What is melatonin?Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain.
The production of melatonin is regulated by the biological clock in the brain and therefore melatonin levels provide information about our internal, biological time. Normally, the production of melatonin is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. For this reason, melatonin has been called the hormone of darkness.
Why do we measure melatonin?
We measure melatonin to get information about the internal, biological time and to see if the internal time is synchronized with the time in the environment. If there is a mismatch between someone’s internal time and the actual time, the person experiences sleep difficulties, fatigue, sleepiness and potential mood problems.
The classic situation when this happens is when we travel and have jet lag. However, there are individuals who sleep too late (i.e. fall asleep in the morning and wake up late) or too early (fall asleep very early in the evening and wake up very early) even when they are at home. There are also people who have atypical (for example, irregular or shifting) sleep patterns. These sleep issues can be diagnosed with melatonin testing.
What does melatonin testing involve?
During melatonin testing, the patient sits in a dimly lit room seated in a comfortable chair for approximately 6 hours (6 pm-midnight) after which the patient returns home. Every 30-60 minutes, a saliva sample is taken by a technician.
The following medications and substances can render test results inaccurate: cannabis, non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. Tylenol and Advil) and certain anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. If you take medications, please discuss it with your sleep clinician when booking the test.
Fees for Services:
Melatonin testing is a specialized assessment method and is not covered by OHIP. We provide a letter that describes why you need the assessment and we advise that you submit the letter to your insurance provider. In our experience, most clients receive funding but the decision depends on your insurance provider.