A quality restful night sleep is essential to maintaining our health. A healthy sleep pattern seems to be harder and harder to achieve in a ‘modern’ lifestyle. Melatonin production, the hormone that helps with restoration of the body’s natural circadian rhythm can be suppressed by many factors and results in difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland. Its main function is to regulate the body’s daily rhythms controlling sleep and waking. Melatonin is produced in daylight and released in darkness. Exposure to light emitted from computers, television, and other sources of artificial lighting can suppress the release of this hormone and cause trouble sleeping.

Melatonin production decreases with aging and can be impaired by medication, stress, as well as exposure to bright light in the evening or minimal light during the day. Shift work also disrupts melatonin production in the body. Melatonin is used to stimulate sleep. It has been used successfully in people suffering from jetlag, the effects of shift work, cases of insomnia accompanying menopausal changes, depression, children suffering from sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients.

In addition to helping people to sleep or restoring the natural sleep wake cycle, melatonin also regulates the production of the female reproductive hormones. Melatonin is also known to be a powerful antioxidant and can scavenge some dangerous free radicals. Studies done on shift workers and cabin crews have shown that they are at an increased risk of cancer. Other studies have shown that melatonin can help in the prevention and management of some cases of cancer due to its antioxidant and detoxification properties.

To help increase natural melatonin production, eating tryptophan rich foods can help as tryptophan (an amino acid) is a precursor to melatonin. Eyes should be exposed to sunlight during the day (not hiding behind sunglasses or glass windows). Sleeping in a completely dark room is also essential to allow for the release of melatonin.

High stress levels should be avoided as they increase cortisol production and inhibit melatonin release. Avoiding bright lights as those emitted from computers and television in the evening or minimising those exposures is also an important measures. If the use of computers late in the evening is inevitable, some alteration to the amount and type of light emitted can be done through accessing special web sites. If all those measures fail, melatonin supplementation can help.

Melatonin capsules and oils can be used to treat a melatonin deficiency. Melatonin is chemically identical to the melatonin produced in our bodies. In New Zealand , Melatonin is a prescription only product however many practitioners may not be aware of it.

Please feel free to contact us should you require any additional information about Melatonin and where to obtain it in New Zealand, by phone 0800 HORMONE (NZ) or email