Melatonin – sleep aid that helps you stay fit

Melatonin is the hormone of the pineal gland, which regulates the rhythm of sleep-wakefulness, and also has a wide range of additional effects.

It is also known as sleep hormone. It is used in tablets or capsules to facilitate falling asleep, in order to adjust the “internal hours” during long journeys. Proved a positive effect for weight loss, as well as antioxidant and antitumor effects.

A study by Maria Tosches in 2014 showed that melatonin is one of the oldest hormones that regulated cycles in many living organisms 700 million years ago. Scientists believe that the rhythm of human sleep and other animals was inherited from oceanic ancestors, who, under the influence of this hormone, rose to the surface warmed by the sun during the day, and sank deeper at night.

Melatonin as a drug became available in the United States only in 1993, so this substance has a rather short pharmacological history, and its potential is not yet fully disclosed.

The most important effects of melatonin, which have a solid evidence base:

  • Restores the rhythm of sleep. Melatonin facilitates sleep, restores the natural circadian cycle, eliminates daytime sleepiness
  • Improves mood and mental state
  • The anti-stress effect of melatonin is especially important for modern humans
  • Normalizes blood pressure, due to the regulatory effect on the endocrine system
  • Slows down the aging process (protects cellular DNA, deactivates radicals) and increases life expectancy
  • Strengthens immunity
  • Antioxidant effect. A group of specialists from the University of Petrozavodsk found that products with melatonin have a rejuvenating effect
  • The antitumor effect of melatonin is due to many factors: increased antitumor immunity, decreased radical activity, normalization of hormonal levels and interaction with RZR / ROR receptors
  • Melatonin eliminates some types of headache
  • A recent study by scientists from Spanish and Canadian institutions found that melatonin supplements help strengthen bones. This opens up the possibility of using such additives as a way to prevent osteoporosis in people who are prone to the disease.

Melatonin is involved in the regulation of body weight, and there is evidence that it can reduce the proportion of body fat and prevent obesity (especially in combination with calcium). 

A research team from the University of Granada (Spain), together with colleagues from the American Science Center, found out that melatonin stimulates the appearance of so-called beige fat, such as fat cells that burn calories. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Pineal Research. Unlike white adipose tissue, which accumulates fat, leading to weight gain, beige fat (also known as healthy fat) helps regulate body weight. Beige fat cells express a high level of UCP1– protein, which is necessary for mitochondria to burn calories and generate heat.

In earlier publications, researchers studied the effect of melatonin on obesity, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is associated with obesity, in young obese diabetic rats, an experimental model of metabolic syndrome.

Melatonin reduces oxidative stress after training, improves sleep and speeds up recovery, which is important in bodybuilding and powerlifting.

Melatonin dosage varies depending on the purpose of the intake and individual characteristics. The initial dosage of melatonin is 1-2 mg per day, in the first 2-3 days it is necessary to check the tolerability of the drug. In the subsequent dosage of melatonin can be increased to 5 or even 10 mg per day. The average course duration is 1-2 months.

This is one of the most low-toxic substances, which does not harm health even in very large doses. There are cases when people exceeded the dosage of melatonin by 600 and even 3000 times without harm to health.

Melatonin rarely causes side effects, but there are possible: allergic reactions, headache, nausea, diarrhea, morning drowsiness, depression, edema, and some others. Prolactin levels may be elevated. Almost all side effects of melatonin are reversible – stop immediately after taking the drug.

Assessing the risk to health, we can make a general conclusion: the harm to melatonin is undoubtedly lower than the benefits that this drug can bring.