You’ve always known that a good night’s sleep does wonders for the skin. Melatonin, one of the hormones responsible for that well-rested glow, is now being used by Murad to apply that same benefit to skin from the outside in!

Murad’s new Sleep Reform Serum ($97) touts itself as a new way to “Let the Night Transform You” with melatonin, which has been used as an OTC sleep aide since 1993. But can it provide any anti-aging benefits when it’s applied topically?

According to Wikipedia, Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is important in the regulation of circadian rhythms, or your natural biological clock that monitors sleep patterns. Anyone who has suffered from jet lag knows how important it is to keep that natural clock in check. When the body is exposed to the shift in daylight and nighttime patterns, it absorbs this information, produces melatonin in the pineal gland, and biosynthesizes the majority of it all in the skin cells via the amino acid tryptophan (the infamous amino acid blamed for Thanksgiving naps). Melatonin production is actually squelched by light and thrives in darkness: more darkness + more sleep = more melatonin. As a frequent visitor and soon-to-be resident of Alaska, where darkness prevails, I'm hoping Murad is onto something here.

This, in theory, is why Murad’s Sleep Reform Serum, applied each evening, would be effective. Basked in darkness, the melatonin can go to work. As a natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger, melatonin definitely has anti-aging properties. With all of the biosynthesizing naturally occurring within the skin, it’s plausible that applying melatonin to the skin topically would provide an efficient boost. According to a study done by the University of Tennesee, melatonin, when applied topically, was found to counteract the effects of internal and external stresses on skin and help maintain its natural balance and integrity. Studies have also shown melatonin’s ability to counteract the harmful effect of UV rays, so expect to see it popping up as an ingredient in sunscreens in the near future.

As far as the Sleep Reform Serum’s other highlighted ingredients go, the Repair Enhancing Matrix (REM) claims to “to add depth and power to critical down-time skin needs to rebuild and maximize the anti-aging potential of deep skin sleep” … however, Murad doesn’t clarify what this matrix really is. And Oligopeptide-1 “encourages plump, firm texture and increases proliferation of cells so mature skin looks and acts younger.” I couldn’t find much on Oligopeptide-1, but it seems to be related to the growth and synthesis of collagen. Nonetheless, Murad claims that the Sleep Reform Serum improves collagen production potential (interesting inclusion of the word potential) by 62% and multiplies collagen-building cells by 78%.

Murad’s patent is still pending for its Sleep Reform Serum, and the Sleep Reform Dietary Supplement is also available to “speed onset of sleep and provide the nutritional building blocks for resting repair.” More information is available at

Active Ingredients: Melatonin, REM, Oligopeptide-1

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycereth-7, Xylitylglucoside, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium, Acrylodyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Schizophyllan, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Hydrolyzed Myrtus Communis Leaf Extract, Aminobutyric Acid, Zinc Gluconate, Calcium PCA, Algae Extract, Sodium PCA, Dimethyl Sulfone, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Tephrosia Purpurea Seed Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silyate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chitosan Ascorabte, Corn Starch Modified, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Linalool, Anthemis, Nobilis Flower Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Yellow 5 (Cl 19140) Red 40 (Cl 16035)