The Benefits of Melatonin to Promote Sleep
By Fabiola Castillo
Melatonin is also called the "hormone of darkness." This is because production of this particular hormone is only permitted at night. It is present in human beings, animals and in some other living organisms like algae. It has been seen that these hormones help improve sleep, and melatonin containing products have been available in the U.S. as a nutritional supplement since the year 1993.
According to scientists, sleep gives our body the chance to maintain and repair the body and mind. When we are sleeping, cell growth, and cell repair takes place fighting the various effects of harmful UV rays and stress. Sleep deprivation can take a negative toll on human functioning.
Melatonin hormone is produced by a small gland located near the center of the brain; this gland is called the pineal gland. Melatonin is responsible for controlling the "circadian rhythm"; i.e. the 24-hour body clock that controls when we feel like sleeping. Melatonin release is stimulated by darkness and is not permitted in the presence of light, for some of us this is root of sleep deprivation.
Shift workers have to sleep during the day when melatonin levels are at a low; this makes them work against their natural circadian rhythms. Frequent travelers also suffer from a similar issue, changing time zones can confuse the body clock. As a result, it can have a negative effect on your sleep patterns.
Usually, most people have enough melatonin in their bodies but the elderly may lack this hormone as the production of melatonin decreases with growing age.
It is very much possible to reset our body clocks by consuming melatonin supplements. If you are a shift worker, melatonin may be your best bet. If you feel the need to take melatonin then it is wise to start with a low dose of 1 mg, after some time you can work that up to 3 mg. However if you are still experiencing trouble falling asleep, you may want to try other alternatives. Keep in mind that melatonin can act as a mild contraceptive, so avoid consuming it.
Melatonin is a very important antioxidant. Because of this property, it is also being studied as a possible treatment for cancer. The antioxidant effects may enhance the efficiency of the drugs and may help reduce its side effects.
Melatonin is a hormone that promotes restful and REM sleep. Because of this, it has been seen that it leads to a greater dream frequency and that too for longer durations. It may also lead to increased REM sleep just before waking up, a time when it is easier for you to remember your dreams.
You can also stimulate melatonin release by eating food rich in tryptophan, food items like turkey, milk, eggs, etc. These food items produce serotonin, which works for the production of melatonin in the body. Another great way to stimulate the production of melatonin is to get proper sunlight in the daytime; this is an effective way to ensure that your body clock is properly set.
All in all, melatonin is very important for good health and proper rest. If you are unable to get proper sleep and are running low on the melatonin hormone, consult a specialist or try out the above-mentioned tips. Remember that at least 6 hours of sleep is crucial for good health so do not compromise with it. Sweet dreams!
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