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HomescienceWhat it is, why it is and how to take it

What it is, why it is and how to take it

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For doctors, sleep is a physiological necessity just as important as eating or breathing. No wonder our body is biologically programmed to turn off when the ambient light begins to fade – giving us the signal to relax and rest at night.

This is only possible because there is a series of processes that start when the sun begins to set. One of them is the release of melatonina hormone produced in the pineal gland, a structure located in the center of the brain.

This substance is responsible for warning organs such as the stomach and liver that it is time to slow down and prepare to rest. But not only this. In parallel, other body processes that occur only during sleep are preparing to begin. This is the case, for example, of brain activity that involves memory.

The problem is that with the pace of life in the modern world, with long hours in front of a computer, smartphones and artificial lights when it’s dark outside, our biological clock has been struggling to reach that rhythm – causing this to happen. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep after going to bed.

No wonder then that the “sleep hormone,” also known as melatonin, has been sought after by many people who just can’t sleep properly. However, it is not suitable for everyone who has difficulty sleeping and can have some unpleasant effects if used incorrectly.

Next, ask your questions about melatonin.

Melatonin: what it is, what it is and more

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a neurohormone, that is, a chemical produced by the body that has a specific physiological effect.

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In this case, melatonin is produced in the pineal gland located in the center of the brain.

What is melatonin used for?

Melatonin does the job of regulating our biological clock, telling the body — and directing the functioning of organs and metabolism itself — when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. It’s called the sleep-wake cycle.

Therefore, its release in our bodies begins at the beginning of the night, when natural light begins to decrease, and its production peaks a few hours after dark.

When day breaks and light appears on the horizon again, melatonin production stops, preparing the body to wake up and continue with daily activities.

Can melatonin treat insomnia?

no. First of all, it is worth clarifying: There are no medical guidelines that recommend the use of melatonin for the treatment of Insomnia.

Difficulty falling asleep is not necessarily due to insomnia: there are currently about 50 diseases included in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders. like insomnia respiratory failure (or sleep apnea syndrome, as it is also called), which is another common disease, among them.

Therefore, before self-treatment, it is recommended to seek the help of a sleep medicine specialist for a correct diagnosis and only then to order supplementation, if necessary.

Who can take melatonin?

Doctors refer to melatonin for certain conditions in which an individual suffers from the wrong or insufficient production of the “sleep hormone.”

This is the case, for example, in a circadian rhythm disorder, when the release of melatonin occurs outside the normal rhythm and causes an individual’s sleep-wake cycle to be disturbed with the light-dark cycle of the daily routine.

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Another specific case of recommendations for melatonin supplementation is REM sleep behavior disorder, in which a person physically reacts (screaming, kicking, or hitting, for example) to vivid dreams.

There are still some syndromes and even patients with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) who may also have alterations in melatonin production, requiring replacement to achieve a better quality of life.

Who should not take melatonin?

This substance is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or children – only under medical supervision.

Individuals with a history of autoimmune disease, liver or kidney problems, seizures, depressionAnd high pressure or diabetic They should also talk to a doctor they trust to see if they can take the supplement.

How do you take melatonin?

Since it is sensitive to light, melatonin should be taken close to bedtime, preferably with the lights out.

Where to buy melatonin?

After the release of Anvisa (the National Health Monitoring Agency), at the end of 2021, melatonin in tablets or drops can be found in any Brazilian pharmacy and can be purchased without the need for a prescription.

Is it dangerous to take melatonin?

no. Studies performed to date have shown no toxic effects in the use of melatonin by humans, even at higher doses.

However, despite the launch of Anvisa for marketing, experts do not recommend self-medication.

What are the side effects of melatonin?

The most common effects of melatonin use are excessive daytime sleepiness, dizziness, Headache And nausea.

What is the recommended melatonin dose for sleep?

In Brazil, Anvisa has allowed melatonin to be sold as a dietary supplement for a maximum daily consumption of 0.21 mg.

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However, the recommended dose may vary – more or less – depending on the patient’s condition. Therefore, again, experts are unanimously agreed that it is best to seek medical advice before using the substance.


Alan Louise AquileProfessor in the Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Sciences at the Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, University of the South Pacific (University of São Paulo); Andrea Basilarpresident of the Brazilian Sleep Association (ABS); Claudia ChangPostdoctoral Fellow in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at FMUSP (Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo), a member of SBEM (Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism); Christina SalesResponsible for the Sleep Medicine Service at the University Hospital Professor Edgard saints (Hubes-UFBA/see him) and an assistant professor at EBMSP (the school Bahiana medicine and public health).

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