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Melatonin is a natural hormone that aids in sleep. It is released into the brain related to the time of day, and light at night may block production of melatonin.

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›  Health benefits

Supplemental melatonin can be taken for sleep disorders and has been studied for dementia symptoms. Research is investigating the effect of melatonin in standard cancer care, improving response rates, survival time and quality of life.

Results from many small studies have led to a need for more research on whether melatonin can help with Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and elevated nighttime blood pressure.

Jet lag
Symptoms of jet lag include disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue, indigestion and discomfort. Several studies have shown that melatonin helps with jet lag and improves sleep while traveling through time zones.

In adults, studies have shown that melatonin only slightly improved the time it took to fall asleep, total sleep time and sleep quality. Another study showed that in adults 55 and older, it significantly improved quality of sleep and morning alertness. In children there is limited evidence on the effects, but one literature review suggested a beneficial effect in healthy children, those with ADHD and autism, and in several other populations. There is not enough information on the long-term effects in children.

›  How much do I need?

Dosage amount varies depending on age and what it is being used for. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.

›  Dietary supplements

Melatonin is most commonly available in pill form, but it is also available in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue.

Side effects of supplemental melatonin are uncommon but may include drowsiness, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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