The Use of Melatonin in Treating Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which the affected person is unable to fall asleep and/or maintain a proper sleeping cycle. These people find it difficult to fall asleep and when they do, it does not last a long before they start tossing and turning. One way to control this disorder is by using melatonin which is a drug that enhances and works like the melatonin naturally found in the body.
In the mid-brain, there is a pea-sized gland known as the pineal gland. This is responsible for regulating sleep and wake cycles in all humans. During the day, it is inactive but during the night when it is dark, the gland is activated and produces melatonin. Normally, this occurs at around 9pm. The melatonin released is carried in blood to other parts of the body resulting in reduced alertness and induces sleep. Melatonin levels in the body normally remain elevated for 12 hours and fall to undetectable levels during the day. This increases alertness keeping the person awake all through the day before the levels increase at night and the cycle continues. The release of melatonin is induced by darkness while light switches the pineal gland off.
In people suffering from insomnia, their sleep-wake cycle is defective. Their melatonin levels tend to be low even during the night. This especially is a condition that is mainly associated with aging and mainly affects people over 55 years of age. So, how does melatonin medication work to beat insomnia to induce better sleep and sleeping pattern?
To be noted is that melatonin is not sold strictly as a drug. It is available in several foods and its sell as a food supplement is allowed by medicine regulation boards. There are melatonin tablets sold too. No matter what the mode of administration is melatonin increases the blood melatonin levels greatly. A dose of 1 to 3 mg increases the blood melatonin levels by 1 to 20 times than the normal. The effect is better sleep with a regular sleeping cycle.
In order for melatonin to work, it needs to be taken in the right dosage and at the right time of the day (same time daily). Taking melatonin at the wrong time could reset the biological clock resulting in undesirable effects. Before taking melatonin in any form, the advice of a doctor needs to be sought to avoid unwanted side effects. Those with kidney and liver problems should actually avoid taking the melatonin as these organs are necessary for its metabolism and excretion. People under 55 years of age should be careful with taking melatonin as well. Some of the side effects you can expect when on this drug include low body temperatures, vivid dreams, morning grogginess and blood pressure changes.