Think melatonin is only beneficial for catching some “z’s”? Think again!
Melatonin is a hormone produced primarily in the pineal gland in the brain. It has many functions in the body, but most notably, it controls our circadian rhythms. The body’s circadian rhythm is an internal clock that dictates when you’re tired, sleeping, or awake.
The production of melatonin is usually triggered by darkness so that our bodies get tired and prepared to sleep. However, low levels of melatonin production and/or sleep disturbances may lead people to seek out melatonin supplements.
In our modern society, a lack of melatonin production may be caused by an increase in light sources. For example, melatonin production can be reduced or stopped entirely by looking at our phones or watching TV at night. A lack of sunlight during the day, alcohol, caffeine, and stress may also cause our melatonin levels to be affected.
As people age, their melatonin production may also decrease. Any interference in melatonin production could lead to poorer sleep quality, insomnia, and resulting symptoms of sleep disturbances.
But, melatonin is more than just a sleep hormone and supplement. Read on to discover 5 eye-opening benefits of taking melatonin.
Beyond Dreamland: 5 Health Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin receptors are found in the brain, ovaries, blood vessels, and intestinal tract. Explore the following benefits of melatonin and how it helps to promote good health.
Not all people’s melatonin production decreases as they age. While this may lead people to believe that older people don’t need as much sleep, they actually need the same amount of sleep as younger adults to remain healthy.
One cause of accelerated aging is poor sleep. Agitation and stress resulting from lack of sleep may also cause accelerated aging. Melatonin may be able to reduce or eliminate age acceleration by providing a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin may also be able to be used as an anti-aging agent. But, the use of melatonin has only been tested on a small mammal, the shrew. The study found that the shrews that were given melatonin slowed down the aging process by 3 months.
While 3 months doesn’t seem like a lot for us humans, for the small mammal who only lives in captivity for no more than 30 months, this was a significant period of time.
You can purchase melatonin at most drug and grocery stores, but you can also purchase it online from a company like América Vitaminas. Always make sure to speak with your doctor before taking melatonin, especially, if you have a pre-existing condition or take other medications.
2. Heart Health
Melatonin has the ability to protect the heart in a variety of ways. It can help to prevent strokes and heart attacks and can help to lower blood pressure.
Melatonin helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Its direct free radical scavenger activity also protects the heart.
Melatonin is able to help regulate blood pressure because of its anti-hypertensive effects.
It also helps to lower the risk of becoming diabetic. In part, this is because low melatonin levels resulting in lack of sleep can cause someone to crave highly sugary and processed foods. A study also found that people with lower melatonin levels in their pancreas were two times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes can also be harmful to the heart and to other organs in the body. In fact, people with diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. This is because high glucose levels damage the blood vessels and nerves which control heart functions.
3. Migraine Management
All migraine sufferers want to find relief from their painful headaches and other symptoms. And prescription drugs, unfortunately, don’t work for everyone. On the other hand, others may be more inclined to try an alternative to prescription drugs altogether.
Melatonin is a preventative treatment option that has worked for many to relieve their migraine attacks and symptoms. Scientists believe that this is because melatonin production helps to reduce pain. And since migraine sufferers have lower levels of melatonin at night, taking melatonin may help to provide them with relief.
In fact, many sufferers who take 3mg of melatonin per day found that they had 50% fewer migraine attacks. Melatonin has also be found to reduce the duration of migraine attacks.
4. Improvement of Menopause and PMDD Symptoms
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD is a severe mental disorder that is a more extreme form of PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome. Sufferers of PMDD experience anxiety, depression, and anger a week or two before their period. They find relief days after their period begins, but have to deal with this condition month after month.
1 in 20 women of childbearing age has PMDD. But, melatonin may be able to help relieve the symptoms, which could be the result of low melatonin levels experienced during the menstrual cycle.
Melatonin has also been shown to reduce symptoms experienced by women during menopause.
5. Neurological Protection
Melatonin acts as a powerful anti-oxidant in the body. As an anti-oxidant, melatonin is able to be absorbed easily by the cells and fight off free radicals and toxins which can damage and atrophy the cells. This makes melatonin a valuable tool for protecting the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
It might also help Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease sufferers to get a better night’s rest which can improve their symptoms and reduce agitation and confusion.
Are Melatonin Supplements Right for You?
Melatonin supplements may be right for you if are experiencing any of these conditions. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor about melatonin therapy before beginning to take melatonin. This is especially true if you are on other medications that might interact with melatonin supplements or intend to take melatonin for long periods of time.
Melatonin supplements come in natural and synthetic forms and have very few side effects. It is safe for most adults to take, but women who are pregnant or nursing should not take melatonin.
If you’re interested in taking melatonin, make sure to always discuss your medical history with your doctor to ensure you get the correct dosage and that it’s safe to take with any pre-existing conditions you may have.
Want to learn healthy sleep habits? Check out our tips for sleeping well.