Age Wise

Should You Take Melatonin to Help You Sleep?

The hormone supplement can be effective for certain sleep problems, but not others

Robert Roy Britt
Published in
7 min readFeb 16, 2022

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Photo: Unsplash/Debashis RC Biswas

Suzanne Bertisch used to take melatonin supplements now and then to help her get to sleep when transitioning from night-shift to day-shift work or to combat jet lag. For anyone considering melatonin as a remedy for sleeping problems, she advises such “strategic” use of the hormone, and cautions that it is not a cure-all for sleep issues.

Bertisch should know. She’s a medical doctor, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and director of behavioral sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Melatonin can be helpful in certain cases, such as time-zone transitions, for people who stay up late on weekends but need to get back on track for Monday morning, or for individuals whose internal clocks are otherwise out of sync with the demands of modern society, Bertisch explains. It is not recommended for chronic insomnia, however.

How melatonin works

Melatonin is produced naturally by the brain’s pineal gland and also, in lesser amounts, in the retina. The hormone helps regulate your internal clock, a daily cycle known as circadian rhythm. The sun serves as the…

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB