What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is made by the pineal gland. This vital gland is located in the middle of your brain.
Melatonin is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid. According to studies, a melatonin supplement will last in your body for about 5 hours. You can get additional melatonin from over-the-counter pill or naturally from melatonin-rich foods like tart cherries and cherry juice.
Why Do People Need Additional Melatonin?
Melatonin supplements are a sleep aid. Many people need them to help regulate their circadian rhythm. Check out some of the reason people take melatonin supplements:
- Travelers with jet lag
- Swing shift workers
- People with dementia
- People who are blind
'So let's learn more about melatonin and the best time to get additional melatonin into your body.
How Does Melatonin Work?
The pineal gland naturally produces melatonin nightly. It is produced when your body is exposed to darkness. Melatonin controls your circadian rhythm. Basically, levels of melatonin increase at night and you feel tired. As the sun rises, the melatonin levels in your body naturally begin to decrease. This is way you wake up in the morning.
Now let’s look a little closer how your body works tirelessly to produce melatonin nightly. The pineal gland often referred to as your “Third Eye”. It is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. The SCN is comprised of a group of neurons, also called nerve cells. Basically, this specific group controls your body clock. Your body and brain are truly an amazing organic machine.
During the day, your pineal gland isn’t producing any melatonin. The reason is during the day, the retina in your eyes are sending "stop" signals to your SCN. The SCN interprets this information and tells the pineal gland to stop making melatonin.
At night the opposite happens. As darkness approaches, your “Third Eye” receives signals from your retina and instructs the pineal gland to start producing melatonin.
How Long Does It Take Melatonin to Work?
Melatonin is a water-based antioxidant. This means it can penetrate both water and fat cells. Thus, melatonin is quickly absorbed into the body. According to published research, it takes about an hour to reach peak levels. It is during this time you should begin to feel sleepy.
Where to Get Melatonin?
You can either get over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid or from a natural source. A number of different brands of melatonin can be found in your local drugstore or pharmacy. The supplements are available in pill, liquid, or chewable forms.
Or, you can get melatonin from a natural source. The natural source of melatonin is the first choice for many seeking a natural sleep aid. Here is a list of the top foods containing natural melatonin.
Top Sources of Naturally Occurring Melatonin
- Tart Cherry Juice – 85 nanograms per serving. Tart Cherries are natures top source of naturally occurring melatonin.
- Walnuts – 2.5 to 4.5 nanograms per gram
- Sunflower seeds – 2.5 to 4.5 nanograms per gram
- Cucumbers - 4 nanograms per gram
Natural food sources of melatonin are one of best ways to get this powerful antioxidant into your body. The reason is eating healthy food is a lot better than taking a bunch of synthetic ingredients in pill form.
That is why many turn to drinking a glass of Tart Cherry Juice before bed to enjoy the natural melatonin contained in each great tasting and healthy serving.
How Much Cherry Juice Should You Drink?
Here is a quick infographic on how much cherry juice to drink.
However, you can always mix the ounce of the cherry concentrate with 4 ounces of water for a stronger cherry flavor or dilute it more. For example, mix in 10 ounces of water with the cherry concentrate.
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