Melatonin - AYO

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Circadian Health Glossary

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the brain in response to darkness. It is intrinsically responsible for regulating our body clock, often referred to as our circadian rhythm. Production of this hormone increases in response to darkness, and decreases with exposure to light, indicating that it's time to wake up. It thereby helps the body clock to synchronize with the 24-h day.

What Are the Health Benefits of Taking Melatonin?

Melatonin has been associated with several other health benefits. It is used to treat insomnia, mitigate jet lag, manage shift work sleep disorders, and treat conditions like delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS).

We clearly do not advise the use of melatonin in children. Melatonin may also be used by older adults for insomnia and as a preventive measure for migraines. Researches have shown potential benefits in anxiety, depression, immune system support, and as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

Safety and Side Effects of Melatonin

An assessment of the safety of melatonin supplements indicated that only mild side effects were reported. These side effects were observed in various short-term studies involving adults, surgical patients, and critically ill patients. Some of the mild side effects reported included:

• Headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Sleepiness

Even though melatonin is often considered safe, it’s best to use it with a doctor’s advice. This helps to account for differences between people and possible interactions with other medicines.

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