Melatonin: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning

Melatonin (sleeping hormone) is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps to control our daily sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels changes in 24 hours and its production are reduced in bright light and increases at night. That’s why it is often called “the hormone of darkness”. You can also take it in pills.

Environmental influences:

Natural light is not the only factor that affects melatonin levels. Certain foods such as strawberries, walnuts, tomatoes, rice, olive, barley, cow’s milk, and cherries also influence the melatonin levels.

What does Melatonin do?

Melatonin plays a vital role in regulating the internal body’s clock cycle of sleep and wakefulness. In the early evening and late afternoon hormones are released that make the body prepare for sleep. In regards to sleep, the blood melatonin levels start to rise 2 hours before sleep.  While during the early hours of the morning, the body starts to prepare for waking. Even when a human body is kept distant from external light sources, the body retains a natural rhythm of 24 hours and 11 minutes.

Melatonin supplements:

Melatonin supplements can be available at food stores and drugstores. These supplements are available in pills, chewable, and liquid

Sleep Aid:

The sleep hormone melatonin is a common natural remedy to treat problems like insomnia. Melatonin in children and adults help to increase the total sleep time, reduce the time it took to fall asleep and also enhance the quality of sleep. It is best to take a melatonin supplement 30-60 minutes before bedtime for insomnia.

Three main functions:

The main three functions of melatonin are;

Circadian rhythm:

Melatonin helps in normalizing circadian rhythm by preparing the body for sleep. This hormone actually prepares the body for sleep and not makes you fall asleep.


Melatonin not only affects the body’s clock melatonin but also work as an antioxidant. It supports health by helping different aspects of the brain, gastrointestinal health, and cardiovascular.

Boost the immune system:

Melatonin can boost the immune system in various ways. According to a study, it is a potential tool against inflammation, bacterial diseases, Type 1 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.

Other uses:

Besides sleep disorders, scientists are studying other conditions where melatonin may help. The conditions are;


According to small evidence, the melatonin can relieve some headaches, especially the cluster headaches (severe and frequent pain on one side of the head).


Some clinical studies indicate that melatonin may work as an anticancer agent together with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Alzheimer’s disease:

Melatonin levels decrease with age but this decline is more evident in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Melatonin appears to slow the cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Gallbladder stones:

Melatonin’s antioxidant properties may help to prevent gallstones development.

Protection from radioactivity:

Most of the damage due to contact with radioactive substances is caused by free radicals. In this regard, melatonin may help for people who work in the high-radiation area and for patients undergoing radiation therapy.


Melatonin daily doses of 0.5-10 mg appear effective. However, it is best to stick to the recommended dosage because all supplements are not the same. In order to improve the sleep quality and maximum effectiveness try to take it 30 minutes before bedtime.


Besides its effectiveness, melatonin supplements can interact with various medicines including;

  • Diabetes medicines
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Birth control pills

Ask your doctor if you want to take any supplement, especially if you a health condition or taking any medicine.

Side effects:

The common melatonin side effects include;

  • Heavy head feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression

Melatonin has many useful works within the human body. It appears that melatonin might be helpful in treating some diseases and in time its full potential will become clear.

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