Fatigue is a major problem worldwide. Studies from the U.S. and abroad suggest that in Western nations millions of people have significant problems with fatigue. In the United States, fatigue is one of the 10 most common reasons for visiting a physician.1 Making things worse, a significant portion of those troubled by fatigue cannot fall asleep when they go to bed. Recent U.S. data indicates that some 3.3 million patients each year visit their doctors for insomnia alone.2 Older individuals have been thought to be at greatest risk for this problem. As many as 34 percent of Americans over 65 have problems with insomnia.

A recent study found that sleep problems are common even in young adults aged 17 to 30. Researchers surveyed about 3000 individuals regarding problems with sleep, such as: difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, "disrupted sleep," napping during the day, nightmares, and waking up too early or waking up tired. Only 36 percent responded that they were free of all of these indicators.

In Western nations, insomnia and related concerns have even been documented in preschool children. For example, a German study found that 12 percent of four to five year old children had difficulties falling asleep. The research is clear. For a variety of reasons literally millions of people throughout the world are legitimately crying out: "Why am I so tired? And what can I do about it?"

Onto this stage stepped a nutritional supplement named melatonin. In 1993, newspapers throughout the U.S. carried word of research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scientists there had demonstrated that small amounts of melatonin acted as a natural sleep aid. Melatonin´s popularity grew in 1994 when the lay press reported that it could decrease jet lag. Interest in the compound grew further as leading periodicals continued to fan the fire. On August 7, 1995, NEWSWEEK featured melatonin. Since then, the compound has continued to receive rave reviews and has demonstrated its ability to generate sales of millions of dollars for bookstores and health food establishments. When one of the world´s leading melatonin researchers, Dr. Russel J. Reiter, wrote a book in 1995 on the subject, he gave one striking indication of melatonin´s popularity. He observed that 24 different U.S. companies were then marketing the hormone. Furthermore, a steady stream of new companies was joining the marketing ranks on a monthly basis.

Melatonin is not a foreign substance to the body, but a natural hormone produced in the body and found in certain foods. Even though melatonin supplements have been a commercial success, there is another particularly exciting line of research regarding this hormone. Namely, we are learning that we can boost melatonin production in our own bodies in natural ways, without having to resort to costly supplements.

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- Proof Positive by Neil Nedley