Melatonin is a natural hormone that is made by the pineal gland. The pineal gland is approximately the size of a pea and is located in the center of the brain. It helps regulate sleep cycles on a 24-hour basis, telling us when we are tired and need to go to sleep.
Melatonin is stimulated by darkness but is suppressed by light. This is why we tend to want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. This natural hormone controls the circadian rhythm in the body, making us feel tired and letting us know when it is time for sleep. Melatonin can easily be disrupted when there is a change in our schedule. Changing shifts at work can disrupt normal melatonin cycles as well as jet lag.
The timing and release of female reproductive hormones are controlled by melatonin cycles. It determines when a woman's menstrual cycle begins and ends. Melatonin has also been related to the aging process in humans. The melatonin levels in our bodies are higher when we are younger and diminish over time as we age, causing disrupted sleep patterns in adults. This natural hormone also helps strengthen the immune system.
Supplements for melatonin are readily available for people who would like to get back to a normal sleeping pattern the natural way. Studies have indicated there is a low chance of toxicity with taking melatonin supplements. The effect of taking these supplements can sometimes take a couple of weeks when taking on a daily basis and vary from person to person. Melatonin can help stimulate cells that encourage bone growth and can help women who are going through menopause sleep regularly.
Certain studies have proven that melatonin can help alleviate depression and anxiety. It effects the serotonin levels in the body, making it stronger and lowering the effects of mild depression and sadness. Further studies have shown that people with heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and rheumatoid arthritis tend to have lower levels of melatonin in their body. Melatonin helps protect against sunburn, epileptic seizures, and can treat sarcoidosis, a condition where fibrous tissues develop in the lungs.
Melatonin supplements are available in many forms. They can be purchased as capsules, tables, creams and lozenges. The recommended dose varies from person to person on a case by case basis and should be discussed with your physician before adding this supplement to your daily regimen.