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Jan 27

Melatonin…What it is, and is it Right for Me?

healthysleepEach individual’s body comes equipped with an internal clock that controls their natural sleep cycle, and hours of being awake. This particular clock also regulates the amount of melatonin the body produces.

Melatonin is a hormone made by a small gland found in the brain. This is known as the pineal gland, and is about the size of a pea. This hormone normally increases during the evening hours, then drops to a lower level by morning.

Many people suffer from a decrease in melatonin, making them more susceptible to conditions such as insomnia. This condition makes sleeping a very difficult challenge. Other causes of an abnormal sleep schedule can be blamed on working the night shift, or even depression and anxiety. Age can also be a factor, because the older a person becomes, the lower the melatonin levels are. These are just some examples of when a melatonin supplement may be recommended.

Melatonin can be beneficial because it assists individuals with returning to, and maintaining a normal sleep pattern. Melatonin has also been thought to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce the number of awakenings during sleep. This particular supplement is considered safe in most cases, because it is a hormone that the body already produces, rather than consuming another type of synthetic drug.

Like any supplement, however, there are potential side effects. Some may include:
• Lower body temperature
• Blood pressure changes
• Grogginess upon awakening
• Vivid dreams

The dosage for melatonin will vary, depending on each individual’s specific case, and the reason for its use. Most people find that taking 1 to 3 mg is successful, where others may need a higher dose to achieve the full benefit. The correct dosage and time of day it is taken is also important to its effectiveness.

Melatonin is the only available hormone without a prescription. However, a consultation with a health care professional is the best place to begin when considering any new medication or supplement. A professional will advise of the proper dosage, frequency, and help determine if melatonin is the most beneficial choice.

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