Our daily sleep/wake cycle is regulated by our “circadian rhythm”,
the physical, mental and behavioral changes in our body that follow
roughly a 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness
in our environment. The pineal gland at the base of the brain releases
the sleep hormone, melatonin, when it gets dark, and suppresses
production in the daytime. Older people can have problems sleeping
because their melatonin levels are low.
Studies have shown that a melatonin supplement can help reset the
internal clock disrupted because of travelling and jet leg, daylight
savings time, shift work, or change in daily routine. It can also help
counteract the stress hormone cortisol as cortisol is not being released
during production of melatonin and in presence of adequate sleep
hormone levels at night. Melatonin is non-addictive and does not
produce the “hangover” effect of many sleep-aid drugs.