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Melatonin is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland in the human brain. It helps in the maintenance of the body’s circadian rhythm which acts as an internal clock to cause and regulate natural sleeping and waking cycles. The release and synthesis of melatonin is largely controlled by exposure to natural or artificial light. Its release is activated by a lack of light, while exposure to light during the body’s biological night can suppress melatonin production.
Melatonin has been increasingly used as a supplement with the sole purpose of combatting sleep disorders and adjusting sleep patterns. Melatonin supplements are extensively used in the adjustment of sleep-wake patterns especially in people with irregular daily work routines and those who suffer from shift-work sleep disorder (SWSD). Melatonin supplements help blind people to distinguish day from night and are used to treat jet lag. They are used for sleep disorders (insomnia) that result from the side effects of beta-blockers, such as blood pressure medications, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sleep disorders in children with developmental problems like autism, psychiatric disorder and cerebral palsy are also treated with melatonin supplements.
Melatonin is used for:
• delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS);
• rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD);
• insomnia resulting from stopping benzodiazepine drugs and
• reducing the effects of quitting smoking.
Other conditions and diseases which are purported to benefit from melatonin supplements include:
• bipolar disorder;
• chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, a lung disease);
• seasonal affective disorder (SAD);
• chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS);
• tardive dyskinesia (TD, a movement disorder);
• benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH);
• acid reflux disease;
• Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori);
• irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and
Melatonin is also used to:
• calm post-surgery patients,
• in birth control,
• for infertility and