The Many Faces of Melatonin - Part 1

It’s bedtime, and all you want to do is get to sleep. But, your mind is racing. You fret over the day’s experiences, and feel agitated, irritated, and restless. The clock is ticking; you know just how many hours are left of the night. You exhaust yourself with worry. Finally, relief comes and you drift off to sleep. Sleep, glorious sleep. Then, without warning and for no apparent reason, you are awake... again. Your mind begins to race; you worry about how tired you will feel when the alarm clock shrills. Sound familiar? You have insomnia.
Insomnia is on the rise in America. Job, financial, family and relationship stresses, even global worries now permeate our lives to such a degree that, according to statistics, only a third of us are getting anywhere near enough sleep.
Insomnia can be so debilitating that those who suffer from it often resort to either a prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid. Sleep aids can provide effective, temporary relief, but some of them, benzodiazepines for example, are habit-forming drugs.
The hormone melatonin is known chiefly for its role as a sleep aid. Ample data substantiates that melatonin can induce sleep. Sixty percent of those who try melatonin report improved sleep quality, falling asleep faster, and staying asleep longer. In addition, timed-release melatonin has been shown to help patients wean themselves off of habit-forming sleeping pills.
However, research indicates that melatonin may be more than a sleep aid. New studies indicate that melatonin helps regulate a number of biological processes, including circadian rhythms, sleep, mood, reproduction, tumor growth, degenerative brain diseases, and aging.
Experimental evidence suggests that melatonin inhibits the growth of breast cancer tumors in animals and humans.
In this Hormonal Update we take a look at the many faces of melatonin.

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