Melatonin, better known as a sleep hormone, is a substance produced by the brain as the day gets dark so that the body understands that it is time to sleep and begin to slow down. The melatonin peak occurs during sleep and its level is reduced in the early morning, signaling that it is time to wake up and return to action. With this function, melatonin supplementation is commonly used by those who have difficulty falling asleep. In Brazil, patients can buy formulations prepared by handling pharmacies, provided they have a prescription. But there are countries, such as the United States, where the hormone is even sold in supermarkets in a bullet shape and about 3 million people consume the substance frequently.
Is it worth taking?
Although the melatonin supplement is popular with patients, it is far from being unanimous among doctors. On the one hand, many professionals recommend improving patients' sleep quality. But on the other hand, doctors say that there is not enough scientific evidence about the use. “Clinical studies on the use of melatonin as a supplement are not definitive. In theory, the substance makes us sleep well, but we need to study and do tests to see how this ingested melatonin, which is not produced by our body, actually works in the body ”, says Fabio Porto, a behavioral neurologist at Hospital. One of the questions asked is when would be the right time to take the hormone. "Nobody can say for sure how long before bedtime it would be beneficial to ingest melatonin if that's how you lie down or two hours before.
In addition, the correct dose for each organism is not defined. “I don't believe that melatonin is an answer to any sleep disorder. The substance is not to be used forever or in any dosage. It is necessary to have a follow-up and carefully establish the dose and the time used since we do not know exactly how it acts ”, says Magali Lumertz, a pediatric pulmonologist, and specialist in sleep medicine
at Hospital. Both factors are extremely important since the wrong doses and times of melatonin can interfere with the circadian cycle and, instead of improving sleep, deregulate it further. To be clear, the circadian cycle is the period of approximately 24 hours that our body relies on to organize functions such as digestion, temperature, wakefulness or sleep, and is influenced by the variation of light.
“When you take melatonin it induces a peak of the substance that is much greater than the physiological one. In theory, you can reset the biological clock. So you can, from one hour to the Melatonin: does it make sense to take the sleep "hormone" to sleep better? next, change your sleep and wake times, and doing this without monitoring is dangerous ”warns Porto.
Melatonin - The "sleep" hormone
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle - a daily pattern that determines when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up. This hormone can also influence mood, body temperature, reproduction, and the immune system, as well as having antioxidant properties.
It is produced in the brain and its secretion depends on light :
Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, signaling it to prepare for sleep, and normally melatonin levels start to rise at the end of the day, after sunset, and remain elevated during the longest part of the night, while it is in the dark;
The light decreases the production of melatonin and signals the body to prepare to stay awake. So, early in the morning, when the sun rises, melatonin levels drop, causing you to wake up, naturally. But beware! Its secretion depends not only on sunlight but also on artificial lighting that can be bright enough to prevent its release. So avoid watching TV or being at the computer, particularly in the hours before going to bed and if you need to be awake at night, use the light of low intensity and warm, orange or reddish color. Always remember that a good night's sleep is essential for the body and, often, the adoption of some habits may be sufficient to achieve adequate sleep. In addition, taking products with melatonin can help to reduce the time needed to fall asleep, which can be useful in some situations, such as difficulty falling asleep, relieving some symptoms resulting from jet lag and sleep cycle disorders. wakefulness, namely in sleep phase delay syndrome (SAFS) - a disorder in which the sleep-wake cycle is delayed by about 3 to 6 hours.
However, in order for melatonin to be effective, the dosage and timing should be respected and appropriate for the sleep problem in question. So if you have sleep problems and want to start taking a food supplement with melatonin, you should first consult your doctor or pharmacist. On the other hand, if sleep problems persist, they may be related to issues that are important to determine. In these cases, talk to your doctor about the possible causes of your sleep problem so that he can assess the best treatment strategy for your case.
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