Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in the sleep-wake rhythm of our body. It makes us sleepy when it gets dark. Melatonin supplementation can help with falling asleep in some cases.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
A good night’s sleep is vital to health for many reasons. Some of these are specifically important for strength athletes/bodybuilders. During sleep, for example, the body repairs muscle tissues, the body produces growth hormone, testosterone levels rise and the value of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol is reduced.
Good sleep is therefore just as important for muscle growth as training and eating proteins. And for bodybuilders in the cut, sleep contributes to fat loss.
HOW MELATONIN WORKS
When it gets dark, melatonin production in our body increases. This then ensures that the production of other hormones is slowed down, so that the body enters the relaxation mode. When the melatonin decreases again, the other hormones are stimulated.
SUPPLEMENTATION WITH MELATONIN
Given the important role of melatonin in our body, it seems logical to offer melatonin as a supplement to improve sleep. But do they work?
If we look at the scientific literature, we can say that melatonin supplementation can bring about at least a small improvement in sleep.
However, melatonin is not an regular sleep aid. It actually only works in some situations, explains coach Menno Henselmans. Melatonin helps you fall asleep; it is not a sleep aid. To be more precise, melatonin helps regulate your sleep cycle.
This can be especially helpful for those with jet lag, those with irregular working hours, those with a circadian rhythm disorder, or if you want to go to bed earlier than usual.
In addition, melatonin supplementation can be useful if your natural production of melatonin is reduced because, for example, you spend a lot of time looking at screens late at night. Although it is better to minimize this so-called blue light in the hours before bedtime. Also pay attention to the other aspects of the so-called sleep hygiene. Many of those matters are in your own hands.
Melatonin is not intended for long-term daily use. Take it only in the specifications mentioned. Don’t take it if your night’s sleep is already in order.
OTHER FUNCTIONS OF MELATONIN
There are other benefits of melatonin, which you can consider to be a bonus. Those benefits include general neuroprotective effects, according to Examine.com, as melatonin is a potent antioxidant.
Melatonin also has several anti-cancer properties and is currently under investigation for its role in fighting breast cancer.
Supplementation with melatonin is also beneficial for eye health, may reduce tinnitus and improve mood (by helping you sleep better).
Melatonin doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on lean body mass or body fat. At least not in a direct sense, because improved sleep also improves fat burning.
There is no official recommended adult melatonin dosage, but a range of 0.5 milligrams to 5 milligrams appears to be safe and effective. Taking more melatonin is not useful.
Too much melatonin can have the opposite effect of its intended purpose. It can make it harder to sleep because your normal circadian rhythms are disrupted.
Taking melatonin with alcohol is also not recommended, because alcohol can disrupt your sleep quality and your natural melatonin levels.
TIME OF INGESTION
The best time to take melatonin is probably about an hour before bedtime. Your brain naturally increases melatonin production about an hour to two hours before you go to sleep, so taking melatonin at this time can ease the process.
Melatonin is a useful supplement if you have trouble falling asleep due to jet lag, irregular working hours, a disturbed circadian rhythm or if you want to go to bed earlier than usual. The drug is only effective to fall asleep, not to keep you at sleep.
Supplements with melatonin can also help with disturbed sleep due to exposure to blue light, but it is better to ensure that you do not look at screens much in the hours before bedtime.
Improved sleep is especially important for bodybuilders, because of the functions of sleep with regard to muscle growth and fat loss.