Melatonin is a complex substance with complex, indirect effects. It is therefore very important to know how to use melatonin and not merely to take the pills and hope for the best! This article focuses on some of they key common questions about how melatonin works, what is the circadian rhythm (day/night cycles) when we should take it, how much we need and what are the alternatives.
FAQ 1: Do I Need to Take Melatonin Indefinitely?
Medical practitioners in general do not recommend taking Melatonin for more than fourteen days continuously. Melatonin merely reinforces the signals the body receives telling it that it’s ‘time to sleep’. If you take it continuously, then you may be masking a deeper problem that should be discussed with your doctor.
FAQ2: Can Melatonin Harm Me?
Taking too much Melatonin and taking it at the wrong time of the day can cause serious health risks. For instance, taking melatonin during the day has been known to cause depression. Daytime melatonin has been shown to cause depression. The reasons for this are complex, but essentially they are rooted in the body’s need not to receive conflicting signals.
In the day, you are active and busy and yet a dose or melatonin will tell your body to sleep, which is in conflict with your daytime needs. Depression is sometimes the outcome of this conflict.
FAQ3: Is Melatonin a Sleep Hormone?
This is a tricky question, because melatonin is intimately bound up with our body’s interpretation the sleep signals it receives. But melatonin by itself will not make you sleep – it merely forewarns your body that ‘night-time’ is imminent and that it should prepare to wind down and sleep.
This is why it is so effective when taken in the evening – the melatonin has prepared your body for natural sleep. It’s much the same effect with jet lag – the melatonin effectively shifts your body to an earlier or later time by signalling ‘time to sleep’.
FAQ4: Can I Take Melatonin At Any Time?
No! If melatonin is used during the day, it may cause bad side-effects because your body then receives conflicting signals from the melatonin and from the natural environment. This can even cause a disruption of your natural sleep cycle and make things worse for you if you are suffering from insomnia.
FAQ5: How Do I Know Melatonin is For Me?
Most sleep deprivation problems do not arise from melatonin deficiency, and so increasing the amount in your body may mask the root cause of your problem. However, the sleep melatonin gives you may also break a vicious cycle of sleepless nights and daytime exhaustion and restore your normal sleep patterns – just don’t keep taking it for weeks and weeks!
If you do really need melatonin to help you sleep, you may be experiencing a disruption of your Circadian Rhythm, which can make your body produce melatonin at the wrong time of day (production varies through he day and normally peaks at night), so that when you need to sleep, you don’t have enough melatonin in your system at the time you need to sleep. This may mean that you need light therapy, on which subject I will be writing another article.
FAQ6: How Critical is Melatonin Dosage?
In general, the supplement pills available on the market (including Meratrol, which we advertise here), average three to five milligrams per pill. Recent research has shown statistically that we can get by with much less than this. So a good idea is that if melatonin works for you, start cutting the pills in half and then a quarter to see if they still work.
You cannot do this with TIME – RELEASE – MELATONIN – as the time release mechanism will be disabled.
FAQ7: How Important is the Body’s Natural Melatonin?
It’s CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. As several articles on this site reveal, melatonin is a powerful anti-oxidant that neutralizes damaging free radicals in your body. It reduces the risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Melatonin is one of nature’s wonder-drugs!
That’s why, when we do night shifts and fly across the world, reducing the body’s production of melatonin at critical times, we significantly increase the risks of some types of cancer. Sustained behaviour and lifestyles of this type can cause significant health risks. So yes – melatonin is important – very, very important to our wellbeing.
FAQ8: How Long Does Melatonin Remain Active in My Body?
Melatonin, in the prescribed doses, is active in your body for approximately fifteen to twenty five minutes. So it is important to take the right dose at the right time!
How To Use Melatonin
- If you take more than an hour to fall asleep, you might consider time-released melatonin.
- Depending on the severity of your insomnia, you might try time-released melatonin one to three hours before the time at which you want to fall asleep. If this is still not adequate, you might try taking another pill three or four hours after the first one.
- Remember – sleep in the DARK – light prevents your body producing melatonin and you do not need this, even if you are taking a supplement.
If you are waking up in the night, consider taking sublingual melatonin (a pill that dissolves under the tongue). This pill is designed in such a way that the melatonin is released straight into the blood stream and not through your digestive system.