From Dr. Mercola:
The hormone melatonin plays many important roles in your health, from helping you sleep better to strengthening your immune system, slowing down brain aging, reducing migraine attacks, protecting bone mass, and preventing cancer.
Lack of sun exposure during the day combined with artificial lighting late into the night disrupts your biological clock and hence, your melatonin production, and this disruption can provoke a number of adverse health effects.
In fact, melatonin has been the subject of preclinical research on over 100 different disease applications, many of which go hand in hand with your need for sleep.
Melatonin for Sleep and Beyond
Your master biological clock resides in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of your brain (SCN), which is part of your hypothalamus. Based on signals of light and darkness, your SCN tells your pineal gland when it’s time to secrete melatonin, and when to turn it off.
In scientific studies, melatonin supplementation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep, experience less restlessness, and prevent daytime fatigue.
Keep in mind that you may only need a very minimal dose. I recommend taking only 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg to start, and adjusting upward from there. Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so start low and adjust your dose as needed.
Melatonin has also been found to reduce the effects of jet lag when traveling across multiple time zones.1 And children suffering with eczema, a condition that oftentimes prevents good sleep, may also get more shut-eye with melatonin supplementation,2 according to recent research.
Interestingly, melatonin also helped dampen the severity of the eczema, hinting at its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the benefits of melatonin go far beyond sleep. Three specific areas I’ll address in this article are its role in depression, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.
Normalizing Your Circadian System Helps Alleviate Depressive Symptoms
Your melatonin level inversely rises and falls with light and darkness, and both your physical and mental health is intricately tied to this rhythm of light and dark. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set.
Conversely, when you’re exposed to bright artificial lighting at night, including blue light emitted from TVs and electronic screens, you may have trouble falling asleep due to suppressed melatonin levels.
Light exposure when you wake up at night can also be problematic as I explain in my video above. However you don’t have to stumble around as red and orange wavelengths will not suppress melatonin production.
You can use a red light to guide you to the bathroom. If you have a clock in your bedroom make sure it has a red LED display. Blue would be the worst as it is the one that shuts down melatonin most effectively.
Winter Blues SAD
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, also called “the winter blues”) is associated with lack of sun exposure, and