Sleep is crucial if you want your body and brain to perform at their peak.
Several studies show that if you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to gain more weight.
You’re also more likely to have poor memory recall and lower testosterone levels. But that’s not all.
Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of diabetes and stroke.
There are many ways to fall asleep the natural way. But it doesn’t seem to work for some of us all the time.
In some instances, not only is it difficult to fall asleep but also we are not able to stay asleep longer. And that affects our sleep quality.
To help with chronic sleep deprivation, people resort to taking sleeping pills and aids.
One of the most common pills is Melatonin.
Why is Melatonin so common? Does Melatonin help you fall asleep? We’ll explore those questions and more in the rest of this article so read on.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by a small gland in the brain called, pineal gland.
As a hormone, melatonin enables us to respond to darkness and maintain our sleep and wake cycles.
Your body has an internal clock that enables you to fall asleep and wake. It’s called the circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm plays a crucial role if you want to fall asleep on time. Melatonin improves the timing of this twenty-four-hour internal clock
We get melatonin from the food we eat. Like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. But these sources might to be enough if you have chronic sleep deprivation.
In that case, the supplement form of melatonin can help. You can buy it in the drugstore.
In most cases, melatonin dietary supplements are synthetic. But few contain animals or microorganisms’ contents.
What are the health benefits of melatonin?
1. Increases the feeling of sleepiness
Have you ever laid in bed, ready to sleep, but you just do not feel sleepy? Well, melatonin might very well help induce that feeling.
A study in the Journal of Sleep Research examined the impact of melatonin on daytime sleep after a simulated shift at night.
Participants included 21 healthy adults. They took 1.8 mg of melatonin sustained-release tablet and a placebo about 30 mins before sleeping during the day.
The study showed that melatonin helped participants feel sleepier at bedtime. It also prevented sleep from occurring at the wrong time.
Taking melatonin may help your sleep align with your body’s internal clock.
2. Reduces jet lag
One of the most researched benefits of melatonin is in the area of reducing jetlag.
Jet lag is when you feel significant tiredness and physical fatigue after traveling across timezones. The more timezones you cross, the more tired you are.
Taking melatonin is a good way to get rid of this extreme tiredness, and it’s associated wakefulness.
In one study, researchers in New Zealand observed 20 volunteers. These volunteers traveled across at least 5 timezones with transcontinental flights.
Some participants took 5 mg melatonin capsule or a placebo. They took it once a day on pre-flight days 1-3 (between 1000 h and 1200 h), during flight, and once a day for post-flight days 1-3 (between 2200-2400 h)
Participants who took melatonin reported that they were less tired during the day.
Also, melatonin enabled them to adapt more quickly to a normal sleeping pattern. And it helped them regain their usual energy levels.
Researchers in France also found that melatonin had a positive effect on reducing jet lag.
They observed 37 participants who travel intercontinental flights. These participants usually experience discomfort after an eastward journey. Melatonin had a huge impact.
3. Helps you sleep for longer hours
One of the health benefits of melatonin is increased sleep time. Here’s why.
Sleep quality is not just about how fast you can fall asleep. It’s also about how long you can stay asleep.
A study published in the medical journal BMC Medicine looked into primary insomnia.
Researchers observed 791 participants between ages 18 and 80 years. For 6 months, participants used prolonged-release melatonin.
The findings suggest melatonin increased sleep time in a significant way.
Another study found that melatonin improved sleep time. It also increased sleep efficiency in healthy middle-aged people.
4. Enables you to fall asleep faster
One of the health benefits of melatonin is that it can help you fall asleep faster.
This is also known as sleep onset latency. And it refers to the amount of time it takes to move from being fully awake to being asleep.
After all, when we go to bed, we just don’t instantly fall into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.
Our sleep moves in cycles, progressing from one phase to another, and then to another.
Research in the Journal of Circadian Rhythms examined the impact of melatonin. Nearly 120 health non-smoking females took 5 mg of melatonin tablets.
The findings suggest melatonin significantly decreased sleep onset latency. And it also improved sleep quality.
5. Increases sleep quality
The findings showed that by taking 1 mg or 5 mg of melatonin pill 15 mins before bedtime, participants saw an improvement in overall sleep quality.
Other studies have found melatonin evidence to support this.
This includes researchers from The E. Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. They reported in a study that melatonin immensely improved sleep quality
6. Reduces daytime sleepiness
If you’re always sleepy during the day, it’s likely your internal body clock is out of sync.
To align your circadian rhythm to the natural body timing, melatonin can help.
Bjorvatn and his colleagues from the University of Bergen in Norway investigated this on an oil rig.
The study involved 17 participants with two weeks of work shift – in week one they had a night and in week two, a day shift.
The finding showed that melatonin reduced sleepiness at work during the dayshift week.