MELATONIN: WHAT IS IT? DOES IT WORK?

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What Is Melatonin?
"Melatonin is a natural hormone that plays a role in sleep. Melatonin production and release in the brain is related to time of day, rising in the evening and falling in the morning. Light at night blocks its production. Melatonin dietary supplements have been studied for sleep disorders, such as jet lag, disruptions of the body’s internal “clock,” insomnia, and problems with sleep among people who work night shifts. It has also been studied for dementia symptoms.

What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Melatonin
For Sleep Disorders Studies suggest that melatonin may help with certain sleep disorders, such as jet lag, delayed sleep phase disorder (a disruption of the body’s biological clock in which a person’s sleep-wake timing cycle is delayed by 3 to 6 hours), sleep problems related to shift work, and some sleep disorders in children. It's also been shown to be helpful for a sleep disorder that causes changes in blind peoples’ sleep and wake times. Study results are mixed on whether melatonin is effective for insomnia in adults, but some studies suggest it may slightly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Jet lag
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
  • Shift Work Disorder
  • Insomnia
For Other Conditions 
While there hasn't been enough research to support melatonin’s use for other conditions:
  • Researchers are investigating whether adding melatonin to standard cancer care can improve response rates, survival time, and quality of life.
  • Results from a few small studies in people (clinical trials) have led investigators to propose additional research on whether melatonin may help to improve mild cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and prevent cell damage associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). An analysis of the research suggested that adding sustained-release melatonin (but not fast-release melatonin) to high blood pressure management reduced elevated nighttime blood pressure.
Improving Sleep Habits in Children
Sleep problems are one of the most common problems parents encounter with their children. There are some simple steps parents can take to improve their children’s sleep, such as having a set bedtime and bedtime routine, avoiding foods or drinks with caffeine, and limiting the amount of screen time.