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Melatonin - The Sleep Drug

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland that is located at the center of the brain. This hormone regulates the body's sleep and wake cycles. The chemical name for melatonin is N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine and this hormone is crucial to the biological circadian rhythm of the body. Melatonin plays the role of helping our bodies to understand when it's time to go to sleep and when to wake up. Melatonin production hinges on the presence of light - more melatonin is synthesized at night when compared to it's day time production. Consequently, prolonged reduced exposure to light during seasonal changes can lead to a sleep disorder or 'winter blues'. This happens on account of increased production of melatonin. Insufficient production of melatonin can lead to insomnia.


Melatonin works as an antioxidant - it protects against cellular aging of the brain cells. It plays a vital role as a protector of the immune system. As melatonin production reduces over time, shortened sleep time is noticed in older persons. Melatonin is prescribed for those suffering from insomnia, stress and jet lag.


Side Effects of Melatonin: Reported side effects of Melatonin include sleepiness and headache. It has been seen that people on melatonin experience abdominal cramps, dizziness and irritability. Decreased sex drive in men and women is also noticed. Those who suffer from depression tend to experience worsening symptoms. Persons having liver disease or High Blood pressure may be at higher risk of experiencing melatonin side effects. The effects of melatonin when taken along with other medicines is yet to be verified. Melatonin is contraindicated for women who are pregnant or nursing. Women who are trying to conceive must avoid this hormone as it might have contraceptive properties. If you suffer from severe allergies or auto-immune diseases, melatonin might be contraindicated for you.


Dosage of Melatonin: Melatonin is usually taken as 1 - 6 mg tablets daily. Initially larger doses can be taken and subsequently the dosage can be reduced. Typically one capsule of 1 mg is taken at night ½ hour (h.s. hora somni)before bedtime. A dosage of 3 mg is sometimes resorted to for severe cases of insomnia.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 1, 2020