Thursday, February 26, 2009
Your body has its own internal clock that helps regulate your natural cycle of sleeping and waking. A hormone called melatonin plays a part in this cycle, as Dr. Edward Hill explains in todayís 60 Second Housecall.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of melatonin are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits and vegetables.
Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the evening, remain high for most of the night, and then decline in the early morning hours.
Natural melatonin production is affected by light exposure. Levels decline gradually with age. Some older adults produce very small amounts of melatonin or none at all.
Melatonin is available as a dietary supplement and is used to treat jet lag or sleep problems.
Melatonin dietary supplements are generally safe for short-term use, though children and pregnant or nursing women should not take them without a physicianís approval.
The appropriate dosage of melatonin varies widely from one person to another. If you have difficulty with sleep, your physician can help determine if melatonin is right for you.
For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.