Melatonin: To Take or Not to Take

Getting sufficient sleep is essential to achieve good health. The body needs sleep to rest both the mind and body and restore energy. Sleep is the time when the body repairs itself—through sleep, the cells and tissues that have been damaged repairs itself. In addition to these health benefits, the body boosts and builds up the immune system through sleep. The immune system may experience breakdown and result to the development of different ailments and extended recovery times. Medical studies show that sleep helps improve the functions of the immune system. However, there are many factors that may hinder individuals to have adequate sleep and therefore further hamper health developments. Medical studies show that depression, anxiety, and low levels of melatonin may cause sleep difficulties.

Medical studies show that throughout their lives, human beings produces a sleep hormone called melatonin, with the highest production produced during childhood. As people age, the production of melatonin declines, that is why additional melatonin supplementation as sleep aid is encouraged by many doctors to their elderly patients. This hormone works by regulating the body’s internal clock that may activate the occurrence of sleep. Additional studies show that melatonin supplementation may delay the aging process of human beings. This is possible because these supplements may boosts the immune system and contains more antioxidants than vitamin C or E or beta-carotene. Antioxidants in melatonin may destroy cell-damaging compounds called free radicals that can lead to heart disease, cataracts, and other age-related ailments. More research however is needed to find out it melatonin helps prevent these conditions.

However, like other supplementation, melatonin may also bring side effects. Common side effects of melatonin may include headaches, drowsiness, irritability, and reduced alertness. This supplement may also increase blood pressure in individuals who are taking blood-pressure lowering medicines that contain nifedipine. In addition to these ill-effects, melatonin supplementation may also decrease the levels of reproductive hormones among pregnant, breast-feeding, or women who want to conceive.

Instead of taking over-the-counter or prescription medication sleep aid, doctors advise individuals to partake in physical activities and diets composed of vegetables and fruits. Many fruits and vegetables contain tryptophan, an amino acid which promotes the production of melatonin. Other foods that are high in tryptophan are turkey, milk. whole grains, bananas, and eggs. Eating food in complex carbohydrates along with tryptophan promoting food may enable this substance to get to the brain and enable it to relax. These moments of relaxation may promote to sound sleep.

Stress and anxiety on the other hand can be treated by engaging in exercise and other physical activities. Medical studies suggest that physical activities promote the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killer. Endorphins help elevates a person’s mood and eliminates moments of distress. Many health specialists refer to this phenomenon as the runner’s high. Health experts however warn individuals who partake in physical activities not to over-train. Over-training causes fatigue and diminish sterility, it temporarily reduces sperm quality and quantity. This happens because the body literally “kills” itself during exercise. To build and improve the body and needs rest to attain normal cell development. Too much physical activity may even reduce the level of testosterone in men.

Though the use of medication for sleep aid is not prohibited, health specialists advise those who want to achieve worthwhile sleep to partake in other physical activities and healthy diets. People should bear in mind that there are no shortcuts in achieving good health and sound sleep.

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