The hormone melatonin secreted by the pineal gland is known to regulate the circadian rhythm of the human body, which is the inner body clock controlling the sleep-wake cycle. It is this circadian rhythm that ascertains the schedule of our sleep and waking up. This rhythm is maintained with the assistance of melatonin that aids in inducing sleep.
The secretion of melatonin is correlated with the condition of light. The human body produces larger proportions of the hormone in dark light conditions, which signifies that there is a higher level of melatonin in the human body during night time in comparison to day time. The sleep process is further facilitated by decrease in blood pressure and body temperature. For this very reason, melatonin is often termed as the hibernation hormone.
However, in circumstances of jet lag and shift work, the melatonin cycle is hampered resulting in temperamental changes and drowsiness during day time. Melatonin is also related to the production of female reproductions hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. This makes it a decisive factor in ascertaining the various parameters of menstruation such as its onset timing, regularity and duration. Even the time of menopause is regulated by this hormone.
Studies further highlight an association between melatonin and the process of ageing. Medical investigations reveal the presence of a higher level of the hormone in children than older people; which explains the sleep disorders experienced during old age. The hormone is also known to have antioxidant properties that are believed to have a positive impact on the immunity of the body and also prevent the development of cancer.
Owing to its association with sleep, doctors utilize this hormone as a mode of treatment in patients suffering from sleep disorders. However, it is prescribed for only two weeks in one go. An over dosage or long tern use of the hormone can result in aggravating the problem. In cases of insomnia, a dosage of 1 to 5 milligrams prior to bedtime is suggested; while for purposes of jet lag, one requires to take a 2.5 to 5 milligrams dose on the specific day of the journey, followed by 2.5 to 5 milligrams prior to bedtime for 3 to 4 consecutive nights after reaching the place of destination. Shift workers are suggested an intake of 2.5 to 5 milligrams at the time they go to sleep, which in their case could be morning hours. The procedure of administration involves placing the tablet under the tongue, which facilitates its dissolution.
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