Melatonin is a hormone that our brains produce when it gets dark, helping us regulate our internal clocks and circadian rhythms. Sometimes our brains don’t make quite enough, and many of us simply need a little extra help to get to sleep at one point or another.
Melatonin supplements can be helpful for insomnia by simply helping your body be ready to go to sleep. Similarly, it can be helpful for people with delayed sleep phase syndrome, who fall asleep and wake up on an internal schedule much later than most people. It has also shown to be helpful for jet lag and helping you adjust to a time zone very different from your own.
Some doctors encourage not just using melatonin as a cheat code to sleep. Making sure you are exposed to sunshine during the day helps your body know when to make its own melatonin. Turning down the lights a couple hours before bed and limiting screen time at night will also help your brain’s melatonin production. You may find after a few days of taking melatonin that you are able to fall asleep easily on your own again.
Like many supplements, melatonin is not for everyone. It is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a seizure disorder, or high blood pressure. Before you start taking melatonin, make sure you are not taking any medications that interact with melatonin. If you are having trouble sleeping, it is safest to talk to your doctor to make sure melatonin is a good choice for you.