When most people think of melatonin, they think of a sleep aid, often added to calming tinctures and supplements to help adults and children fall and stay asleep. Melatonin supplements are usually a synthetic form of our body’s naturally occurring hormone, although they can also come from other organisms and animal products. The melatonin hormone helps control our circadian rhythm, which tells our body to be sleepy when it’s dark and awake in the day.
This is perhaps the most common benefit of melatonin, sleep support because sleep is fundamental to our health and wellbeing. Science agrees that adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep. Stress, anxiety, life events, and other experiences can lead to sleep difficulties that people may have, thus the reason people seek supplements and support.
So what sleep challenges can melatonin help with?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health lists jet lag, anxiety, and disorders like delayed sleep-wake phase disorder as some difficulties that melatonin supplements can help with. Additionally, it’s said to help children with ADHD or autism who often have challenges with sleeping.
However, sleep is not the only benefit of melatonin, as it’s been shown to have powerful antioxidant capabilities, and antioxidants are incredible in our body. MedicalNewsToday describes antioxidants as substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals and are linked to protection against heart attack, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular conditions. So the antioxidants in melatonin supplements can benefit our bodies by aiding in protecting these issues.
Science also shows that melatonin can help with neurodegenerative diseases and age-related brain diseases as well. The Sleep Doctor highlights several research articles that describe the importance melatonin has on our brains and its connection with Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, it can stop harmful proteins from accumulating in the brain.
Melatonin has also been shown to be helpful with diabetes and cancer. In regard to diabetes, healthy levels of it have been shown to potentially lower the risk of diabetes in half. Some research may suggest that it also helps regulate blood sugar.
The effect melatonin has on cellular health is what can prevent the onset and progression of cancer.
And benefits are continuously being researched, so more advantages are likely to be discovered in the future. For example, recent research is being done to find benefits in treating COVID-19; however, there is no conclusive data yet.