Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain helping regulate other hormones and maintaining the body’s circadian rhythm which is your internal 24 hour “Clock”. When it is dark, you produce more melatonin and its production drops when it is light. This is why during the shorter days of winter your body makes it either earlier or later in the day than usual. This change can lead to symptoms of seasonal effective disorder (SAD), or winter depression.
Natural levels drop as we age with older adults making very small amounts or possibly none at all. Young children have the highest levels of nighttime melatonin. Jet lag and shift work will make it seem like your clock is off. It’s possible to “reset” that clock by supplementing with melatonin.
There are studies that show it to also be an antioxidant, possibly strengthening your immune system. Research is also being conducted in its role in slowing down the aging process and slowing down or stopping the spread of cancer, particularly breast cancer.
It is readily available OTC (Over the Counter) at many health food stores, vitamin shops, etc. Do your research and if necessary, consult with your doctor with any concerns or questions as it may have interactions with other medications you may be taking. Normally healthy people can start off by taking 1 mg an hour before bedtime. Increase dosage by 1 mg at a time if needed, up to a safe level for your body. Always start off with the lowest dose first.
As with most things, there could be side effects, vivid dreams being one of them, so be sure to educate yourself on anything potential which may concern or affect you.