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Melatonin and Insomnia

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First, melatonin is not a prescription drug. It is sold over the counter at health food stores and alternative medicine shops as well as in drug stores around the country. Melatonin is actually a hormone that is produced in the middle part of the brain in humans. Melatonin can be purchased in two forms; natural and synthetic. Natural melatonin is usually extracted from the brains of sheep, while synthetic melatonin is manufactured in laboratories.

Melatonin is always present in the body, but there is more present during the nighttime hours than during daylight hours. Researchers have determined that melatonin has a bearing on our sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin has been used to reduce the effects of jet lag and to help shift workers be better able to sleep during daylight hours.

The body's natural production of melatonin decreases with age, and some studies suggest that older people can benefit from taking either natural or synthetic melatonin. It has also proven to be beneficial in helping those who have become addicted to prescription sleeping aids kick their addiction.

There is, of course, controversy. Isn't there always? Doctors and the medical establishment object to the use of melatonin because, they say, the production is not well regulated and that there has been no scientific proof that it actually works. The medical establishment objects to all herbal remedies, however. Those who use melatonin successfully swear by it, so I suppose you can take your pick of what to believe.

There have been studies, although not ones that satisfy the medical establishment. In the studies that have been conducted, melatonin has proven to be effective for some people and ineffective for others, but there are no apparent side effects that have been noted. Since there are no side effects, it is safe for you to try melatonin and see if it will help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.

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