Melatonin is classified as a “dietary supplement” by the FDA, even though most of us look at melatonin as drug product.

Our body makes melatonin and is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain to regulate sleep-wake cycles or circadian rhythms. Melatonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. Melatonin secretion begins around the third or fourth month of life, peaks in pediatric years, and lessens as we age. A 70-year-old has about ¼ of the melatonin secretion as young adults do. Supplementation of melatonin seems to be a reasonable option for sleep induction.

  • USE: May be useful may help to regulate sleep disturbances that occur with insomnia, jet lag, rotating shiftwork, depression, chronic kidney disease.
  • Jet lag: Melatonin can improve some symptoms of jet lag, such as alertness and psychomotor performance, may also be useful for daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

Might not be effective for helping you fall asleep quicker..

  • DOSE: 0.3—1 mg produces normal melatonin levels in the circulation; Suggest higher doses of (2—6 mg) which are needed to obtain beneficial effects. Maximum: 10 mg/day.
  • Doses over 10mg may produce excess concentrations of melatonin which can produce numerous biological effects. Daytime sleepiness, impaired mental and physical performance, hypothermia, and hyperprolactinemia can be caused by excessive melatonin doses. These effects are not observed with normal concentrations of melatonin.

Melatonin warnings:

  • Asthma: melatonin may play role in the expression of asthma symptoms- patients should seek advice before starting this therapy.
  • Drowsiness precautions, driving, dangerous tasks that require alertness.
  • Avoid during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Use of laptops, tablets, smartphones before bedtime can have a negative impact on melatonin secretion, circadian rhythms, and sleep. Any device with a “gray screen” all which are low light emitting and dilates the pupils can cause this effect. One study compared the effects of reading an “e-book” versus a printed book for four hours prior to bedtime for five consecutive nights. The e-book readers had suppressed melatonin concentrations in the early part of the night, felt less sleepy before bed, took longer to fall asleep, and reported feeling sleepier the following morning, than the “paper book” readers.