Ever wondered why one feels sleepy during the night and not the day? The answer is the magic of melatonin. It is a hormone that controls the body’s sleep and wake cycle. Darkness triggers the pineal gland in the brain producing the hormone in the bloodstream. Scientists believe that melatonin decreases as people age and it also controls the female reproductive hormones. However, there are some instances when the natural hormone fails to accomplish the above role.
Instances when individuals require a melatonin supplement
- Elderly people having trouble sleeping
- People with Insomnia and delayed sleep phase disorder
- Shift workers who have to change their sleeping schedules
- An individual under anesthesia during surgery
- Blind people or those with poor vision
What are the major pros of Melatonin?
It is effective in preventing and reducing jet lag as it regulates the body’s hormonal clock. This makes an individual more productive upon reaching their destination. The hormone has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects and hence boosts cardiovascular health. Melatonin reduces regular cluster headaches and can be used to combat tumor cells. It helps in the management of multiple sclerosis, bladder dysfunction and minimizes fibromyalgia and menopause symptoms. The hormone has had a great outcome for children with sleeping disorders due to conditions such as autism and ADHD. It is important to note that the melatonin supplements are not addictive.
The major cons of Melatonin
The use of the hormone in children is discouraged as it can impede the normal hormonal development and affect the menstrual cycle and puberty. In males, it can trigger overproduction of prolactin which may cause kidney and liver problems. Using the hormone for a long time upsets body’s natural sleep patterns. This can lead to dizziness, nausea, irritability, and headaches. Prolonged use may alter the patient’s reaction hence amplify insomnia. It may cause a decrease in sex drive and fertility.
When to avoid using melatonin
Individuals who have sleep difficulties due to stress or depression should avoid using the hormone as it may worsen the depression symptoms. Pregnant, breastfeeding mothers and those who want to be pregnant should avoid it. People with schizophrenia, diabetes and autoimmune issues should stay away from it.
More studies and research on melatonin are ongoing to help people better understand the benefits and disadvantages of the hormone. There are many individuals who advocate for the controlled availability of the supplements insisting they should be taken under professional supervision.