Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body. It controls the night and day cycles, also known as the sleep and wake cycles. Another name for this cycle is the circadian rhythm, which works like an internal clock. It tells the body when it’s time to sleep and wake up. Humans’ circadian “clock” is located in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) region. The SCN develops and maintains a regular sleep and waking cycle using light and dark daily patterns. Melatonin is present in various foods and is also available as a tablet or chewable supplement.
Studies show that melatonin affects the brain regions when a person is not doing something mentally or physically. The default mode network is the aggregate title for these locations (DMN). Therefore, melatonin promotes sleep by influencing DMN.
Our brains stimulate the release of melatonin, which makes us feel tired when it gets dark outside, and bedtime approaches. Melatonin levels rise in the middle of the night as we sleep. Its levels decline when the sun rises, alerting the body to wake up.
Melatonin has been found in various foods, from fungus to animals and plants, throughout the previous few decades. It appears to have a favourable influence on body composition and fat oxidation. Melatonin supplementation for a year may help reduce body fat, increase lean mass, and raise adiponectin levels (which improves fat burning).
Sources of Melatonin
Melatonin is popular for supplementing your body’s natural supply. It is harmless and doesn’t create addiction but can cause adverse effects like headaches, nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness. Supplements are not required. According to research, foods high in melatonin increase melatonin levels.
- Melatonin levels are much more significant in nuts and medical herbs.
- The levels are higher in eggs and fish than in meat, while coloured rice had higher melatonin levels.
- Grapes, cherries, and strawberries contain melatonin.
- Tomatoes and peppers are the most commonly investigated vegetables, and vegetables have the highest amounts of melatonin.
- Warm milk contains high melatonin, thus helping you to sleep.
- Nuts are a good source of antioxidants. Almonds and pistachios have the highest melatonin.
- This hormone is present in significant concentrations in legumes and seeds, including white and black mustard seeds.
Melatonin & Its Effects on Fat
Melatonin helps fight fat in two ways – it helps the body convert fat to energy and promotes mitochondria. The mitochondria activate the calorie-burning mechanism. Research recommends it as a weight-loss supplement when combined with increased physical activity and changes to your diet.
While melatonin has been demonstrated to provide various health benefits and is safe to use, consult your doctor before taking any new supplement.
Melatonin is effective in treating obesity in several trials. According to a new study, melatonin boosted the amount of brown adipose tissue (BAT) mass in diabetic rats. BAT is the “healthy” fat that your body uses rather than stores. The result was a decrease in visceral white fat in the abdominal region, which is the fat that can have the most significant impact on your health because it houses the majority of your organs. In addition, melatonin positively influenced thermogenic activity, mitochondrial mass, and function in the same study. Thermogenesis is when your body consumes calories to produce heat, and mitochondria are involved in the cell structures (organelles).
Doctors advise that any melatonin medication is in conjunction with a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Melatonin supplementation for a year may help reduce body fat, increase lean mass, and raise adiponectin levels (which improves fat burning).
Melatonin and Lean Body Mass
Muscle growth requires a balanced and protective internal environment. melatonin has a favourable effect on body weight and energy metabolism. In a study in Clinical Endocrinology, researchers suggested that melatonin could lower adipocyte mass while increasing lean muscle mass.
Melatonin may help protect and develop muscles by reducing exercise-induced oxidative damage. Challenging exercise disrupts normal body functions and results in oxidative stress. Muscle tiredness and injury, as well as a loss of energy, can result from this condition. It could be because melatonin has antioxidant qualities that could help to minimise oxidative damage caused by exercise.
Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin pills are available over-the-counter (OTC). But you should always consult your doctor before taking one. While there may be some advantages, more research is needed to offer more significant benefits and proper dosage evidence.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone with extremely modest adverse effects. As a result, researchers have looked at using it as a natural supplement for a variety of medical ailments, including:
Sleep disorder means difficulty falling asleep regularly (also known as delayed sleep phase syndrome). In young adults and children with this problem, taking melatonin by mouth can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
Melatonin helps in alleviating inevitable headaches. It may be especially beneficial for migraine, and cluster headaches, prove research. However, experts are unsure which formula and dose might be most effective for headache sufferers.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant found to help the immune system. In addition, melatonin’s antioxidant qualities have been established in studies to help protect our bodies from free radicals (reactive molecules that can hurt the body) and cell damage.
Other Benefits of Melatonin
- Decrease the risk of heart attack
- Gastrointestinal health improvement
- Immune system boost
- Depression caused by a lack of sleep is alleviated.
- Eliminate free radicals
- Management of sleep disorders
- Skin ageing prevention
- Brain health
Possible Side Effects of Melatonin
Research shows there are few negative impacts of melatonin. If there are any adverse effects, they are usually minor, such as:
- These adverse effects and bedwetting and irritability may occur in children who take melatonin supplements.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should see their doctor before using melatonin because it can harm a foetus or newborn.
How Safe is Melatonin?
Melatonin looks to be a safe option for treating sleep problems in the short term. However, its long-term viability is debatable. The safety of melatonin depends on the age and health of the individual. It’s possible that your body already produces enough melatonin to keep you fit. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, melatonin may help people with sleep problems such as insomnia, jet lag or shift work.
Physiological levels of melatonin (1 to 5 mg) have been helpful for certain types of insomnia and jet lag. Still, the efficacy and safety of greater dosages are yet unknown. Your body may already produce enough melatonin to keep you in good shape. Higher melatonin doses can cause our body’s melatonin levels to rise even during the day, disrupting our typical day/night circadian rhythm.
Short-term use of melatonin is considered safe, but additional research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of long-term use.
