Technology has truly made the world smaller. Because of it, we can now do business 365 days a year, anytime and anywhere we may be. Traveling by airplane is as easy as getting into your car and going for a drive. Unfortunately, this comes with a price. As we continue to live our lives in a world that no longer sleeps, more and more people are suffering from mild forms of sleep disorder. Because life for some has become a constant struggle to juggle the demands of an increasingly stressful and demanding schedule, sleep disorders can affect anyone regardless of age. Among those that suffer the most are shift workers, parents with both careers and young children, students, frequent travelers, and those who are working in the airline industry.

A sleep disorder, however mild, can cause potentially serious complications in any person’s health largely because it adversely affects the body’s immune system and leaving us vulnerable to illness. It also has emotional, mental, and psychological effects on a person who is sleep deprived, with behaviors ranging from irritability, loss of concentration and even depression. Sleep disorders can be dangerous for people who are driving or operating machinery because they may fall asleep suddenly or lose their concentration, causing an accident in the process.

Because of the health risks posed by sleep disorders, those who suffer from them often turn to medication as a means of relieving their sleeplessness. Although these drugs are effective and safe, some of them can be addictive, causing both physical and psychological dependence. Also, taking sleeping pills regularly for a mild sleep disorder or for jet lag can be overkill and cause more harm than good. This form of treatment does cause some side effects and may lose its efficacy with prolonged use. Coupled with the trend towards holistic, complimentary and alternative medicine, researchers began searching for other, more natural treatment options for mild sleep deprivation. This lead them to melatonin, a naturally occurring substance in the body. It is a hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain, and has been shown to play a major part in regulating sleep and in maintaining the circadian rhythm or the body clock. Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones by playing a part in determining when menstruation begins, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when menstruation ends (menopause).

Since the mid-1990s, melatonin sleep aid supplements were sold over the counter, and have become increasingly popular among those who are frequently jet lagged and those with mild sleep disorders. Most people who take these supplements report a decreased amount of time required to fall asleep, and increased number of sleeping hours and daytime alertness. Others also report waking up feeling refreshed and full of energy.

Although it may cause some side effects, these are all reversible and will be eased if melatonin sleep aid supplements are discontinued or the dose reduced. Among these side effects are changes in blood vessels that may affect blood flow, reduced sperm count, lowering of the body’s temperature (hypothermia), stomach problems, headache, depression, morning grogginess, and vivid dreams. It is not recommended for children, pregnant women, people who are driving or operating heavy machinery, and people with pre-existing conditions who are currently taking medication. Melatonin sleep aid supplements regularly, this should be done with the guidance of a medical practitioner. But with certain lifestyle changes, a good diet, regular exercise and a regular sleep schedule, it can be a great way to ease a mild sleep disorder.

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