Melatonin is a natural hormone made in the human body to induce and maintain sleep. Many people who have sleep disorders take supplements containing this hormone, with varying effects. New research suggests that a unique formulation called pulsatile-release melatonin may be the answer to the sleep woes of many people.
How Your Body Releases Melatonin
Best known for its role in sleep, melatonin is released by the pineal gland of the brain when our eyes stop sensing light. This hormone has powerful effects on our bodies, helping us to fall asleep as well as performing a variety of critical functions in human cells.
One of the most important regulators of the circadian rhythm, melatonin has been proven to help people sleep. However, its actions are not as simple as we previously believed. Melatonin has a very short half-life, with half of the hormone already metabolized and out of the bloodstream after just twenty minutes. As a result, it is not released just once through the night, but rather in several waves.
Melatonin is released in an initial spike, with a great deal hitting the bloodstream at once when the body perceives that it is time to sleep. After this, melatonin is released at lower levels throughout the night, helping to maintain our sleep cycles. This ensures steady melatonin levels throughout the night until the hormone naturally falls in preparation for awakening.
This natural pattern of melatonin release is not duplicated by the average supplement. This may be why some people with sleep disorders find that supplements do not completely resolve their sleep issues. Could it be time for a new type of melatonin supplement?
Different Formulations of Melatonin
Until recently, there were two primary types of melatonin supplements: fast-release and slow-release. Fast-release supplements release a burst of melatonin into the bloodstream, mimicking the initial pulse of melatonin that occurs when we are about to fall asleep. Because melatonin has such a short half-life, levels begin to fall immediately. Within two hours, the melatonin from fast-release supplements will have left your bloodstream completely. As a result, many people will begin to toss and turn or to awaken far before they have gotten enough sleep.
Slow-release (or extended-release) melatonin is another popular option. Slow-release melatonin supplements are formulated so that the hormone is released slowly into the bloodstream over several hours. This happens in a slow and steady fashion, without the initial spike in melatonin that occurs naturally and triggers the onset of sleep. Although this slow and steady release pattern can be helpful for people who struggle to stay asleep, it will not make it easier to fall asleep in the first place.
Although both formulations of melatonin can be helpful to people with certain types of sleep disorders, neither completely replicates the way melatonin is naturally released in the body every night. In order to fall asleep and remain asleep, people need an initial burst of the hormone followed by lower levels throughout the night. A new form of melatonin supplement — pulsatile-release melatonin — offers a better answer for insomnia and other circadian disorders.
Could Pulsatile-Release Melatonin Be the Answer?
Pulsatile-release melatonin supplements release an initial burst of melatonin immediately, followed by other pulses or melatonin released over the next seven to eight hours. This gives enough melatonin initially for people to fall asleep along with ongoing supplementation to keep them asleep. The goal of the pulsatile-release delivery system is to maintain melatonin levels at a certain level throughout the night in order to most closely mimic the body’s natural (healthy) melatonin release pattern.
People using a pulsatile-release melatonin supplement reported greater improvement of sleep disorders than when melatonin was taken in other forms. They were able to fall asleep more easily and then sleep soundly throughout the night. The effects of pulsatile-release melatonin are especially noticeable when it’s taken at the same time of evening every night. Because melatonin has such a short half-life, most people will have no morning grogginess as long as they take their supplement before midnight.
Natural Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Despite so many people suffering from circadian disorders, modern medicine has few answers. Most sleep medications have extreme side effects and only work for a few nights before users develop a tolerance. The best way to approach issues with sleeping is to treat the underlying causes, which requires a more natural approach. Try the following natural remedies for sleep disorders:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night.
- Turn off lights, including televisions and smartphones, a half-hour before bedtime.
- Keep a dark and quiet bedroom.
- Take a melatonin supplement before bed, particularly a pulsatile-release formulation.
Getting a good night of sleep is essential to leading a healthy and happy life. There are many natural ways to help achieve this. Pulsatile-release melatonin is a new and natural option to help you get the sleep you need.