VITAL FOR SLEEP, REJUVENATION, AND IMMUNITY!
This is a hormone. A pill providing it could throw one's hormone balance off...but..
Be aware that you can generate melatonin via your diet and, believe it or not, sunlight and darkness.
WHAT IT PROVIDES
It is vital to circadian rhythm, which is vital to the body, since the rhythms engage our bodies in the necessary cycles to insure healthy functioning, in an orderly, repeated pattern that has evolved to serve us well! Disrupting it has consequences that are not good for us!
Low melatonin levels damage our immune system, body repair, sleep, frontal lobe functioning - all of which have other consequences, such as feeling of well-being, overeating, more sickness, shorter life, faster aging...
Melatonin is a hugely beneficial powerful antioxidant necessary for immune functioning, healing, repair, and helps fight diseases and cancer, Alzheimer's, and glucose intolerance. Helps to go to sleep quicker (perhaps 40+%) and improves sleep efficiency. It fights cancerous tumors and lowers stress while improving mood, sense of well-being, and outlook. It increases the ability to experience pleasure. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
It has anti-aging properties.
Are you convinced yet?!!!
A supplement of melatonin may reset the clock when you're traveling and suffering "jet lag", but supplementation should not be done without the supervision of a physician!
Tryptophan--> Serotonin -->Melatonin (Pineal gland converts from tryptophan to serotonin which is then converted to melatonin.)
OPTIMIZE THE HELPERS, ELIMINATE THE DETRACTORS
If you drew a graph of melatonin levels relative to the hour, they would peak about 2 a.m. But we want them
1. To peak at a high level (usually about 2 a.m.) and then
2. To also last as long as possible
so that we have the biggest total melatonin effect for maximum health. This is hugely, hugely important!
To optimize the melatonin:
Plant based diet rich in tryptophan (which is necessary to synthesize serotonin and melatonin), plus Vitamin B6, with adequate calcium.
tofu, pumpkin seeds, gluten flour, sesame seeds, almonds, black walnuts,, black-eyed
Carbs help tryptophan enter the brain. (Low carb diets are detrimental.)
Exercise! Significant amounts can even double or triple melatonin levels.
Sleep in the dark (exposure to bright light even for a few moments reduced melatonin)
Use more of the dark hours: Sleep before midnight is the eqivalent of double the sleep
Regular bedtimes and wake times are highly beneficial!!! (And it is harmful if you don't have this regularity!)
Expose yourself to bright sunlight (or the equivalent) for 30 minutes in the morning (actually increases production later at night, plus it generates serotonin).
Eliminate sleep-depriving substances
Coffee (caffeine) - Which also exacerbates stress hormones and anxiety.
Anti-depressant, sleeping aids can also decrease levels of REM sleep
Eliminate drugs that block melatonin secretion
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): ibuprofen (Motrin), aspirin.
Beta blockers (propranolol)
Good summary of drugs that hinder melatonin, including many mood prescriptions at:
DECLINES WITH AGE, SO...
Since melatonin declines quite a bit with age, down to abysmal levels in the 60's and after, it may be appropriate to offset that with supplements (besides doing what is suggested above), but it is preferable to do it through your diet and the practices stated above.
Some experts recommend 3 mg plus.
Consult with a doctor instead of self-prescribing. Take a supplement 1 hour before bedtiime, starting with very low doses (.1 to .3 mg), increasing the dosage until it is effective (no more than 5 mg)
MUST PRODUCE IT CURRENTLY AND CONSISTENTLY
The body does not store melatonin!
Light or darkness signals the pineal gland to start and stop melatonin production
Some other statements by sites:
Although control subjects, like insomniacs, had low melatonin levels, their sleep was unaffected by any melatonin dose.
It induced hypothermia and caused plasma melatonin to remain elevated into the daylight hours.
Melatonin should not be taken for longer than 2 weeks.