It is so common for us to have difficulty with sleeping as we get older. Many probably do not realize that melatonin, or the lack there of may have a lot to do with this. You see, as we hit puberty, our bodies typically start to produce less melatonin, and when we get to our latter years, we generally have negligible amounts being produced. This is probably the reason why the older generation commonly complains about not sleeping well, and generally having daytime fatigue. I know I hear this complaint from many of my geriatric patients. The production of melatonin tends to peak in early childhood, and would explain why our younger population and children are known to be such good, and long sleepers….I know mine are!
Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, and is typically known for helping to improve sleep quality. It is often times physician recommended as an OTC (over-the-counter) medicine for Parkinson’s patients, and many others who are having trouble sleeping or staying asleep at night. Melatonin also acts an important immune system modulator, and has been shown in a study published in the December 11, 2001, Biochemistry journal, to reverse the protein complex that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, melatonin inhibited the formation of amyloid beta proteins, which are toxic to our nerve cells and accelerate free radical damage to neurons. Further intriguing to note is that people with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have significantly lower levels of melatonin in their brains. As a result, some nutritionist recommend a melatonin supplement after the age of 45 to help in this regard, as well as to help induce a deeper level of sleep. Melatonin is sometimes also recommended to combat jet lag. Dosages, however, are recommended to help with sleep, but not produce morning drowsiness.
So if you find yourself having trouble with good quality sleep and rest at night, and also want to possibly reduce your risk of amyloid beta protein formation, I suggest you talk to your fellow physician or nutritionist, and see how melatonin may be able to best help you!!