cereals and foods rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid that functions as its chemical precursor.

Melatonin is used to:

  • Remedy sleep disorders
  • Counteract depression
  • Prevent premature aging

Remedy sleep disorders

Melatonin is essential for sleeping. Therefore, low levels of this can cause insomnia, both temporary and chronic. It denotes treatments of this hormone synthetically to treat these disorders, especially in presentation of sublingual tablets , because melatonin can be absorbed better under the tongue.

Sleep can be induced with melatonin supplements, with success in cases of mild to moderate insomnia. They also work when schedule changes unbalance people’s lifestyle , to adapt the sleep cycle to this condition.

Blind people who suffer from sleep problems can be treated in this way, to get it fixed.

Counteract depression

Melatonin helps you fall asleep and prevent depression.

Depression is related to low levels of serotonin and melatonin, so many treatments include this neurohormone as part of therapy.

Prevent premature aging

Lack of sleep encourages cellular oxidation. Therefore, having normal levels of melatonin and getting enough sleep to rest, cell repair occurs more easily . Melatonin is believed to help prolong life, but there are no categorical studies on this. What is proven is that the elderly who have good levels of melatonin live healthier.

Contraindications of melatonin

The consumption of melatonin as a dietary supplement should be monitored by a medical professional or completely avoided, in people such as:

  • Pregnant women (it is not advisable)
  • Young children (only under strict observation of the pediatrician)
  • People who work operating heavy machinery
  • People who work driving large cars

Side effects of melatonin

Melatonin can have side effects, which are generally temporary and not very dangerous; even so, it is recommended to ingest less than 800 milligrams per day, and only under medical prescription.

The most common side effects of melatonin are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Hypothermia

This article is informational in nature and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.

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