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Sleeping Through the Night: The Role of Melatonin and Other Sleep Aids

, Sleeping Through the Night: The Role of Melatonin and Other Sleep Aids, eTurboNews | eTN
image courtesy of Claudio_Scott from Pixabay
Written by Linda Hohnholz

After a long day at work or school, the only thing that runs through your mind may be to jump into your cozy bed and enjoy a good rest.

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However, sleeping through the night can be a struggle for many reasons. Jet lag, anxiety, exposure to light, job stress, or a sleep disorder might be why you can’t get a good night’s sleep when you need it the most. Fortunately, melatonin supplements and natural sleep aids can help you tackle the underlying causes and get the much-desired rest.

According to data from the CDC, over 8.4 percent of adults use sleeping aids to help them sleep through the night. These figures suggest that more and more people are struggling to get a good night’s rest.

When used correctly, sleeping pills can be effective in helping you fall or stay asleep through the night. However, it all boils down to understanding the role of melatonin and other sleep aids in helping you find the appropriate solution to overcoming sleep problems.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain to control your biological clock. The hormone synchronizes your body’s circadian rhythms, telling your brain when to sleep and wake up.

While melatonin is a natural bodily hormone, some people have problems producing it naturally. Low melatonin production or dysfunction might result from aging, mood disorders, chronic conditions, and frequent exposure to light during bedtime. Jet lag, anxiety, and developmental disorders can also cause melatonin deficiency.

Taking melatonin sleep aids can help decrease sleep latency and promote a good night’s sleep. These supplements may come in natural forms derived from animals or synthetic forms from artificial sources. You may also find them as oral pills, chewables, or liquids. Some melatonin sleep medications might require a prescription, while others do not.

What is the Role of Melatonin & Other Sleep Aids in Inducing Sleep?

Melatonin plays a significant role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. It helps your body transition from alertness to sleep. It also helps you to stay asleep if you are already sleeping, allowing you to rest through the night without disturbances.

The pineal gland produces more melatonin in the dark, particularly at night. Once secreted, it moves into the bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid. Sensory receptors then detect the presence of melatonin in the body’s circulatory system and signal your brain it’s time to sleep. The secreted hormone also helps maintain sleep, allowing you to enjoy a good night’s sleep. In the morning, melatonin levels drop significantly, increasing your alertness and likelihood of waking up.

Sleep aids work similarly to melatonin hormones. They assist the body’s natural sleep-regulating functions, decreasing sleep latency and allowing you to sleep faster and longer. Sleep supplements with melatonin can be effective for people with a melatonin deficiency.

Other sleep aids might not have melatonin as one of the ingredients. These supplements induce sleep by calming the mind and relaxing the body for a restful, uninterrupted slumber. They contain natural compounds that reduce stress and anxiety to help you rest better through the night. They may also have a sedative effect, slowing down your brain’s and body’s functions.

Is it Safe to Use Melatonin and Other Sleeping Aids?

It is generally safe to use sleeping aids. However, it is important to note that the most appropriate solution for sleep problems depends on the patient’s health and sleep patterns, among other factors.

For instance, since melatonin is a hormone, melatonin supplements are not ideal for people with hormonal conditions. They can cause a hormonal imbalance and lead to other side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness during the day. Melatonin sleep pills are also not suitable for lactating mothers and pregnant women due to the changes in their hormonal structure.

In those specific cases, you are advised to use sleeping medications that do not have melatonin. Ideally, go for products that contain natural compounds such as the amino acid tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan. These components can help trigger the production of melatonin naturally, effectively treating severe insomnia, and improving sleep quality.

With that said, over-the-counter sleep medications might not help cure the problem. Most sleep medications only offer a short-term solution for inducing sleep. If you have severe insomnia or persistent sleep disorders, you might require a prescription from a licensed doctor. In these cases, you may have to deal with the underlying causes of your sleep problems to find a long-term solution before the problem gets worse.

About the author


Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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