Both melatonin and serotonin control different things in our bodies, like how hungry we are, how we feel, and how well we sleep.
Serotonin is a chemical that sends messages between nerve cells. This just means that it is in charge of sending messages between nerve cells and making responses.
Melatonin, on the other hand, is something that acts like a neurotransmitter. It is an important part of how our circadian rhythm, or body clock, works. Our circadian rhythm controls hormone release, body temperature, and how we sleep.
What makes melatonin different from serotonin?
In terms of hormones, serotonin and melatonin are almost like day and night. Even though they do different jobs, they must work together to keep the body in balance.
Serotonin can be described as our body’s natural happiness drug. It’s a “feel-good” hormone that makes us happier and more relaxed and gives us more energy all around. This energy is especially important because we all need it to wake up in the morning and get rid of the tiredness that would keep us in bed otherwise.
Melatonin is on the other end of the scale. Melatonin is the “darkness hormone,” which isn’t as scary as it sounds. The name comes from the fact that the pineal gland in the brain makes melatonin when it is dark. Any sleep expert will tell you that turning off the lights and using black-out blinds or an eye mask in the bedroom is a great way to start the sleep cycle. This is because when the light changes, the eye sends a message to the brain saying that it should make more melatonin. Melatonin slows down the body, making it more tired and ready for sleep.
Without melatonin, it would be impossible to sleep in a calm, restful way, and the body wouldn’t be able to do the healing things it usually does while you’re asleep.
So what does this mean for sleeping?
Your body makes more melatonin when it’s dark, but it makes more serotonin when it’s sunny or bright. In short, melatonin helps you fall asleep, and serotonin helps you feel awake when you wake up the next day.
If you don’t have enough melatonin, you might have trouble sleeping or even insomnia. If you don’t have enough serotonin, you might feel sad and tired.
How can melatonin and serotonin be used to help you sleep well?
The easiest way to use these hormones to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin levels at night and your serotonin levels in the morning.
How do you do this, though? It’s not as hard as you may think. To get more melatonin at night, just turn down the lights in the evening and stay away from bright screens for a while before bed. Meditation is also thought to be a good way to help you wind down before bed.
The next day, everything is about letting light in. Open the curtains and let in as much sunlight as you can to raise your serotonin level. Even better, go outside and breathe some fresh air.
You can also get more melatonin and serotonin from the food you eat. Cherries have a lot of melatonin in them, and bananas, oatmeal, and milk help the body make more of it. A lot of foods that are high in serotonin and protein are eggs, chicken, nuts, and seeds. This will give you the energy to get through the day.
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain makes when it senses that it’s getting dark.
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Melatonin can also be bought as a supplement in the United States. Melatonin supplements come in many forms, such as pills, liquids, and patches.
Most people only take melatonin for a few weeks.
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Some people, like shift workers or those with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, can use melatonin to reset their internal body clocks and sleep better. Melatonin is often called the “sleep hormone,” but it may have other important roles besides controlling sleep. For example, it might help calm your nerves before surgery.
Melatonin is generally well tolerated and doesn’t cause side effects, so it can be a safe short-term solution for sleep problems.
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Most prescription sleep aids have this in common. Studies have shown that it can help you fall asleep seven minutes faster, add eight minutes to your total sleep time, and improve the quality of your sleep as a whole.
Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers it a dietary supplement, there are no official guidelines for melatonin dosage in the United States. How much melatonin is safe to take depends on your age, body weight, and how sensitive you are to it.
Melatonin Dosage for Adults
There is no official recommended amount of melatonin for adults, but a range of 1 mg to 5 mg has been used.
Adults can take melatonin a few hours before bed.
Melatonin for women who are pregnant or who are nursing
Women who are pregnant or who are nursing should not take melatonin without first talking to their doctor. There hasn’t been enough research into whether or not melatonin is safe for this group.
Melatonin Dosage for Older Adults
As a person gets older, their melatonin levels naturally go down.
Many older adults’ sleep-wake cycles get messed up when they look at source. As a result, older adults may have an increased sensitivity to melatonin. In a meta-analysis of 16 studies, older adults aged 55 to 77 were given melatonin doses between 0.1 milligrams and 50 milligrams per kilogram. In all of the studies, the melatonin levels of older adults were higher and stayed higher for longer than those of younger adults. This made older adults feel sleepier during the day. The stronger these effects were, the more melatonin the person had taken.
So, researchers say that older people should start with the smallest amount of melatonin possible. Smaller doses might help older people sleep better without messing up their circadian rhythms or making them sleepy for a long time.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that people with dementia should not take melatonin.
Melatonin Dosage for Children
Most children seem to be able to handle small doses of melatonin for short periods of time, but parents should talk to their child’s doctor before giving them melatonin. The right dose for a child depends on what is making them have trouble sleeping. Insomnia in children is usually treated with doses of 1 to 2 milligrams.
When children take melatonin, the side effects are usually mild and may include:
- Having more wet beds than usual
Melatonin may be given to children with sleep problems, such as insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, by their doctors. Several studies have shown that giving children with these conditions melatonin supplements can make them sleep 25 to 48 minutes longer on average.
But there haven’t been enough studies of melatonin in children for experts to decide on an official recommended dose or any possible long-term safety risks. Since melatonin is a hormone, taking extra melatonin might affect other parts of a child’s hormone development, but more research is needed.
Experts say that if your child is having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor before giving them melatonin. Research shows that in half of the situations where melatonin was used to treat pediatric insomnia, better sleep habits were just as effective at relieving the child’s sleep problems.
What dosage of Melatonin should I take?
It is best to start with the smallest amount of melatonin that is recommended for your age. From there, you can slowly increase your dose until you find one that helps you fall asleep without giving you any side effects. Most of the time, 1 to 5 milligrams of melatonin is a safe starting dose for adults. For older adults, doses of less than 1 milligram may work. Melatonin shouldn’t be given to kids unless a doctor says so.
Melatonin that you can buy over-the-counter may come in standard amounts like 1, 3, or 5 milligrams. To make a smaller starting dose, you can use a pill cutter to cut the tablets in half or in quarters. Dosages of 0.3 and 0.1 can be purchased on Amazon and tend to cost much lett.
Melatonin: When to Talk to Your Doctor
Before taking any over-the-counter sleep aid, including melatonin, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first. They know your health history and can give you the best advice about how much melatonin you should take. They will also know if melatonin could have a bad effect on any other medicines you are taking.
When you take melatonin, you may be more likely to have side effects if you have certain health conditions or are taking certain medicines. Before taking melatonin, you should talk to your doctor if you take any of the following drugs:
- Oral contraceptives are a way to stop pregnancy.
- Immunosuppressants or corticosteroids
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- Blood pressure-lowering medicines
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- Warfarin or other blood thinning medicines
Also, the following groups of people may be more sensitive to melatonin and shouldn’t take it until they’ve talked to their doctor:
- Those who have dementia
- People who feel sad
- People who have seizures
- Women who are pregnant or who are nursing
- Shift workers