We’ve all heard about melatonin as a sleep aid. Many of us have tried it. Americans spend $400 million for melatonin a year! But does it really work?
Melatonin is a natural hormone in our body, and is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland. It regulates our sleep and wakefulness.
A large study however found that people taking melatonin fell asleep only 7 minutes faster, and slept 8 minutes longer than those not taking it! However it has been found to be safer than some medications (such as clonazepam, a benzodiazepine) for those over 55 with insomnia.
Fun melatonin fact: In babies, melatonin release doesn’t become regular until about age 3 months, which is when babies start sleeping better! And in teenagers, the release of melatonin is delayed, leading to later waking times.
Some food naturally contains melatonin! Wine, beer, rice, wheat, corn, barley, oats, cherries, bananas, and walnuts can raise melatonin levels.
It has been advised not to drive the day after taking melatonin as it can cause grogginess.