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Melatonin
Old 11-13-2007, 04:09 PM   #1
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Melatonin

I recall seeing a book a few years ago called something like "The Melatonin Miracle" or something along those lines. It was written by a group of doctors in Virginia, and likened Melatonin to a fountain of youth. Of course this angle has been attributed to many substances, none of which have turned back the clock.

I use melatonin occasionally to shut off an overactive mind, especially when I've had a coffee, and to occasionally reset my internal clock. Your body makes melatonin, and supposedly makes less as you age. Considering that commercial supplements are made from tryptophan, and a big dose of tryptophan is coming to many people on Thanksgiving, I wondered what folks might have to say.

Does anyone take Melatonin? How and why? And does anyone eat turkey on purpose for the tryptophan?
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:52 PM   #2
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I've taken melatoin when I've travelled to Europe .It seems to reset my internal clock and I don't suffer from jet lag .
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:18 PM   #3
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I have taken it. It does not do much for me. Maybe will help onset of sleep, but wears off quickly. Never taken it for jet lag.
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:49 PM   #4
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I used it somewhat successfully for many years. I seemed to develop an immunity to it every few months and would have to take some time away from it.

Some brands worked better than others, some with 1mg of melatonin were more effective on me than the same brand at 3mg, but if I broke the 3mg ones in half those worked better.

Valerian also worked great for me for exactly one month. I slept like a baby for 8 hours, woke refreshed and had almost no after effects. And then it never worked again. I tried a dozen brands of differing strength but nothing. Bupkus.

After many years of experimenting to resolve pretty severe insomnia, I settled on 1mg melatonin, a benedryl and an alleve to give me about 5 hours of okay sleep, that stopped working for a week or so every now and then...I tried all the prescription meds and stuck on Lunesta.

I read an article a few years ago that tested OTC products to help defeat jet lag and they chose a product called Calms Forte, which I've found in the herb section of many pharmacies, health food stores and even walmart. I tried it and it was modestly effective and would probably be a nice herbal alternative for occasional light insomnia.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:33 PM   #5
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DH and I both use Calms Forte if we have to get to sleep for a super early event of whatever sort. Also worked to sedate the cats in the car when we moved. No side effects. Haven't tried melatonin.
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Old 11-13-2007, 09:41 PM   #6
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How is Melatonin taken for JetLag? Take it after you land? In the air? When you want to sleep?
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:00 PM   #7
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Melatonin (0.2 or 0.3mg) has been shown to have some benefit for jet lag (after crossing 5 time zones) if you take it at bedtime at the destination. Probably good to take it for 3 or 4 days after, too.

It also seems to help with frequent awakenings related to age, same doses, taking a drug holiday for a week or two regularly.

Unfortunately, it has not been shown to improve dementia or most other conditions. Higher doses seem to bring no more benefit and might "desensitize" the various receptors in the brain.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:25 AM   #8
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In my experience, melatonin solves about 1/2 the jet lag problem. You take it to make yourself drowsy when you go to bed. It's effects (for me) last 2-3 hours. If I wake up in the middle of the night (very common when traveling overseas, esp. in the first few night), then I take another if there is at least 3-4 hours left in the night -- otherwise, its effects will linger into morning and I'll be groggy -- not so much fun when doing on-the-go touristizing.

The other important thing for jet lag is to try to doze on the plane. For me, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) works very well. It's not real good sleep, but a lot better than nothing. When flying to Europe, I usually eat in the airport before boarding, take a Benadryl as I get on, and try to sleep the entire flight. If I wait to eat and settle in, that's 2 hours gone, and the flight is only 7 hours -- won't get enough sleeping in.

As to 'fountain of youth' -- how many times have we heard that about various concoctions? My skepticism dial is turned to 11.
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Old 11-14-2007, 09:17 AM   #9
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I do a lot of long distance international travel (both for work and play) and have frequently used melatonin to "reset" my internal clock. Rather than doing anything complicated, I simply take 3mg when I want to fall asleep. Seems to work reasonably well.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:30 AM   #10
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I was a melatonin believer for a number of years, but I've concluded that it's only benefit for helping with sleep in general is as a placebo.

DW and I first used it when traveling to Sweden, and it's true that the very first night we were there we took melatonin and slept right through the night. Maybe it helped or maybe it was a coincidence.

We started taking it to help fall asleep. I was convinced that 10 minutes after taking it, I'd get this nice sleepy feeling, especially in my legs. But after a while I realized that I would get that same feeling even if I didn't take it, and other times I'd take it and still have trouble falling asleep. Haven't taken it since, and sleep fine without it.

DW is still a believer and takes half a pill now and then.

