Video: Does melatonin do anything?

May 10, 2018, American Chemical Society
Credit: The American Chemical Society

Melatonin is a widely used supplement. Many people turn to the hormone hoping it will improve their sleep, but do claims of its efficacy have any merit?

Clinical evidence suggests that the benefits of melatonin are modest, and it may not help everyone. And there's little to stop supplement makers from selling you .

Reactions explains the chemistry of this popular sleep aid:

Explore further: Melatonin may help you sleep

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not rated yet May 10, 2018
Claim: poor bioavailability is a deficit. Reality: It's a hormone and produced by the body in ridiculously small quantities. During sleep, blood values are around 50 picograms per ml. With a total blood volume of 5 liters, that's a total blood melatonin load of 250,000 picograms, i.e. about 0.00025 milligrams. Compare this to the typical melatonin pill containing 1-10 milligrams. Many studies have suggested doses of this size are actually too large. The low bioavailability is what is preventing massive overdoses. The video goes on to mention a study that suggests lower doses are better, at least for the elderly, as if they wanted to undercut their own low bioavailability argument. The video states that melatonin is used to "help you sleep" and completely avoids important details. Melatonin is actually used to help shift WHEN you sleep, and will be far more effective if the timing of your sleep cycle is disturbed (jet lag, shift work, too much blue light in the evening, etc.).

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