Most people have heard of melatonin, a hormone. Melatonin was one of the first substances the supplement market started playing with to help people fall asleep more easily. Unfortunately, this was like noticing that most sports cars were smaller than most sedans and deciding that making a car smaller would be the key to making it more exciting and fun to drive. If this sounds like good logic to you, Google the term “smart car.”
Nonetheless, melatonin can help some people get to sleep, some of the time, for a limited amount of time. Like driving a smart car around the block once or twice might be kind of fun? However, there is undeniable, and unequivocal data to suggest that melatonin will not help most people at any dose and will help very few people at physiologic doses. A physiologic dose is an approximation of how much your body would normally have in it, if everything were optimal (such as optimal nutrition, sleep, stress, other health promoting practices, and no nutritional deficiencies or disease).
This is an important concept and is of paramount importance for every ingredient in our sleep supplement. So, not only to explain my product, but to help guide your choices for any supplements, hormones, or medications, I will beat this drum a bit more in hopes of making the concept abundantly clear.
Look at testosterone, for example, the primary sex hormone in men and women (get your Google on). As we age, this hormone decreases—in both sexes. Testosterone has hundreds if not thousands of measurable biological effects that keep us healthy, happy, sane, muscular, lean, smart, ambitious, coordinated, and so on.
There has been a lot of research around the proper management of testosterone replacement or supplementation in humans. Of course, some people used testosterone in unapproved and illegal ways—which makes getting the unbiased science answers harder to find. But, one thing that we do know is this; if we give a man an injection of testosterone that is more than his body is used to having, several sub-optimal things happen.
First, our bodies are amazingly clever organisms, and they will quickly shift the use of any cells in our body if it is good for the survival of the organism. So, if your brain and body sense a big dose of testosterone in your bloodstream every few days, guess what your body is NOT going to waste any more resources producing? Testosterone. If you do this long enough, the ability for that body to produce testosterone EVER again (in significant/adequate amounts) is all but lost.
Secondly, if the body is used to producing 100 milligrams of per WEEK (about 12 milligrams per day) and it suddenly senses 100 milligrams in a few seconds, this will change how the body responds to the hormone. Almost everything that affects one’s physiology does it through some sort of association with a specific protein structure (either on the surface of cells, floating around inside of the cells, and in some cases, floating around in the bloodstream).
In this example, let’s pretend that the protein structures are shaped like a catcher’s mitt and the hormone (testosterone) is shaped like a baseball. If the baseballs need to get into the catcher’s mitt, for the cells to function optimally there would be an ideal amount of catcher’s mitts around. If you have decreased the number of baseballs drastically, the number of catcher’s mitts would have to increase drastically—to catch the same number of baseballs. Of course, this implies that not all baseballs get caught at any concentration.
So, what if we INCREASED the number of baseballs 10-fold? Naturally, this clever organism we call our bodies would quit producing so many catcher’s mitts. Why waste the time, resources, and energy to produce so many mitts, when there is such a ready supply of baseballs? This is known as “down-regulation of receptors,” and it occurs with an excess of almost everything that I know of. One of those things is melatonin. See, there was a point to that long metaphor.
Bombing your brain with an excess of melatonin might work for a little bit, for a few people, but it will run into the problem that I listed above. For anyone interested the phenomenon I was describing is called tachyphylaxis. Another fallacy in the logic of taking a bunch of melatonin to sleep is that melatonin is just one of hundreds (possibly thousands) of chemicals that change around sleep. Again, this is like making all cars smaller to improve the driving experience of cars.
I know there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the use of melatonin. As I mentioned in a previous blog, we put a tiny amount of Melatonin in the product. But not too much. Enough to get just a little bit in your brain as though your brain had already made it as if you still lived without electricity. Hopefully this explanation will help to put your mind at ease.