The hormone Melatonin is part of the circadian rhythm, a biorhythm our bodies are
built to follow. The circadian rhythm is our internal clock. Among other things, it tell us when it is time to
sleep and when it’s time to get up for the day. By producing Melatonin, our brain regulates this sleep clock. The
environmental cues to the brain to produce Melatonin are dark and light. As evening draws near, our brain begins to
increase Melatonin production, and as daylight approaches, that production decreases.
Sometimes this naturally occurring circadian rhythm is disrupted or doesn’t fit
our schedule, and the result is an inability to sleep when we need to or the need to sleep when we shouldn’t. This
is often caused by jet lag, illness, shift work, or even poor vision. Some studies show that as we age, our brain
produces lower amounts of Melatonin, which could be why many elderly people struggle to sleep through the
Many have found that the use of a Melatonin supplement can help restore this
cycle, or adapt it to their needs. I started taking Melatonin when I worked graveyard shifts and struggled to sleep
during the day. Even though I tried to trick my brain into thinking it was night by making my environment as dark
as possible, I eventually had to look for other means. Over the counter sleep remedies containing antihistamines
had opposite effects for me. I would be very drowsy, but my brain activity seemed to
Finally, a friend suggested I try Melatonin. It worked like a charm. I used the
sublingual form that came in 1 mg tablets. I would use 1 to start, placing it under my tongue as I went to bed.
Within 15-20 minutes, I was asleep. I noticed that I built up a resistance and had to increase my dosage, but I
learned to control this by not using it on my days off.
When my graveyard shift days were behind me, I continued to use Melatonin. I have
had bouts of insomnia for years, and found that Melatonin helped me through those periods. I also found that when I
did not use Melatonin, I craved it, so I encourage it be used with caution and only when
I know quite a few people who have used Melatonin, but not all had the positive
effects that I had. For some, it caused a fuzzy, hung-over feeling in the morning. For others it seemed to have no
effect at all. I believe the reactions individuals have can be controlled by the dosage. If you find yourself
feeling groggy in the morning, lower the dosage. If it’s not helping, increase the dosage. You may find that any
negative effects aren’t worth the benefits. I personally have never had any negative effects from its
It is available in the form of a tablet or capsule, a lozenge or sublingual pill,
and in liquid drops. Melatonin is considered an herbal supplement and is therefore not regulated by the FDA, but it
can be found in health food stores and the vitamin section of many pharmacies. Pharmacies generally only carry the
tablet or capsule form, and the liquid and lozenge varieties may be more difficult to find. Recommended dosages
vary by brand, but usually fall within the 1-5 mg per day range.