What it is, what it does

Content sponsored by Dr. Brijesh Chandwani, DMD

The pandemic has left many people tossing and turning before bed due to increases in both anxiety and screen time. It also sparked interest in melatonin as a sleep aid. So what is this “hormone of darkness”?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the center of the brain and regulates the body’s sleep cycles, or what is known as the circadian rhythm (body clock).

During the day light switches off the production of melatonin (source: www.natap.org). When the sun goes down, production of this hormone ramps up, signaling the brain that it’s time to sleep. It also plays other important roles in the body like enhancing muscle recovery and inhibiting cancer.

However, certain lifestyle habits and other factors can affect the body’s natural production of melatonin (estimated to be between 10 and 80 micrograms per night). One of them is exposure to artificial light – such as using devices far beyond the body’s normal bedtime or regular night shifts. Other factors that reduce melatonin production are age and obesity.

Melatonin supplements are now widely used to treat sleep disorders, primarily circadian rhythm sleep disorders and shift worker sleep disorders. Some use it to reduce symptoms of jet lag. But it’s also emerging as a beneficial therapy for certain people with migraines.

Migraine is a neurophysiological disorder of the trigeminal nerve (a main nerve for the lining of the face, jaw, and meninges) and other body structures. They are quite debilitating and can be triggered by poor sleep, stress, bright lights, loud noises, certain medications, altered sleep-wake cycles, etc. Melatonin supplementation may reduce migraines by improving sleep quality. Melatonin can also deactivate the hypothalamus, which is involved in the migraine mechanism.

Melatonin can replace traditional medication when sleep is the key factor (think middle of the night or early morning migraines, or in someone who has a circadian rhythm disorder). In addition, melatonin supplementation could increase the effectiveness of migraine medications.1

But it’s important to know when to take it because it can affect the outcome. For migraines and TMJ disorders, melatonin should be started at a dose of 3 mg two hours before bedtime and can be increased up to 10 mg.2

risk factors to consider

Mild side effects of melatonin include headache, dizziness, nausea, and daytime sleepiness.

  • Melatonin can interact with anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, antidiabetics and oral contraceptives.
  • Melatonin can interact with anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, antidiabetics and oral contraceptives.
  • It has been found that the melatonin content in available formulations is at least 10% below what is stated on the label of more than 70% of available melatonin supplements. Even in the same product, the melatonin content varied by up to 465%.3 It is best to get it from a reputable dealer.
  • Long-term use of melatonin may be associated with endocrine disruption. It is best used for two months at a time.

About dr chandwani

dr Chandwani is a Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist (TMJ Specialist) in Fairfield County. With a background in acupuncture and alternative medicine, he integrates Western and Eastern medicine into his practice.

dr Chandwani has offices in New York City and Norwalk. He can be reached at (203) 842-8658 or (347) 494-4618.

Visit tmdtmj.com for more information
Instagram: nyctmj.com

1 Kurdi MS, Patel T. The role of melatonin in anesthesia and critical care. Indian J Anaesth. 2013;57(2):137-144. doi:10.4103/0019-5049.111837.

2 Gelfand, AA, & Goadsby, PJ (2016). The role of melatonin in the management of primary headaches. Headache, 56(8), 1257-1266. https://doi.org/10.1111/head.12862.

3 Grigg-Damberger MM, Ianakieva D. Poor quality control of over-the-counter melatonin: what they say is often not what you get. J Clin Sleep Med. 2017 Feb 15;13(2):163-165. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6434. PMID: 28095978; PMC ID: PMC5263069. Copy Download .nbib

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