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Slow Release Melatonin: The Answer You're Looking For

Getting help with sleep using slow release melatoninDo you have problems falling asleep at night, or wake up during the night feeling as if you have an adrenalin rush, or with a panic attack, or even due to nightmares? These could be symptoms of neurotransmitter dysregulation. The quickest way to help you out of this predicament may be slow release melatonin.

But, this still leaves certain questions unanswered, such as why is this happening to me, what is neurotransmitter dysregulation, and what does slow release melatonin have to do with it?

Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

Regulation of sleep, in our body, can be greatly affected by neurotransmitters and hormones. These are brain chemicals that regulate the distribution of every thought process and control signal that is processed by the brain, and then forward the on to different glands, organs, nerves, etc. In other words, they tell your stomach to secrete digestive juices, your liver to detoxify the body, the adrenal glands to produce and secrete the hormones necessary to either fight or flee, and the heart to pump blood.

These neurotransmitters include the following hormones:

  • Serotonin: Helps to regulate your sleep cycle, helps the body process pain, and plays a role in mood, body temperature, appetite, and your sex drive. It is also a precursor hormone for melatonin, which is needed to sleep.
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenaline): Helps keep you alert and boosts your memory. It is also involved in the “fight or flight response” when your body feels it is under threat.
  • Dopamine: Helps make you ‘feel good’ when you have done something well. It also assists with focusing.
  • Other neurotransmitters include Glutamate, which stimulates the brain for learning and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) that calms you and keeps you relaxed.

When, for any reason, the proper functionality of these neurotransmitters is compromised, especially slow release melatonin, the sleep hormone, your sleep pattern is compromised as well. One of the main reasons for the dysregulation of your neurotransmitters is adrenal fatigue.

Conditions Associated with Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

There are a number of symptoms that those, who have this problem, encounter. The majority are also related to adrenal fatigue. They include:

  • Sleep disorders/insomnia
  • Anxiety/panic attacks
  • Depression/moodiness
  • Eating disorders, e.g. bulimia, anorexia, obesity
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • PMS
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Fibromyalgia

Common Causes of Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

The causes of each person’s dysregulation may be different or due to more than one factor. The most common factors include:


One needs a balanced diet containing the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids needed by the body in order to create the necessary neurotransmitters in order to function optimally. Where diet is lacking, an imbalance usually follows, compromising, amongst other things, your sleep patterns.

Stimulants and slow release melatonin


Stimulants derived from coffee, chocolate, and certain medications have an adverse effect on your neurotransmitters as they create a resistance to it. Selected glandular and herbs also can have stimulatory properties, including licorice, ashwagandha, maca, and green tea.


Many medications deplete your body’s serotonin/melatonin levels. Many of these medications are specifically prescribed to increase the brain’s levels of serotonin/melatonin, but in the long run, have the opposite effect. This is because, as the brain’s levels of these hormones are increased, the body works harder at metabolising them, causing a further decrease.


Lifestyle plays a huge role with regards to the production of your brain’s melatonin. Due to the fast-paced life we live today as compared to our great-grandparents, we are increasingly exposed to higher levels of stress and overworked. Stress plays an important role in melatonin production, while it has a huge effect on the general production of hormones throughout the body, most noticeably, at first, in the adrenal glands and brain.

Too much external stimuli

We are constantly bombarded by visual and auditory stimuli. It is everywhere around us, from motorcars to television, to radio, to radio waves, to fluorescent lights. We cannot, in the world we live in today, get away from it. These stimuli are constantly bombarding our senses, keeping us stimulated, and in doing so, compromising the production of melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.

The gastrointestinal tract

The gastrointestinal tract is one of the largest sources of neurotransmitter precursors. When it is compromised, it, in turn, compromises the production and thus the functioning of your body’s neurotransmitters. Common causes for a decline in this type of functionality includes intestinal permeability (also commonly referred to as leaky gut), Candida, and inflammatory bowel, amongst others.

Adrenal fatigue

Serotonin is the precursor of melatonin, which is primarily a sleep-inducing hormone. When your melatonin levels are compromised, disturbed sleep, difficulties with falling asleep, and other such issues such as nightmares, as an example, are often the result.

People who have these problems, especially those in the various stages of adrenal fatigue syndrome, usually have an imbalance with regards to their melatonin/cortisol levels. This imbalance plays a very large role with regards to their problem at hand.

Adrenal Function and Melatonin

Excessive amounts of cortisol have a negative influence on your melatonin production, while lowered levels of melatonin production, for whatever reason, causes your cortisol levels to disrupt your sleep pattern.

One of the ways in which your melatonin production is hampered is due to too much light. Slow release melatonin needs darker conditions in order to be produced. When less melatonin is produced, it skewers things in the favor of cortisol, which keeps the body alert and ready for action. The overproduction of cortisol due to various reasons, however, has the same effect.

When the body is put under stress, the hypothalamus in the brain sends chemical messages to the pituitary gland informing it of this. In turn, the pituitary gland sends messages to the adrenal glands, causing them to produce more cortisol to keep the body ready to either fight or flee from the perceived threatening situation. Neurological functions and slow release melatoninDuring this process, other functions, deemed non-essential for life, are either limited or stopped. Once the threat is over, the brain signals as much to the pituitary gland that in turn sends out its ‘all clear’ signal and normal functionality is returned. This is the body’s normal response to any stressful situation, whether it is physical, psychological, or environmental in nature.

The hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands are commonly referred to as the HPA-axis and are part of the endocrine system – a collection of glands throughout the body responsible for the production of the hormones that regulate your metabolism, sexual function, growth and development, and a host of others.

