Can The Natural Hormone Melatonin Help For Insomnia?
Melatonin for insomnia is a relatively new line of treatment but one which is proving to have much success. As we learn more about the biological causes of insomnia, the medical community is discovering new ways to treat the condition, freeing sufferers from the need to take traditional over-the-counter or prescription sleeping.
Insomnia, or the inability to get a proper amount of sleep, can be caused by many factors. One of these is a lack of the hormone melatonin. In most healthy people, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a small gland at the center of the brain. Since melatonin helps to regulate sleep cycles, when there is a lack of melatonin, insomnia is likely to occur.
Melatonin production is triggered by light, or rather the lack of light. It is what causes us to become sleepy when the sun goes down and when we open our eyes and see sunlight, melatonin production slows. In this way, melatonin helps to regulate what are called circadian rhythm cycles. It is these natural cycles that can be disrupted when we travel through different time zones, resulting in jet lag. For this reason, the use of melatonin for insomnia among travelers is particularly effective.
There has also been a great deal of success in treating the elderly with melatonin. This is because there is a direct biological link between melatonin production and age. We are born with a healthy level of melatonin, which is why babies usually sleep so well, but as we age our level of melatonin gradually decreases as the pineal gland becomes hardened. Because they lack enough melatonin insomnia is a frequent problem among the elderly.
Though melatonin seems to work well in treating insomnia in the elderly, it will not necessarily work well for all cases of insomnia. If you have normal or high levels of melatonin, then taking melatonin for insomnia will have little effect. Melatonin has only been shown to have a sedative effect among those who have low natural levels. Since it is not a narcotic, like traditional sleeping pills, it will not simply lull you to sleep unless you have a specific biological need for melatonin in your system.
The one big advantage to melatonin insomnia sufferers have found is that, unlike sedatives, it doesn’t suppress REM sleep, which is the deepest level of sleep and the one that results in our waking feeling thoroughly rested.
Because it doesn’t affect REM sleep, melatonin is much easier to tolerate and it can work to recalibrate or balance out disrupted sleep cycles, which is what makes it desirable for travelers dealing with jet lag.
When we cross several time zones, our biological clocks can get thrown off kilter, affecting our body’s natural inclination to shut down and wake up at particular times. This disruption can result in lack of energy, inability to function properly and even an inability to fall asleep properly. Using melatonin for insomnia caused by jet lag can help to reset your natural sleep cycle and restore healthy sleep habits.
Insomnia is never a pleasant issue to deal with. It can leave you feeling irritable, exhausted, and unable to deal with your regular daily routine but that doesn’t mean you should jump at every solution which comes along.
Sleeping pills with their heavy sedative effects are not always the answer. Now melatonin offers another option. If you suffer from insomnia, a lack of melatonin may be the cause, so talk to your doctor today and find out if melatonin might be the answer to getting your sleep cycle back on track.
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