Melatonin Facts - All Natural Nightcap
When I began taking weight training seriously, there were days
when I felt that I needed an extra boost of energy for my workouts.
As the saying goes, "what goes up must come down", and
it was Melatonin that helped me relax and enjoy a great nights sleep.
to Newsweek® magazine Nov, 6th. 1995, - "Melatonin is the
all-natural nightcap. It's secreted by the pineal gland, a pea-size
structure at the center of the brain, as our eyes register the fall
"At night melatonin is produced to help our bodies regulate
our sleep-wake cycles. The amount of it produced by our body seems
to lessen as we get older. Scientists believe this may be why young
people have less problem sleeping than older people."
"Studies suggest that... supplements can hasten sleep and
ease jet lag, without the hazards or side effects of prescription
Melatonin has many other uses such as:
- making people feel better
- strengthening the immune system
- reducing free radicals in the body
- an anti-oxidant
- immno-modulator in cancer
- delaying sleep-phase disorders
- combating jet lag.
Tests are still under way so there is much to still be learned
about it and its effects on the human body.
According to the article, a typical comment from discussion groups
on the Internet is, "'Folks, I've tried it and it's great.
It has ...restored my sleep cycle, given me lots of energy.'"
What would lead someone to need melatonin in the first place? In
my case, the energy supplements that I take when I am preparing
for shows may often leave me with the feeling that I am not able
to sleep. For other individuals the situation may be for an entirely
different reason. Many drugs have been implicated as causing insomnia.
At times, it is difficult to know whether insomnia is due to a medication
prescribed for an illness or to the underlying illness itself.
Drugs that may cause insomnia.
- Beta blockers
- Oral contraceptives
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Protriptyline (Vivactil)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Thyroid hormone
The hormone melatonin is known as the all-natural nightcap, and
is one of dozens sleep aids. As our eyes register the fall of darkness,
N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, or melatonin, is created naturally
by the body within the pineal gland of the brain. At night melatonin
is produced to help our bodies regulate our sleep-wake cycles. At
dawn, the production of melatonin stops. It is heavily regulated
by both day-night cycles and seasonal changes. The amount of melatonin
produced by our body seems to decrease as we get older. Scientists
believe this may be why young people have less problem sleeping
than those that are older.
The recommended dosage.
The appropriate dose can vary enormously from person to person.
There are 1.5 mg and 3.0 mg tablets available. You will want to
start off with a 1.5 mg tablet each night about 30 minutes before
bed-time, and work your way to larger doses if needed. Personally
I have found that 3.0 mg works fine for me but there are nights
when I know that I have to be up in six hours and will take ½
of a 3.0 mg tablet. There is nothing worse the getting breakfast
ready feeling like lethargic zombie when you know you slept solidly
the night before. With melatonin you should normally wake up well
refreshed and full of energy. If you wake up feeling a little tired
you should reduce your dosage until you wake up feeling well refreshed.
You will not have the hangover effect you may experience with over
the counter or prescription sleeping pills.
According to one report featured in Newsweek® magazine,
"10 percent of the users said the hormone did nothing for them,
and another 10 percent complained of side effects such as nightmares,
headaches, morning grogginess, mild depression, and low sex drive.
In past studies, researchers have given people up to 600 to 3,000
times the usual doses - without causing any toxicity." As an
occasional user of Melatonin over the past 8 years, I must say that
it's the intense dreams that you want to be aware of. I know that
not every ones dreams are affected but if you want my take, Melatonin
can enhance your dreams to where you would never know you are dreaming.
This can be very frightening.
Who should avoid it?
- women who are pregnant or nursing (since no one knows how excessive
exposure to the hormone might affect a fetus or infant)
- people with severe allergies or autoimmune diseases (melatonin
could exacerbate such conditions by stimulating the immune system)
- people with immune-system cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia
(for the same reason)
- healthy children (who already produce it in abundance).
Women trying to conceive should also think twice about taking Melatonin,
since high doses can act as a contraceptive. As with any substance
introduced into your body, if you have a medical condition you should
always consult your physician first before taking melatonin.
Melatonin: your sex life and lifespan.
There is no evidence to support melatonin will improve your
sex life. However, a 1995 rodent study suggests that taking small
amounts of melatonin on a regular basis may prevent the age-related
decline in testosterone levels, allowing men to be more active sexually
in their later years.
As for your lifespan, in tests on both rats and mice melatonin
caused a significant 20% increase in their lifespan. If melatonin
does allow you to live longer and healthier it could do so because
- reduce free radical damage
- stimulate an aging immune system
- protect the cardiovascular system
- preserve a youthful circadian rhythm
- stimulate the production of growth hormone
Melatonin and Bodybuilders.
Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiast may find themselves in a
state of being over trained. The common side affect of over training
is the inability to sleep well at night. Bodybuilders use Melatonin
to help them get their full eight hours sleep. Their precious sleep
time is when they are recovering from their workouts and growing.
I can count the number of times on my fingers, that I have tried
a few different types of sleeping pills, it Melatonin is one that
I feel safe in taking. Waking up feeling well rested is never an
issue granted that I take only what I need. I wrote about Melatonin
in this two part series (with Caffeine, part 1) because in our Go
Go Go society we live in, we may over look what we are doing to
our mind and body. Having to ingest a sleep aid each and every night
for weeks on end is something you will want to make sure you actually
need. Be aware of your lifestyle. What is causing you to not sleep
at night? If the answer is not clear, and you feel that you need
help, contact a doctor or natural path.