Melatonin is the primary hormone of the pineal gland and acts to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, especially the sleep/wake cycle. When administered in pharmacological doses (1-3mgs), melatonin acts as a powerful sleep regulating agent that controls the circadian rhythm. A low dose of melatonin has also been shown to be effective in treating insomnia and jet lag. In a recent study, volunteers were either given a .3 mg or a 1 mg dose of melatonin or a placebo. Both levels of melatonin were effective at decreasing the time needed to fall asleep. The same area of the brain that releases melatonin also regulates serotonin production. Serotonin helps to produce melatonin. If you are deficient in serotonin, you’ll also be deficient in melatonin (can’t sleep). If you’re low in serotonin I recommend you start taking 5HTP before beginning Melatonin Therapy. To find out if you are low in serotonin please take the brain function questionnaire:
Melatonin is affected by a persons exposure to light. Melatonin levels start to rise as the sun goes down and drop off as the sun comes up. The retina (eyes) are extremely sensitive to changes in light. An increase in light that strikes the retina triggers a decrease in melatonin production. Conversely, limited exposure to light increases melatonin production. This explains why some individuals suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
For patients who are having trouble falling asleep (and serotonin levels are normal) I recommend they begin with taking 3mg of sublingual melatonin at bed time and increase up to 9mg, if needed. For those who fall asleep but wake during the night, I recommend starting with 3mg of sublingual melatonin and if needed adding 3mg of timed release melatonin.
What Can Decrease Melatonin Levels?
• exposure to bright lights at night
• exposure to electromagnetic fields
• NSAIDs (Celebrex, Vioxx, Mobic, Alleve, Bextra,etc.)
• SSRIs, yes the very same antidepressants that many take for FMS, including Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and Lexapro.
• anxiety meds (benzodiazepines) like Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax, Restoril, etc.
• anti-hypertensive meds (beta-blockers, adrenergics, and calcium channel blockers) including, Inderal, Toprol, Tenormin, Lorpressor, etc.
• over 3 mg. of vitamin B12 in a day.
• evening exercise (for up to three hours afterwards)
Foods High in Melatonin:
• sweet corn
• Japenese radish
Drugs That Raise Melatonin Levels:
• fluvoxamine (Luvox)
• desipramine (Norpramin)
• most MAOIs
• St. John’s Wort (acts as an MAOI and may help raise melatonin levels)