We’ve all had sleepless nights. We’ve all felt tired in the morning and unable to concentrate at school or work. In our busy lives, we could all sometimes use a sleep aid to make it easier to fall asleep. Melatonin has exploded in popularity as a potential sleep aid for many different situations, whether to help with occasional sleep problems or help prevent jet lag.
But what if we told you that melatonin does MORE than just improve your sleep quality? In this article, we’ll be going over 5 incredible melatonin benefits for your overall health and wellness.
But first, let’s go over:
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin for sleep is known as the “sleep hormone.”
It is synthesized by the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain. Although the pineal gland is usually inactive for most people during the daytime, it will actively start to produce and secrete melatonin for sleep during the nighttime, while in a dark environment.
From there, melatonin for sleep is gradually released into the bloodstream.
Numerous studies have shown that melatonin has a great number of sleep benefits:
- Puts you into a state of drowsiness to get you ready for sleep
- Helps you fall asleep quicker
- Extends your total sleep duration
- Enriches your overall sleep quality
- Enhances your alertness in the morning
- Treats sleep problems caused by insomnia or jet lag
During a normal night of sleep, your blood levels of melatonin will stay elevated between the hours of 9 PM – 9 AM, for a period of about 12 hours.
As the sun rises and daylight comes, the pineal gland will become inactive, and your blood levels of melatonin will decrease to a point that they are barely detectable.
Now that we know what melatonin is, let’s get into melatonin benefits.
1. Melatonin Increases Intramitochondrial Levels of Glutathione
Melatonin also helps increase the intramitochondrial levels of glutathione in the muscle, liver, and brain tissues. Glutathione is a naturally occurring and powerful antioxidant that is crucial to combating oxidative stress and damage in the body, as well as boosting immune function.
Recent research has indicated that the body is able to naturally produce more glutathione while sleeping. Additionally, researchers have found evidence of a positive correlation between higher glutathione levels and better sleep. Numerous animal studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to a significant decrease in glutathione levels.
One study published in the Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry journal in 2012 compared glutathione levels in healthy people and insomnia patients. The researchers wanted to examine the effects of primary insomnia, now known as insomnia disorder, on certain biomarkers of oxidative stress.
Biomarkers are used as an indication that a biological process in the body has taken place or has started.
Back to the study:
Both healthy participants and participants with insomnia had their levels of glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, and malondialdehyde measured. Glutathione peroxidase is an intracellular antioxidant enzyme whose main role is to protect the body from oxidative stress and damage. Malondialdehyde is a naturally occurring compound that is a biomarker for oxidative stress in the body.
It was shown that the participants with insomnia had significantly lower levels of glutathione peroxidase activity, and higher levels of malondialdehyde. The researchers concluded that sleep plays an important role in reducing oxidative stress. Whereas sleep deprivation causes a significant reduction in glutathione levels, consistently getting quality, restful sleep may help maintain, if not increase your glutathione levels.
2. Melatonin Helps Improve Female Reproductive Health
Melatonin has been shown to help regulate the timing and release of female hormones. This includes the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles. Additionally, melatonin has shown potential in helping improve sleep quality in both perimenopausal and menopausal women, as well as decrease the severity of their negative symptoms.
Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. It marks the time during which your body naturally transitions to menopause, and the end of your menstrual cycles.
You may be wondering – is there any evidence to back that up? As it happens, there is! One study focused on a 6-month long daily melatonin supplementation to perimenopausal and menopausal women, aged 42-62. The findings of this study were that most of the women reported an overall improved mood, and their depressive symptoms were significantly weakened.
This appears to indicate that melatonin supplementation in perimenopausal and menopausal women may result in improved recovery of thyroid and pituitary function. Additionally, it helps decrease the negative symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause, including sleep disturbances.
3. Melatonin Boosts Immune Function
Melatonin has strong antioxidant properties that point to its strong potential in strengthening the immune system. One scientific review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2013 referred to melatonin as an “immune buffer.” What that means is that melatonin acts as an immunostimulator under basal or immunosuppressive conditions. Melatonin helps stimulate the immune system to fight off infections.
Basal refers to the minimum necessary level for health or life.
Additionally, the status of melatonin as an “immune buffer” comes from its function as an anti-inflammatory compound when the immune response is intensified, such as during acute inflammation.
But that’s not all!
In a separate study published in the Journal of Pineal Research in 2016, the researchers proposed that, as an antioxidant, melatonin underpromises, but over-delivers.
That is due to a variety of factors:
- Melatonin directly detoxifies reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which are free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells.
- Melatonin indirectly reduces oxidative stress by stimulating antioxidant enzyme activity, and suppressing pro-oxidant enzyme activity.
- Melatonin chelates transition metals, reducing their toxicity.
- This results in decreased formation of the highly toxic hydroxyl radical, which reduces oxidative stress.
- The high intramitochondrial concentrations of melatonin help increase its ability to fight oxidative stress and apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
- Melatonin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and restore tissue function in human trials.
Believe it or not:
The researchers of this study believe that it’s possible that these are just secondary effects of the more fundamental, not-yet-identified actions of melatonin for sleep.
4. Melatonin Supplement Helps Treat Jet Lag-Related Sleep Problems
Jet Lag is a temporary sleep disorder that results from the slow adjustment of the circadian rhythms to the destination time while traveling by plane across numerous time zones. This slow adjustment causes the sleep-wake cycle to be unsynchronized with the new environment. Melatonin supplement has been shown to help reset your sleep-wake cycle when you have jet lag.
