Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and it plays a key role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

The main effect of melatonin is to promote sleep by lowering body temperature and preparing the body for sleep. Melatonin also has a variety of positive effects on health.

The release of melatonin is triggered by darkness after sunset.

Effect of melatonin

The main effect of melatonin is the regulation of the sleep-wake rhythm. Without melatonin, the body is unable to achieve deep and restful sleep.

In addition to sleep, melatonin has other health effects:

  • Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and reduces oxidative stress
  • Melatonin has an anti-inflammatory effect
  • Melatonin is important for a healthy blood-brain barrier and the protection of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Supports detoxification

Studies show a positive effect of melatonin on the following illnesses and complaints:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Jet lag
  • Craniocerebral trauma
  • Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Chronic pain
  • Problems with fertility

Studies have also shown that melatonin can counteract weight gain.

Increase melatonin naturally

Melatonin is produced naturally in the body when it gets dark in the evening. However, many people disrupt this process through various habits. Some adjustments can naturally increase the production of melatonin:

Less brightness in the evening

After sunset, the environment should no longer be very bright. Bright light tricks the body into thinking that night has not yet fallen and therefore melatonin production does not start.
Blue light in particular should be avoided at all costs, as the blue light frequency can massively disrupt melatonin production. Therefore, more natural, warm, subdued light is recommended in the evening.
Nowadays, modern PCs, TVs and smartphones have a blue filter that you can switch on in the evening.

The influence of blue light on sleep, performance and wellbeing in young adults: A systematic review

Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans

Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm

Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial

The inner clock—Blue light sets the human rhythm

Avoid electronic devices in the evening

The use of electronic devices such as laptops, iPads and smartphones in the evening can lead to the destruction of melatonin. The effect occurs via exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which are the result of electromagnetic radiation. These consist of higher-frequency EMFs (for example wifi, bluetooth and mobile phones) and low-frequency EMFs (all kinds of electricity). It is important to minimise the exposure to all EMFs.

Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits

Effects of power frequency electromagnetic fields on melatonin and sleep in the rat

Electromagnetic fields and melatonin production

Exploring the EMF-Melatonin Connection: A Review of the Possible Effects of 50/60-Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields on Melatonin Secretion

Influence of Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields on the Circadian System: Current Stage of Knowledge

More natural daylight during the day

People who get too little daylight during the day and tend to stay in dark rooms produce less melatonin at night. This also results in having poorer sleep. It is important to pay attention to high-quality light sources during the day. Ideally, this should be natural sunlight.
Therefore, the use of sunglasses should also be carefully considered to avoid unnecessary blockage of daylight.

Effect of Daylight on Melatonin and Subjective General Health Factors in Elderly People

Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood

Supplementation with melatonin

When supplementing with melatonin, an experienced doctor should be consulted to check the individual causes and adjust the dosage accordingly.
Supplements can be taken, for example, in the form of melatonin spray (sleep spray), melatonin tablets or melatonin gummy bears. It should always be from a high-quality source.

Supplementing with melatonin generally has few side effects if a high-quality product is taken in appropriate doses.
However, it is important to understand that the supplements are a synthetic, artificial form of melatonin. Therefore, producing natural melatonin is always preferable.

Melatonin side effects

Melatonin side effects are rare when taken at the correct dose for the individual.

When the dose is incorrect, the side effects of melatonin can include:

  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Drowsiness and tiredness during the day
  • Irritability and nervousness
  • Concentration problems
  • Stomach problems and nausea

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as people taking certain medications for depression, should not take melatonin supplements.

Dr. med. Karsten Ostermann M.A.

Before taking any melatonin, it is important to find out the individual causes of the melatonin deficiency. The exclusive administration of melatonin is merely symptom treatment and thus not sufficient to achieve long-term improvement.

Dr. Karsten Ostermann

Further information

The information listed contains relevant topics and serves to improve understanding.