According to several studies, melatonin appears to increase depressive symptoms in some people.
Drug interactions will cause your prescriptions to act unusually or place you in danger of harmful aspect effects. For example, blood thinners (such as warfarin and heparin), blood pressure medications, caffeine-containing products (such as coffee, tea, and some sodas), drugs that affect your immune system, and fluvoxamine are all examples of products that may interact with this drug.
According to researchers, melatonin’s long-term safety, particularly in children and teenagers, is yet unknown. Likewise, at this time, the supplement’s safety in pregnant women and their unborn children is unknown.
The risk factors include:
- Dizziness, headache, and nausea.
- Low blood pressure.
- Daytime sleepiness, making driving and operating machinery unsafe.
- Interactions with blood thinners, epilepsy treatments, birth control pills, diabetes medicines, and other drugs.
Because researchers have yet to determine the best beneficial melatonin dosages, no clear standards exist. The correct dosage depends on the person’s age and the reason for taking melatonin.
According to a study, the typical dose ranges from 1–to 5 milligrams (mg) in adults depending on the use. However, amounts can vary from 0.5 to 10 mg. A low dose may work better in some circumstances than a hefty dose. A tiny amount of roughly 0.3 mg is comparable to the quantity produced naturally by the body. Melatonin levels in the blood rise dramatically with more significant amounts. To begin with, give the smallest dose to children. A youngster will usually respond to 0.5–1 mg taken 1–2 hours before bedtime.
The Bottom Line
Melatonin has a variety of roles in the human body, the majority of which we don’t fully comprehend. It is especially beneficial for sleep disorders, such as jet and anxiety. In addition, melatonin may assist some people in losing weight, gaining muscle, and improving their general health in other ways.
While some of the findings are encouraging, further human studies are needed to assess melatonin administration’s health benefits (and potential hazards). Aside from weight reduction, melatonin regulates insulin sensitivity and functions as an anti-inflammatory. As a result, those with diabetes and high cholesterol may benefit significantly from this.
Even while the FDA monitors dietary supplements like melatonin, keep in mind that the rules for nutritional supplements are different and less stringent than those for prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. If you have medical conditions or plan to undergo surgery, several dietary supplements may interfere with medications or pose a risk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What does melatonin do to your body?
A. Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It aids sleep and the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock). Light at night can disrupt melatonin production by being exposed to light late. According to research, melatonin appears to have other functions in the body besides sleep.
Q. Is taking melatonin safe?
A. Melatonin is safe to take for a limited time. Unlike many other sleep drugs, melatonin is unlikely to cause dependence, a decreased reaction after repeated use (habituation), or a hangover effect.
Q. Does melatonin make you sleep immediately?
A. Within 30 minutes, melatonin begins to have an effect. After that, you should start to feel calm and sleepy. Melatonin is a sleep aid that works with your body’s natural sleep cycle. It aids in falling asleep more quickly and minimises the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night.
Q. Is melatonin a sleeping pill?
A. Melatonin pills help people sleep. They aid in falling asleep, improving sleep quality, and extending sleep time. However, they don’t seem as effective as many other sleep aids. Therefore, you should only take melatonin under a physician’s supervision like any other sleeping aid.
Q. Is it okay to take melatonin every day?
A. Taking the appropriate dose of melatonin can result in a 20-fold increase in blood melatonin levels and adverse effects such as excessive tiredness. Headache. Dizziness.
Q. Is melatonin suitable for covid?
A. According to some studies, melatonin also inhibits the programmed cell death that coronaviruses cause, which can cause considerable lung damage. In addition, coronavirus induces inflammation in the lungs, necessitating inflammasomes’ involvement. Melatonin inhibits these inflammasomes’ activity: anxiety and sleep deprivation lower overall immunity. However, the current research on the effects of Melatonin on COVID-19 is still in its beginning stage. A few randomised controlled trials (studies assessing melatonin in people) are ongoing. Therefore, at this time, it is too early to say whether melatonin is beneficial for COVID-19.
Q. Who should not take melatonin?
A. Melatonin may increase bleeding in persons with bleeding problems. Therefore people with depression may enhance their symptoms. Similarly, melatonin can cause blood pressure to rise in persons using blood pressure medicines for high blood pressure. Consequently, it’s best not to use it.
Q. What foods contain melatonin?
A. Although most food databases do not specify the amount of melatonin in foods, available research suggests that the following six foods are good sources of melatonin:
- Goji Berries
Q. How long will I sleep if I take 5 mg of melatonin?
A. Adults receive an average dose of 0.1–10 milligrams (mg). Melatonin has a 1–2 hour half-life, depending on the formulation. Half-life refers to how long it takes the body to metabolise half of a drug dose. According to some studies, the body takes about 4–5 half-lives to remove medication. OTC melatonin lasts for 4-10 hours, depending on the dosage and formulation.
Q. How long does it take for melatonin to work?
A. As a rough estimate, melatonin in pill form may start working within 30 minutes. However, it may take at least 20 minutes or two hours.
Q. What is the best time to take melatonin?
A. One should take Melatonin 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin begins typically to work after 30 minutes when blood levels rise. Melatonin hormone regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Thus, take it at the appropriate time of day. From sunset until sunrise, your brain produces melatonin naturally. It takes roughly 30 minutes for these pills to reach their peak blood levels.
Q. Does melatonin make you gain weight?
A. Melatonin has no connection to weight gain. Instead, low melatonin levels increase appetite, leading to weight gain. The study found that melatonin supplementation helps control weight gain because melatonin produces such fat in the body that burns calories.