The problem arises when the stress perceived by the hypothalamus does not go away. In other words, it persists and/or escalates. As a result, more and more cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, resulting in lowered production of other hormones, melatonin included. Other mechanism may also be involved with sleep disturbance in the setting of adrenal fatigue, including metabolic disruptions such as reactive hypoglycemia , or excessive adrenaline production.

With a decrease in melatonin production, one finds the following symptoms, amongst those previously mentioned:

  • Brain ageing – lack of melatonin causes oxidative stress in the brain, which has a detrimental effect on brain function.
  • High blood pressure – lack of melatonin has a negative effect on your blood pressure and could cause damage to your kidneys.
  • Cancer- Studies have shown that people who work at night have a higher chance of developing certain cancers. This occurrence has been linked to low melatonin levels.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – This is a disorder linked to the seasons of the year where people have noted they get depressed only at certain times. This has also been linked with a lack of serotonin during certain months of the year due to climate (long days, short nights).

Slow Release Melatonin as a Solution for Sleep Disorders

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by your body and is associated with your sleeping pattern. People with insomnia or an irregular sleeping pattern, may or may not also suffer from adrenal fatigue and its associated reasons and indications. What they do have in common, though, is that all these people probably have lower than normal levels of melatonin. A melatonin supplement is a great way of regaining your sleeping pattern.

There are two types of melatonin available, immediate release melatonin, and slow release melatonin.
Immediate release melatonin acts on the body almost immediately and is quickly absorbed. It is, however, also quickly metabolized and its effect is not very long.

Slow release melatonin, on the other hand, has a different effect on your body. Because it is slow releasing, the melatonin takes effect and continues its effect for quite a number of hours. An added benefit is that it also improves blood pressure control, something the fast releasing version does not do. It, thus, has a prolonged, beneficial effect on your sleeping pattern.

Benefits of Slow Release Melatonin

Slow release melatonin benefitsWhereas many people who suffer from sleeping disorders are scared of taking sleeping tablets due to a fear of developing a dependency, slow releasing melatonin is not habit forming. It is also great for those whose sleeping cycles are out of sync, due, for example, to jet lag.

Slow release melatonin not only helps you fall asleep, it also promotes good quality sleep and stay asleep, allowing you to be wide awake and on the alert.

Possible Side-Effects of Slow Release Melatonin

As with all forms of medicinal supplements, there is the possibility of side effects or contraindications. With melatonin, these are:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reactions such as a rash, hives, swelling (mouth, tongue, lips, face), breathing problems
  • Depression
  • Hypothermia (breath too fast and start shivering)
  • Confusion
  • A heightened heart rate
  • Hangover feeling in the morning
  • Paradoxical effect including anxiety and increase alertness

If any of these symptoms manifest, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

A Natural Approach to Restoring Melatonin Levels

  • Avoid using electronic devices shortly before going to bed. The lights emitted from these devices inhibit melatonin production.
  • Make sure you are not on medications that lowers your melatonin levels.
  • High levels of stress hamper melatonin production. By dealing with stress, your production of this hormone will increase. Consider meditation, yoga, or walking as they are great at combating stress, or take part in a relaxing activity.
  • Increase your daylight exposure. This acts as the stimulant needed for melatonin to be produced when the sun sets.
  • Take a look at your diet. Certain foods are great for aiding in hormone control while being healthy for you as well. Vitamin B6, for example, is to be found in chicken, turkey, and bananas. Besides being necessary for normal brain development and function, it also aids in the production of melatonin.Magnesium, which is proliferous in legumes and dark green leafy vegetables, is great for bone health, muscle contraction and relaxation. People with a magnesium deficiency tend to have problems relaxing and are prone to restless leg syndrome.Calcium, found in milk and milk products such as cheese and yoghurt, plays a role in using tryptophan, an amino acid in the brain, to manufacture melatonin.Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is found in red meat, fish, and green vegetables. It facilitates the production of melatonin. People who have problems with their liver should not take vitamin B3 as a supplement, as large dosages are known to cause elevations in liver enzymes and, on occasion, a condition known as chemical hepatitis.

    Fruit such as tart cherries, pineapples, and oranges are good sources of melatonin while walnuts contain tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin and melatonin.

Melatonin Supplementation

Melatonin is readily available as over the counter sleep aid. Common dosage 3 mg taken orally at bedtime. Some people do well with smaller amounts, such as 0.5 mg to 1 mg, while others need a much higher dose. It is very important to take melatonin in very pure form, as a slight impurity can often trigger headache and paradoxical reaction. Slow release melatonin supplementationImpure fillers and binders, used to make melatonin, are often cited as a culprits. Melatonin is available in various delivery forms. If you have sleep problem and regular over the counter melatonin is not helpful, consult a knowledgeable health care professional. Those who are in advance stages of adrenal fatigue often find melatonin’s usefulness quite limited. The most common reason comes down to improper use on dosage, timing ,and delivery system. Also, a body that is weak can have concurrent disturbances in metabolic pathways , such as reactive hypoglycemia, that prevent healthy sleep. Many are tired at night but wired and unable to go to sleep at night. Their autonomic nervous system is in overdrive and adrenaline prevents the brain from relaxing. Melatonin supplement will not be helpful in such cases.


While the lack of sleep or of proper sleep is undeniably a potential health issue, one can do much to either prevent or decrease the problem by making a few simple changes. Lifestyle factors tend to be the main reason for sleeping disorders and subsequently lowered levels of melatonin.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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