Sleep Aid Melatonin

R299.00 R225.00

Melatonin plays a critical role in regulating our biological clock. It is normally produced in a part of the brain called the pineal gland and is released during the period of darkness from sundown to sunrise. Melatonin is frequently taken to alleviate difficulty falling or staying asleep, characteristic symptoms of insomnia and there is a strong body of evidence supporting its use as a sleep aid.

What is Melatonin?

First up, what exactly is melatonin? Melatonin is a natural hormone your brain makes to help you feel sleepy and wind down. As long as it’s dim enough, the pineal gland in your brain will start producing melatonin about two hours before your biological bedtime. This moment is called the dim light melatonin onset, or DLMO. Melatonin lowers your body temperature, blood pressure, stress hormones, and your alertness levels, helping you fall asleep.  But melatonin can also be made in the lab.  This synthetic melatonin can trick your brain into thinking it’s sunset, making you wind down for sleep when you wouldn’t normally be doing so. However, it doesn’t force you to sleep like over-the-counter sleep aids do, you may not even feel the effects for hours.  

When Should You Take Melatonin to Shift Your Circadian Rhythm?

Melatonin is a chronobiotic, something that can change the timing of your circadian rhythm, or your body clock. Depending on when you take it, and how much you take, melatonin can either bring forward or push back the timing of your circadian rhythm, making it easier to go to sleep earlier or later than usual.

Moving Your Sleep Schedule 

There are times in life when you may want to reset your sleep schedule. Perhaps bad sleep hygiene (more on that soon) means you’ve been staying up, and therefore waking up, later and later or your night owl chronotype simply means you prefer to keep a sleep schedule that’s on the later side. 

Either way, melatonin can help you move the timing of your circadian rhythm earlier, helping you fall asleep at an earlier time and shift your schedule forward. 

Take melatonin a few hours before bedtime to give it enough time to work. Four to eight hours before your DLMO will make you feel sleepy earlier than usual. 

This means melatonin is effective when: 

  1. Battling jet lag 
  2. Moving your sleep schedule — say, if you’re a night owl trying to become a morning person
  3. Adjusting to shift work

In all of these cases, you can take melatonin short term to help move your circadian rhythm and get the sleep you need. 

Experts recommend taking melatonin about four to five hours before your normal bedtime to bring your circadian rhythm forward, and taking it around your usual wake up time to push it back. 

If you do decide to take melatonin to fall asleep, and don’t want to move your circadian rhythm, you still need to take it a few hours before your biological bedtime. It’s tricky to get the timing right as melatonin affects us all differently.

If you decide to take melatonin to fall asleep, pair it with good sleep hygiene to make sure it’s effective — you don’t want a late-afternoon coffee or brightly lit bedroom canceling out the supplements after all.

Heads-up: Your natural levels of melatonin decline as you age, so supplements can help older adults get better sleep. Studies show melatonin can increase sleep duration and reduce nighttime awakenings in older adults (>55 years old) especially.

When Shouldn’t You Take Melatonin?

There are limited long-term studies into the safety of melatonin, so we don’t recommend relying on it night after night to fall asleep. It does appear safe for short-term use, however. But, there are a few groups of people who should be careful. People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking medications like epilepsy drugs, blood thinners, immunosuppressants, or oral contraceptives, or have health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure should speak to a health care provider before taking melatonin.  Those suffering with insomnia or other sleep disorders should also seek medical advice before trying melatonin as a treatment option.

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R299.00 R225.00