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WHAT IS MELATONIN?

Melatonin is a readily available supplement aimed at promoting sleep. Here is everything you need to know about it!

 

Melatonin is a hormone we all naturally create in the brain, and is associated with our desire to fall asleep. Produced in the pineal gland, this hormone is pumped out in high quantities when the body begins to perceive less light through the eye. It is the part of our natural internal clock that tells us to go to sleep when it gets dark. As more melatonin is released into the body, we tend to get drowsy and seek out slumber! This is why you will often hear people telling you not to use phones and other tech in bed, as the light produced disrupts the bodies melatonin production, making it harder to sleep!

Because of melatonin’s ability to make us feel sleepy, it has rather useful applications for those working shifts, likely to suffer from jet-lag, or suffering insomnia.

Although the body naturally produces melatonin, it can also be found in a variety of food, such as certain meats, grains, fruits and vegetables. For larger, more controlled doses, melatonin is also available as a supplement.

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Effects of melatonin on sleep

When used as a supplement, melatonin is often taken in pill form. Its main use is as a sleep aid. This is best done in a dark room, as light can inhibit melatonin. This makes melatonin suitable for a number of situations, and allows people to have greater control over their internal body clock.


For those struggling to sleep, melatonin helps synchronise to the environmental light-dark cycle, increasing the odds of falling asleep – this is particularly applicable to the elderly, who can often struggle to get to sleep.

Other uses include the lessening of sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, jet-lag, and disruption caused by shift work. However, it is important to understand that melatonin is not a cure, nor does in singularly induce sleep – but instead aids it. It must be taken at the right time before sleep for it to be most effective. It has been found to reduce sleep latency, improve quality of sleep, and improve waking alertness

Melatonin side effects

Long-term use of melatonin is not considered to cause any serious side effects. Some long-term users report feelings of nausea, next-day grogginess, lower body temperature, and small changes to blood pressure. These side effects disappear upon stopping use of the supplement. Always consult a medical professional if in doubt.

HISTORY OF MELATONIN

Melatonin was discovered by the scientist Aaron Lerner while he was searching for a compound that could make human skin paler. It had already been found that extracts from the pineal gland made frog skin paler, so Lerner thought it worth investigating. After a long time of testing, Lerner found out which compound was responsible, and called it melatonin (the word mela comes from melamine, which produces skin pigment). Further investigation found that melatonin had far-reaching effects in the body.

Science has found melatonin receptors throughout the body, implying it in a number of bodily functions. For example, it affects the central nervous system, gastronomical system, cardiovascular system, and the immune system. As such, melatonin has become a popular supplement for well-being.

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Melatonin