In one scientific review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, researchers were analyzing the effectiveness of melatonin supplement at different dosages in combating jet lag after traveling across multiple time zones. They found that melatonin supplement is greatly effective in the prevention or reduction of jet lag and its symptoms, and its occasional short-term usage seems to be safe.
How so? In nine out of ten trials, in which melatonin supplement was used close to the objective bedtime of 10 PM to 12 AM at the destination, there was a reduction in jet lag in travelers who crossed at least 5 time zones. Daily dosages ranging between 0.5 and 5 mg proved to be similarly effective, but travelers fell asleep and experienced a higher sleep quality with 5 mg than 0.5 mg. Melatonin supplement dosage with amounts higher than 5 mg did not yield better results. The researchers of this review hypothesized that the benefit of melatonin supplement is greater when more time zones are crossed.
It’s important to note, though: A major finding of this research is that the timing of the dosage is essential because a dosage early in the day could induce feelings of sleepiness and a phase delay in adapting to the new time zone. The occurrence of other side effects from melatonin supplement was discovered to be low.
5. Melatonin Supplement Helps Children on the Spectrum Sleep Better
Did you know that between 44%-86% of children with autism spectrum disorder also have a sleep disorder? Researchers believe that there is a connection between the circadian rhythms of melatonin and sleep problems that children with autism spectrum disorder experience. They believe that the sleep problems may be due to changes in the synchronization of circadian rhythms of melatonin.
It has been well established that the neurotransmitters of serotonin, melatonin, and GABA are needed to set up a regular wake-sleep cycle. If the production of any of these neurotransmitters is impaired, then sleep will be disrupted.
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of melatonin in autism spectrum disorders, which was published in the Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology journal in 2011, children with a spectrum disorder may have abnormal regulation of melatonin. Children with a spectrum disorder have shown decreased activity in the ASMT gene, which catalyzes the final chemical reaction in which serotonin is converted into melatonin for sleep.
What does this mean? Decreased activity in the ASMT gene indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder may have lower levels of melatonin for sleep.
Going back to the systematic review and meta-analysis: Thirty-five studies were included in the review and meta-analysis. These studies investigated the effects of melatonin supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorders, including:
- Autistic disorder
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Rett syndrome
- Pervasive developmental disorders, not otherwise specified
Nine of these 35 studies measured melatonin and its metabolites in these children. All of these studies reported at least one abnormality:
- Four of the nine studies reported that children with autism spectrum disorder showed an abnormal melatonin circadian rhythm.
- Seven of the nine studies reported that children with autism spectrum disorder showed below-average physiological levels of melatonin and/or its derivatives.
- Four of the nine studies reported a positive correlation between melatonin levels and autistic behaviors.
There were five studies that reported gene abnormalities that could lead to reduced melatonin production or adversely affect melatonin receptor function in a small percentage of ASD children. The results?
Six studies reported that melatonin supplement improved daytime behavior in children with an autism spectrum disorder.
These improvements included:
- Less behavioral rigidity
- Ease of management by parents and teachers
- Fewer temper tantrums
- Less irritability
- Better social interaction
- More playfulness
- Increased alertness
- Better academic performance
Eighteen studies on melatonin supplement as a treatment method for children with a spectrum disorder reported that these children showed improvements in sleep latency, sleep duration, and middle-of-the-night awakenings.
Five of the 18 studies were randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover studies, with two of the studies containing blended samples of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders, although only the data pertaining to autism spectrum disorder was used in the meta-analysis. The meta-analysis of these five studies showed significant improvements with large effect sizes on the parameters of sleep latency and sleep duration, but not in middle-of-the-night awakenings.
The researchers who conducted this review interpreted the results of the studies as evidence that melatonin supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder correlated positively with better sleep and improved daytime behavior. Additionally, melatonin supplement is relatively inexpensive and safe, with minimal side effects even after multiple years of use.
Liposomal Melatonin Supplements
If you are looking for ways to increase your melatonin blood levels, you should consider a melatonin supplement.
More specifically, you may want to do some research on liposomal technology. Liposomal Technology uses micro-sized fluid-filled liposomes to protect and deliver nutrients directly into the cells and tissues of the body. These liposomes are very similar to human cells, which makes it easier for them to be transported within the body. As a result, nutrient absorption is greatly increased, and there is less intestinal discomfort than with using standard oral supplements.
Liposomal Technology provides several different advantages, including:
- Micro-sized encapsulation that protects against the harsh acidity of the gastrointestinal tract
- Increased delivery to cells, tissues, and organs
- Higher absorption rates and bioavailability than other standard oral supplements
- Noninvasive compared to intravenous supplementation
- Lower doses provide the same effects as high-dose standard oral supplements
- Helps put nutrients to use by the body faster
- Prevents gastrointestinal distress usually experienced with standard oral supplements
Clearly, liposomal melatonin supplement deserves serious consideration as a potential sleep aid.
Why You Should Consider Melatonin Supplement?
Melatonin has many benefits, ranging from its antioxidant, immune-boosting properties to combating jet lag. Most importantly, melatonin has been shown to have many sleep-related benefits, such as helping you fall asleep faster and for longer. You should take the necessary steps to keep your levels of melatonin within a healthy, normal range during the nighttime for overall better sleep quality.