What happens to our melatonin levels as we age?

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Our own melatonin loses some of its potency as we age—our receptors for that neurotransmitter don't create the same power from the dose of melatonin they receive. As you get older, you also lose some of the oomph you get from melatonin, which may explain why so many of us suffer aging-related sleep and health problems. In fact, melatonin production peaks around age 5 and starts a downhill slide from there.

Unfortunately, we lose up to 80 percent of those original levels by the time we reach 60. And that's likely one of the reasons we don't sleep as well when we get older.

When you're 20 and can easily sleep until noon, your levels of melatonin average about 80 picograms per milliliter; at 60, those levels drop down to 10. At age 20 you might have had a level of 10 in the late afternoon. You slept through that late-afternoon class. We know that 10 is less effective at age 60 than it was in the afternoon at age 20.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.