Melatonin is synthesized and released by the pineal gland in the brain and its release follows the body’s circadian rhythms (i.e., internal clock)—where it is released in abundance during the night and less so in the daytime.
Due to its association with circadian rhythms, most people consider melatonin supplements only when they are trying combat jet lag or insomnia. However, beyond its sleep promoting effects, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the expression and activity of a variety our natural antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione, the main intracellular antioxidant. Having a well developed endogenous antioxidant defense system is important for athletes, especially those who limit fruit and vegetable intake, train/perform intensely multiple times per day, and/or are over the age of 40.
Recent research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism investigated the antioxidant potential of melatonin in athletes undergoing a heavy resistance-training program. The researchers concluded that taking high dose melatonin (100 mg, 30-minutes before bed) during heavy resistance training enhances the efficiency of the endogenous antioxidant defense system and provides protection against exercise induced oxidative damage in skeletal muscle, without adverse effects.
ACTION POINT: We generally recommend from 0.5 to 5 mg of melatonin for sleep issues and to boost growth hormone while you sleep. Research from this team suggests that taking 100 mg, 30-minutes before bed, improves circadian rhythms in athletes and promotes an increase in the body’s natural antioxidant defenses safely and without major side effects. Taken together, pre-bedtime melatonin may promote increased exercise recovery via increased protection from exercise-induced oxidative stress and better sleep patterns in athletes.
Leonardo-Mendonça RC, Ocaña-Wilhelmi J, de Haro T, de Teresa-Galván C, Guerra-Hernández E, Rusanova I, Fernández-Ortiz M, Sayed RK, Escames G, Acuña-Castroviejo D. The benefit of a supplement with the antioxidant melatonin on redox status and muscle damage in resistance trained athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Feb 13.