How can melatonin help me sleep better?

Carmen Patrick Mohan, MD
Internal Medicine
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by a small part of the brain called the pineal gland during times of darkness. This means, the level of melatonin in the body normally increases in the evening and wanes in the morning when the sun comes up. There are multiple ongoing investigations into how melatonin may contribute to wellness, usually by improving sleep quality. For example in both children and adults, melatonin supplementation appears to help shorten the time between lying down and falling asleep. Melatonin has been shown to be helpful for some travelers experiencing jet leg and for night-shift workers. In patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, it appears to help lengthen the REM cycle of sleep. Researchers are starting to broaden the scope of their inquiry into the usefulness of melatonin. One study on older patients with high blood pressure showed melatonin helped normalize night time blood pressures (reference #3). There are also some studies in children that show melatonin supplementation lowers the amount of anesthesia required during surgery and also improves pain control afterward. All of these results are exciting, but there are a few things to consider. Melatonin is not without side effects. Some patients have reported nausea, dizziness, daytime sleepiness, depressed mood, and difficulty thinking. All this to say that melatonin is a hormone with complicated functions and requires much more research to determine its safety and efficacy. If you are having difficulty sleeping, talk to your doctor about the best approach for you.

Treatment with melatonin effectively improved the clinical and neurophysiological aspects of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD), especially elderly individuals with underlying neurodegenerative disorders. This meta-analysis provided some evidence that melatonin improves sleep quality in patients with AD and PD, and melatonin can be considered as a possible sole or add-on therapy in neurodegenerative disorders patients with RBD.
Melatonin is thought to regulate sleep cycles and help to set the brain’s biological clock. But the amount of melatonin produced by the body lessens as we age, with adults experiencing about a 37 percent decline in daily melatonin output between the ages of twenty and seventy. We know that melatonin is a potent free radical scavenger, and melatonin deficiency is related to suppressed immunocompetence.
Melatonin supplements are sold over-the-counter at most pharmacies; talk to your doctor and see if this might help your sleep problem.
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Diet for a Pain-Free Life: A Revolutionary Plan to Lose Weight, Stop Pain, Sleep Better and Feel Great in 21 Days, ADA...sound nutritional, delicious..a godsend to pain sufferers.

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People with certain sleep issues can benefit from taking melatonin. Find out how melatonin can help you catch much-needed Zzz's by watching this video. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Many who have sleep problems turn to a sleep aid called melatonin. But is it safe? Learn about melatonin as Dr. Oz discusses what it does and how it affects sleep in this video.

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How Can Melatonin Help Me Sleep Better?
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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.