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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.

Melatonin light-darkcycle                                           Serotonin light-darkcycle

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.