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 Programs for Specific Health Conditions: Melatonin and Health  

Melatonin and General Health
People today have stressful lives. The importance of Melatonin cannot be understated if it can do what it proports to. It is estimated that one in four have trouble sleeping at some time. Most try to make up for it by sleeping in on weekends, but for many, to no avail.

Melatonin shows great promise for persons who are suffering from chronic diseases who may have psycholigical side effects of stress, worry, and trouble coping. Just getting a good night's sleep for many helps in the recovery process.

Health and fitness professionals should be familiar with the benefical and side effects of the use of melatonin. Knowledge of beginning and graduating doses are also recomended. The chart below highlights a suggested progression as to the use of melatonin by condition and time.

Chart I
Experimental use of Melatonin

Condition Timing
Introductory dose 3 mg. General 5-7 pm.
Moderate dose 200 mg. IV use - research evening
Large dose 300 mg. women's contraception study evening
High dose 3,000 mg toxicity study evening

The optimal dose seems to be between 100-500 mg. per day given in the evening prior to bedtime. Taking melatonin in the daytime may exacerbate light damage to receptors in the eyes. For safety sake, all tablets should be taken in the dusk or evening hours.

Increasing Melatonin Production
The following list are some common sense facts about melatonin productions. Following these suggestions may help increase the natural production during the course of the day.

1. Get more early light time. Sleeping in can blur the distinction between night and day and reduce the amplitude of general sleep/wake cycles.
2. Be physically active in the day and limit naps to no more than 30 minutes. Activity turns off melatonin production during the day and reasies core temperature.
3. Try morning workouts as opposed to afternoon. The pineal gland is like a clock which needs to be reset every day. Combining light and activity is the most effective way to reset this clock.
4. Avoid caffeine and limit alcohol in the evening.
5. Eat larger high protein meals in the day, and smaller carbohydrate meals in the evening. Carbohydrates promote the production and delivery of tryptophan to the brain, which is the raw material from which melatonin and serotonin are made. 6. Eat dinner several hours before bedtime. Digestions raises core temperature which is undesireable for sleeping.
7. Avoid hard mental or physical work after about 6 pm. Stress hormones indeuced by work interferes with the production of serotonin and melatonin.


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 About The Author
Eric Durak received his Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1986. His research experience is in the application of exercise for special population groups, such as diabetes, high risk pregnancy,......more
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