Understanding the effects and use of melatonin
Melatonin appears to have some use against insomnia, jet lag, and other sleep wake cycle irregularities. It has been studied for the treatment of many different diseases and problems. It appears that the body’s clock is influenced by the secretion of an amino-acid derivative hormone, Melatonin. This is made by the pineal gland in response to the lack of light. Stated simply, when it is dark, the pineal gland makes Melatonin, and the rest of the body responds to the Melatonin, saying, ‘ah – Melatonin - time to sleep.’ Results of studies related to sleep and alertness are inconclusive. However, some positive effects in assiting people to return to their preferreed sleep wake cycle have been noted.
Melatonin production in the body is influenced by light. The more light, the less melatonin and vice versa.
Melatonin can be used to increase the propensity for sleep.
Some people take a supplementary dose of Melatonin before going to bed.
Melatonin is freely available in the US without prescription, due to it being a natural substance.
It is recommended for adults to take between 2mg and 5mg in the evening as a jet lag remedy (vary your dosage between these limits depending on your weight – the lighter you are, the less you need, the heavier you are, the more you should take).
Note that Melatonin does not eliminate jet lag, it merely reduces it and speeds up the rate at which your body adjusts to the new time zone. Studies have suggested that Melatonin doubles the speed at which your body adjusts to the new time zone.
The Centers for Disease Control discuss Melatonin on there web stite and state:
Since it is not under FDA regulation, rigorous studies of safety or standardization of doses are not available. However, melatonin seems to be safe and well tolerated, and doses of 0.5-5 mg promoted sleep and decreased jet lag in travelers crossing five or more time zones. Five-mg doses promoted more rapid sleep than lower doses; doses >5 mg had no additional benefit. Slow-release forms were not effective. Melatonin should be taken at the target bedtime, beginning 3-4 days before departure if possible. (CDC)
Melatonin is controversial. If you are taking other medicines, it might be prudent to check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure there are no interactions between Melatonin and the other drugs.