The secretion of melatonin by the pineal gland in the brain is connected to the sleep-wake cycle in human beings. With the fall of evening, the body starts releasing this hormone in greater quantities, thereby inducing sleep. As soon as the brain receives the signal of better light conditions, the release of melatonin is reduced; thereby arousing the individual. This signifies that melatonin in highly essential for falling asleep. Therefore, many physicians recommend the intake of melatonin supplements for rectifying sleep disorders.
This hormone is known to be naturally present in several food products such as oats, rice, barley, corn and many fruits and vegetables. As a result, its sale as a dietary supplement has been approved by the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) neither approves nor regulates the sale of such products.
Excessive intake of the hormone or its long term usage is believed to be harmful for one’s health and is known to generate several side effects. Apart from making the person sleepy that might be the reason for its administration, patients have often complained of headaches, giddiness, pain in the abdomen, vivid dreams, nightmares, sleep walking, reduction in sperm count, and decrease in sexual libido. There have been cases of patients experiencing day time sleep the following day after its intake as well. This results in a bewildered state of mind and lack of concentration, both of which can greatly interfere with one’s work routine and efficiency.
The question whether one should take melatonin or not is debatable. While the positive of taking the supplement is obtaining good sleep, the repercussions are many to the severity of experiencing seizures. The fundamental reason for the repercussions is that excessive melatonin in the body tends to disrupt the body’s natural rhythm. Those who are already on some medication should be cautious about its intake as the hormone could cause additional problems. In such cases, it would be safe to consult the doctor before taking the supplement. Similarly, individuals suffering from other medical conditions should also take the doctor’s approval before commencing the hormone’s usage. Women should strictly refrain from its intake during pregnancy and lactation as medical science is yet unsure about the repercussions of these supplements on the health of the fetus or newborn child. For the same reason, melatonin should not be administered to children. However, if you do not fall in any of the above categories and are facing problems with falling asleep, then you could experiment with melatonin but still remember to consult your physician as it is always better to be safe than sorry.
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