Melatonin is a hormone and an integral part of the sleep-wake cycle. Made by the pineal gland, melatonin production is controlled by the body's internal clock and is affected by light. In the mid- to late evening when it is dark, melatonin levels rise and in the morning when the sun rises, they drop. The rise in melatonin causes people to become less alert, in effect, preparing you for sleep. Melatonin is also contained naturally in certain foods including oats, rice, sweet corn, ginger, barley, tomatoes, bananas, almonds and many seeds.
Melatonin Sleep Aids
While melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, there are products that provide a supplemental source of natural and synthetic melatonin. People who have trouble falling asleep, have delayed sleep phase syndrome(DSPS), or who are traveling across multiple time zones and wish to minimize the effects of jet lag may want to consider using a melatonin sleep supplement. These non-prescription melatonin sleep aids are designed to help regulate the body's internal clock and induce sleep.
It is recommended that if given a choice between a natural or synthetic melatonin supplement that you choose a synthetic version of melatonin. Natural melatonin supplements are derived from animal pineal tissue and carry the risk of transmitting viral material. Melatonin sleep aids are available in tablets and liquid form.
All melatonin supplements should be taken only as recommended. People under 20 years old or who have an immune system disorder, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, history of stroke or depression should consult with their doctor before taking melatonin for sleep.
Melatonin Herbal Alternatives
As an alternative to taking melatonin for sleep, there are many herbal supplements on the market that can help you fall asleep and fight jet lag symptoms. One such alternative is RelaxZen, a liquid "sleep shot" that contains a blend of natural herbs, vitamins and amino acids that promote restful sleep and relaxation while balancing mood and reducing stress and fatigue.
Disclaimer: Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease.