A bad night’s sleep is something all of us have experienced. The impact it has on our ability to function the next day can be disastrous.
Many people who struggle to sleep, whether that's due to a sleep disorder like insomnia, or because they are simply too stressed, turn to sleep medication to help them get some ZZZs.
While this may do the trick in the short term, they are often accompanied by a number of unwanted side effects.
Melatonin is a hormone that tells us it’s time to sleep. Taking this as a supplement can help us drift off more naturally and can help treat sleep problems. But with so many different choices out there, and so many different forms of melatonin, which should you take?
We’re here to lend a helping hand. In this article, find out everything you need to know about sleep and melatonin and read the pros and cons of melatonin gummies vs pills.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
Getting enough sleep every night is incredibly important for our health. It is as essential as eating and drinking! Sleep allows our cells to repair and regrow, helping the brain and body restore themselves so that we wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
We may think that during sleep our brain “switches off”, when in fact it is working hard to store new information from the day, process memories, and get rid of toxic waste.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
We’ve all experienced the effects of sleep deprivation at some point in our lives, so will be familiar with the exhausting "walking zombie" feeling.
A lack of sleep not only makes us feel sleepy and unmotivated but can also impact many aspects of brain function including learning, concentration, and memory1.
Sleep is also closely linked to immune function. If you don’t get enough of it, your immune system cannot work at optimal capacity, increasing your risk of illness and disease.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that signals to the body that it's nighttime and time to hit the hay. It is commonly known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin is released in a daily circadian rhythm, with peak levels occurring at night, and lower levels in the daytime to promote wakefulness.
Circadian rhythms are essentially our body’s internal clock that runs in 24-hour cycles, signaling to us when it's time to sleep, wake and eat, etc.
Melatonin works in tandem with our body clock and helps keep it on track. It does this by responding to daily light fluctuations. When low light levels are detected by the eyes at night, a signal is sent via the optic nerve to the pineal gland to stimulate the production of melatonin.
When melatonin is released, it doesn’t knock us out for the count completely but promotes feelings of sleepiness by binding to receptors in the body to help us relax and reduce nerve activity. It also suppresses dopamine, a hormone that promotes feelings of pleasure, and wakefulness and is involved in regulating circadian rhythms2.
Many people who have trouble falling asleep and suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia have low levels of melatonin. Exposure to light during nighttime can also hinder the production of melatonin and make it difficult to get to sleep.
Shift workers, for example, may suppress their melatonin production and alter their circadian rhythms by working during the night.
Taking a melatonin supplement can help treat sleep problems and ensure you get a better night’s rest. This can be especially beneficial for those with sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep-wake disorder and insomnia, which make falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up, a real challenge.
There is strong scientific evidence that taking melatonin supplements before bedtime decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increases the total amount of sleep3. No more tossing and turning!
Health problems such as respiratory diseases, obesity, and mental health disorders can also affect our ability to sleep properly at night. Evidence suggests that melatonin supplements can improve sleep quality in people with various diseases4.
We all love jetting off on holiday to a new and exciting destination. But if we stray too far from our usual time zone, our body clocks get all out of whack. This is what’s known as jetlag. It’s no fun arriving and being totally exhausted all day, yet wide awake at night.
A similar effect is experienced for shift workers who have to catch up on sleep during the day. Melatonin is known to help reduce the effects of jet lag by helping sync your body clock with new time zones 5. It can also help shift workers get to sleep during the daytime and alter their sleeping patterns.
How to Take Melatonin
Melatonin supplements are available in different forms, but most commonly come as tablets or gummies. How you decide to take them is largely down to personal preference, but there are pros and cons to each.
- Taste good
- Chewable and easy to take for those that struggle to swallow pills
- More suitable for children
- Fast absorption
- Contain sugar
- Contain artificial colors and flavors
- Contain other additives that can affect digestion
- Easy to take more than the recommended dose - as they taste so nice!
- Often contain high doses which can cause morning grogginess
Longer shelf life
No synthetic additives
No sugar, artificial colors, or flavors
Less morning grogginess
Can be difficult to swallow for some people
Require drinking water which some people try to avoid before bed
Take longer to absorb
The Bottom Line
Sleep is essential for our bodies to restore themselves and for us to function properly the next day. A lack of sleep not only makes our life difficult but can also harm our brains and increase the risk of diseases.
Many people struggle with getting to sleep every night. Often this is due to low levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone that tells us it’s time to go to bed.
Taking a melatonin supplement is scientifically proven to help you get a better night’s sleep and can be used as a treatment for a number of sleep problems.
Melatonin supplements come in a variety of different forms, most commonly as pills or gummies. While there are pros and cons to each form, above all it is more important to choose a high-quality supplement that is GMP certified and contains quality ingredients.
Performance Lab Sleep provides a low dose of natural melatonin from Montmorency tart cherry, to help you awaken revitalized with no groggy after-effects.
With three forms of magnesium for sleep–supportive muscle relaxation, this cleverly designed formula helps you fall asleep faster and get plenty of deep sleep. Performance Lab Sleep is GMP certified, vegan-friendly, and contains no synthetic additives!
- Krause, Adam J., et al. "The sleep-deprived human brain." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 18.7 (2017): 404-418.
- Ostrin, Lisa A. "Ocular and systemic melatonin and the influence of light exposure." Clinical and experimental optometry 102.2 (2019): 99-108.
- Li, Tian, et al. "Exogenous melatonin as a treatment for secondary sleep disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Frontiers in neuroendocrinology 52 (2019): 22-28.
- Fatemeh, Gholami, et al. "Effect of melatonin supplementation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Journal of neurology (2021): 1-12.