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Melatonin is a hormone which is produced in the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone regulates the sleep cycle in human beings and also plays a role in prevention of  other diseases like cancer.  Melatonin also occurs naturally in animals and vegetable products. Synthetic melatonin has been manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.

The production of  melatonin varies throughout the day. More melatonin is produced in the evening as we feel drowsy and the level of  melatonin production in the brain peaks at  about 2.00 a.m in the night. After that the melatonin level gradually falls off for the rest of  the night. Without the production of melatonin , people  find it difficult to feel sleepy. Studies have shown that taking melatonin supplements 20 to 40 minutes before going to bed will improve the quality of sleep.

 

Since the immune system in the body is repaired while a person sleeps, melatonin improves the immunity of  the person. Melatonin production is suppressed by the exposure to artificial lights and some researcher believe that this may be the reason for higher incidence of  cancer in developed countries where people sleep less. Lack of melatonin causes Alzheimer's disease and other age related disorders.

 

Melatonin is synthesized from tryptophan, an amino acid,  found in turkey and warm milk. Oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes and  bananas contain more than 450 picograms of  melatonin per gram of  food.  Melatonin supplements are used to treat people with jet lag and sleep disorders. Blind people are often unable to sleep well because they cannot perceive day and light, but the quality of  their sleep improved by taking melatonin supplements.



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