Why Melatonin Matters — and for Far More Than a Good Night’s Sleep

Quick – let’s play a little word association game. When you hear the word “melatonin,” what comes to mind? Sleep? Rest? Bedtime? All of the above? Those are the answers that would come to mind for most of us. Melatonin is a commonly used dietary supplement, particularly for sleep.*  

But there’s a lot more to this supplement than sleep – even though that’s why most of us seek it out. Melatonin can support plenty of other aspects of your health and well-being, too.* Let’s look at why melatonin matters, and why we chose to include it in our Hello Dreams™ sleep strips along with our Calm DownTM herbal blend.

melatonin is great for more than just sleep; a woman reading in bed

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is often taken as a dietary supplement, but our bodies also produce it. Melatonin is a hormone that’s mainly tasked with maintaining our sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. The pineal gland, a pea-size gland deep in the brain, releases more melatonin later in the day, when it starts to get darker, to signal to our body and mind that it’s time to start winding down for the day.  

Tip: Your body starts to produce melatonin about two hours before you head to bed, so work with your body’s natural rhythm and help yourself wind down. Turn down the lights, avoid screens if possible and save the stressful activities or suspenseful movies for another time. Do all you can to keep your evenings peaceful, quiet and slow.  

Tryptophan is an amino acid (those are the building blocks of protein) that is found in certain foods. Your body converts it into a molecule called 5-HTP, which it then uses to make serotonin (aka the happy hormone) and melatonin.  

In addition to dietary supplements, melatonin is also found in certain foods, including:  

  • Eggs  
  • Fish  
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Tart cherries
  • Certain types of mushrooms
  • Legumes

However, it can be hard to determine the exact bioavailability of melatonin in foods and gauge whether we’re getting enough when we want it.  

Melatonin production is impacted by exposure to light. When we stare at our screens until the moment our head hits the pillow (and sometimes even after we’re tucked under the covers) or we reach for our phones when we awaken long before dawn and can’t get back to sleep, it interferes with our natural 24-hour internal clock. And things like shift work, parenting (with all those middle-of-the-night wake-ups) and travel across time zones can also impact our sleep-wake cycle and our natural production of melatonin. As we age, our bodies reduce production of melatonin. Children produce the most melatonin (and need the most sleep), while older adults produce the least amount of the sleep hormone.

person working late at night

Melatonin and Sleep* 

When it comes to sleep, that’s how melatonin works naturally. But what about supplements? Does the science support taking it as a supplement? A 2013 meta-analysis published in the journal PLoS One compared melatonin supplements to placebos. The researchers looked at 19 randomized, placebo-controlled trials with 1,683 participants (both adults and children).  

While they called the effects of melatonin on sleep “modest,” the researchers found that melatonin:  

  • decreased sleep onset latency, meaning melatonin shortened the amount of time it took for participants to shift from wakefulness to sleep.*  
  • increased total sleep time, so people who took the supplement slept longer overall compared with those who took a placebo.* 
  • improves overall sleep quality, meaning that taking melatonin supported a better night’s rest than a placebo.* 

Tip: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If you’re working on your sleep hygiene, pair up your supplements with small lifestyle shifts. Put down the screens, make your bedroom cozy and inviting for sleep, spritz your pillow with lavender, listen to sleep stories… whatever it takes to make healthy sleep a little easier!  

a woman sleeping with her head on a pillow

Why Else Do We Need Melatonin?  

Melatonin’s work isn’t done when you close your eyes and drift off to dreamland. This hormone serves other functions in the body, too. Since so many functions and processes in your body need to happen while you’re asleep, melatonin can play a direct or indirect role there, too.  

Here’s a look at a few that are proven by science.  

Antioxidant support*  

Melatonin offers antioxidant support for the body, meaning it helps reduce oxidative stress.* In addition, it helps support cellular health, by resisting apoptosis (that’s the scientific term for the end of a cell’s life cycle).  

Immune health* 

As a result of the antioxidant properties of melatonin, it can also support overall immune health.* While most of the trials are small, it has shown promise.* Plus, since sleep is the time your body naturally repairs your cells and tissues, you need quality healthy rest so your immune system can maintain your natural defenses. 

Mood*  

The shifts in season can impact the balance of mind and body. (Traditional Chinese Medicine offers detailed support for every season to help maintain equilibrium, with herbs, diet, lifestyle habits and more.) In studies, melatonin supplements have helped support a healthy mood amid seasonal changes in light.* 

Digestive health* 

Another surprising task on melatonin’s to-do list is managing acid secretions in the GI tract. In studies, melatonin offered support for heartburn.* 

Eye health* 

Likely because of the antioxidant support it offers, melatonin has shown promise in supporting eye health.* 

Likely because of the antioxidant support it offers, melatonin has shown promise in supporting eye health.* 

person sleeping with an eye mask on

Melatonin & Calm Down™ Herbal Blend 

Our Hello Dreams™ sleep strips include melatonin, with added herbs that have a rich history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. While melatonin is wonderful on its own, it can leave you feeling groggy if you take too much or take it at the wrong time. Plus, many supplements you can buy over the counter are poor quality.  

We chose to combine a potent, precise dose of melatonin with herbs that have been carefully crafted using the latest technologies and the highest safety standards. (We also test those herbs for more than 200 unwanted pesticides and use various methods of identity verification to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want – and nothing else!) 

By including herbs like Jujube Seed, Poria fungus and Licorice Root, Hello Dreams™ sleep strips helps you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up rejuvenated!* Melatonin eases you to sleep, while the herbs in Calm DownTM herbal blend quiet your mind and body for restorative rest.*