I tried to convince DD to do a science project on it, giving us placebos some nights and melatonin others, and each morning have us describe the quality of our sleep. She chose something else.

Quote:
I used it somewhat successfully for many years. I seemed to develop an immunity to it every few months and would have to take some time away from it.
I'm not saying it doesn't work on bunnies, but this is typical of placebo effects. That is, after a while subjects will feel that something has stopped working or works differently.

Interesting thing from sleep book I read: In one study the subjects fell asleep more quickly if they were told to try to stay awake.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:38 AM   #11
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P.S. The attraction of melatonin can be summed up like this: Older people have trouble sleeping, and older people produce less melatonin. So take melatonin and you'll sleep like a young person.

But in the book I just read (The Sleep Rx), the author makes the case that older people sleep less well because they are less active, physically and mentally, than young people.
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:18 AM   #12
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I used to take it in the Marines when I did not get much sleep, it would make 3-4 hours of sleep feel like 8 hours and seemed to put me in REM sleep very fast.
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:43 PM   #13
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I dont think I'm very susceptible to the placebo effect. I've had lifelong total insomnia and have tried so many things its my presumption that they wont work and delight when they did. When costco quit carrying the 1mg melatonin that was working for me and started selling 3mg, my reaction was "great, this oughta work even better". But then it didnt work. Seems almost a reverse placebo effect?

Ambien worked but either made me intolerably grumpy (shaddap!) or horribly depressed the next day. The stuff from the commercial with abe lincoln and the beaver did very little, although I later discovered that its basically a modified melatonin in that it stimulates the same receptors. Knowing that it was basically a better version of what worked for me at least a little, I tried it again and it again did nothing. (ramelteon?).

Trazodone has some good effect for putting me to sleep for about 3 hours and its well regarded by the doctors that I've talked to.

One time I forgot to take the lunesta but was certain I did. Three hours after I went to bed I was still counting off into the 32000 things on my things to do list. I thought for sure I must have forgotten to take it even though I remembered getting it out of the bottle. I even got the bottle out and counted the pills and sure enough, I didnt have one extra. After not really sleeping at all I got up and later that day found the pill on the edge of the tv stand where I set it the night before.
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Old 11-14-2007, 05:10 PM   #14
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I've tried melatonin as well with mediocre results.

For jet lag (more than a couple of time zones) I've found that some exercise like a fast walk or swim, followed by a glass of single malt does the trick.

Also tricking bio clock by matching meal times to new zone a few hours before I get there helps.
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Old 11-14-2007, 05:41 PM   #15
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How big is this 'glass' exactly?
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Old 11-14-2007, 05:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
How big is this 'glass' exactly?


Maybe the glass size should be commensurate with the number of time zones crossed?

In reality - the glass is politely sized. Sadly, anything more than one drink actually disrupts my sleep more than it enhances.
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Old 11-14-2007, 07:03 PM   #17
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I've had lifelong total insomnia and have tried so many things
Knowing you, I assume you've done some major research on the topic. If not, check out that book I mentioned.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
But in the book I just read (The Sleep Rx), the author makes the case that older people sleep less well because they are less active, physically and mentally, than young people.
This statement is not at odds with melatonin working as a sleep aid for the elderly.

There still has to be some biochemical cause (or causes) for lessened activity to cause poorer sleep. Just as saying "more exercise causes bigger muscles" is true, but incomplete as an explanation -- there is a host of changes flowing from the exercise to cause the accretion of chemicals (proteins etc.) that build muscles -- it's not a mystic process.

In the brain, things are complicated. So it is perfectly plausible (even likely) that melatonin has an overtly observable effect in some people and not in others. And that habituation differs between people. What is one person's perfectly true and valid story of their experience doesn't necessarily apply to everyone -- in drugs as in most other facets of living.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:40 PM   #19
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Knowing you, I assume you've done some major research on the topic. If not, check out that book I mentioned.
Oh hell yeah. Young and old, at vastly different weight points, diets, exercise levels, working and not working, wealthy and poor, in and out of relationships, special isolation sleeping areas, relaxation techniques, yada yada yada.

All with the same results. The sleep specialists say "well, there are some people that just cant turn off the brain".

Unfortunately, I need the Chuck Norris of sleeping aids.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:47 PM   #20
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All with the same results. The sleep specialists say "well, there are some people that just cant turn off the brain".
Bodian, Meditation for Dummies. Skip the stuff you recoil from, pay attention to the rest. Use it during the day, not for sleep. Get it going. Takes 6 months. You'll either sleep better at night or you'll get real comfortable with whatever static sleep pattern you were wired for.
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