Daily Health Advisors

The SLEEP Hormone

May 4, 2017

All of us over the age of 40 should be taking this hormone.  Melatonin could be called the sleep hormone but it has far more important properties.


We are constantly bombarded with electromagnetic fields on a daily basis.  TV screens, lights and other electronic devices.  This coupled with the fact that we don’t go to sleep when it becomes dark, means we have less melatonin circulating in our bodies.  Light from direct sunlight or from electric sources causes our natural production of melatonin to decline.  Melatonin naturally increases at night time close to sleep time but these days most of us are deficient.


Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland at the base of the brain. Melatonin spikes just before sleep, making us tired and ready for bed and ready for a restful night. Closer to morning melatonin decreases and we wake up rested and refreshed after having a good nights sleep.


Since most adults are melatonin deficient, we tend to have poor sleep.  Melatonin is beneficial for other reasons.  It is the most potent hormonal antioxidant known which means it has immune boosting effects and that it fights free radicals which promote aging. Another important characteristic is melatonin’s anti-cancer effects.  Many studies now are showing the anti-cancer properties of this hormone. In one study women who are blind have significantly less cancer — the reason is that light and melatonin oppose each other.  A blind women have no opposition to their naturally produced melatonin so they have relatively higher melatonin levels and that decreases cancer risk.


I advise patients to take melatonin nightly every night.  Some people already use melatonin but only take it sporadically maybe just for jet lag or if they do shift work where their normal sleep cycle is disrupted. Finding the dose that is good for you is key. I recommend starting with a low dose — maybe 0.5mg to 1 mg and then working up on the dose until sleep quality is improved.


Everyones response to this hormone is different.  You will notice that about twenty minutes after taking it you will start to yawn.  Continue increasing the dose until your sleep is better.  Too much melatonin can cause vivid dreams.  Some patients wake up in the morning feeling what we call “melatonin-fog” — feeling foggy and not clear headed.  The good news is that this is easily and quickly reversed by getting into bright sunlight. Once exposed to sun, the fog lifts within a minute or two.


Another interesting fact — you cannot overdose on melatonin.  Too much might cause crazy dreams and heavy headed feeling in the morning but unlike sleeping pills won’t suppress our breathing.  I have seen several doses that people take.  I personally find that 4 mg is my nightly dose.  Some females I work with can take up to 10 mg every night.  It is reported that Suzanne Somers takes 20 mg every night.


So try melatonin, start with low doses and enjoy better health and a good nights sleep.


Don Fisher D.O.

Medical Director/ Physician

The BEST Program, Inc. 


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