Can Support Better Sleep
Melatonin is often called the sleep hormone and for good reason.
Its one of the most popular sleep aids and a common natural remedy to treat issues like insomnia.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that melatonin can support better sleep.
One study in 50 people with insomnia showed that taking melatonin two hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster and enhanced overall sleep quality .
Another large analysis of 19 studies in children and adults with sleep disorders found that melatonin reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep, increased total sleep time and improved sleep quality .
However, though melatonin is associated with fewer side effects than other sleep medications, it may be less effective .
Studies show that melatonin can lengthen total sleep time, shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and enhance sleep quality in children and adults.
This type of depression is related to changes in the seasons and occurs each year around the same time, with symptoms typically appearing in late fall to early winter.
Some research indicates that it could be linked to changes in your circadian rhythm caused by seasonal light changes .
Because melatonin plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, low doses are often used to decrease symptoms of seasonal depression.
However, other research is still inconclusive on the effects of melatonin on seasonal depression.
What Are Melatonin Supplements
The brain normally makes only a very small amount of melatoninaround 0.2 milligrams, Brandon Peters-Mathews, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, tells Health. For some people, that might not be enough to help them get the rest they need. So melatonin supplements, which typically contain higher doses than the amount your body naturally releases, can be useful to treat sleep disorders and insomnia.
Supplemental melatonin allows us to get drowsy and ready for sleep,” says Dr. Malow. “In addition, melatonin can be calming and help us turn our brains off.”
Research backs this up, showing that melatonin can reduce the time it takes for people with delayed sleep phase wake disorder to fall asleep. Another study, published in Journal of Physiology-Paris, found that melatonin might also help reset the bodys sleep-wake cycle. Other small studies suggest that supplementary melatonin can ease anxiety and jet lag.
Melatonin is a prescription medication in Europe, but in the US it qualifies as a dietary supplement, meaning its available over the counter without a prescription at drugstores and health-nutrition retail outlets. Not all brands of melatonin are the same, though, and its important to read the label and make sure you are getting pure melatonin and not melatonin mixed with other substances, warns Dr. Malow.
Read This If You Take Melatonin To Sleep At Night
Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid. Its naturally produced in your body. You dont need a prescription for it and can buy it in gummy form or in a fruity drink. But is it as effective and safe as we think?
Natural melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, helps humans fall asleep and synthetic melatonin has been available as a sleep aid for nearly three decades. But the synthetic versions effects have not been extensively studied, and since its classified as a dietary supplement, it is almost completely unregulated by the FDA.
Its important to take a closer look at this common supplement. Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia, Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Arizona, told HuffPost.
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How Much Melatonin Is Too Much
Taken on a short-term basis, melatonin has very few side effects and when they do appear, they tend to be mild. Research shows that some side effects of taking melatonin can include headache, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness.3 The possible long-term side effects of melatonin use are unclear.3
Depending on the dosage, supplements can elevate the melatonin levels in the blood much higher than the body normally produces. For instance, dosages between 1-10 mg can increase plasma melatonin levels from 3 to 60 times their typical peaked levels7. Exceedingly high levels of melatonin might also contribute to fatigue, headaches, and might even affect human reproduction.5 Therefore, proceed with caution before opting for a higher-dose supplement and be sure to speak to your healthcare professional about your sleep issue.
Of course, if youre pregnant or nursing, you should definitely consult your physician before taking melatonin. Keep in mind that, like all supplements, melatonin might interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure or blood thinning medicines so best to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin if you are taking prescription medications. In older adults, melatonin may remain active in their bodies longer than it does in younger people and also may cause daytime lethargy.3 Finally, the 2017 guidelines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend avoiding the use of melatonin in older people with dementia.
Can You Overdose On Melatonin How To Determine The Right Dosage For You
Melatonin is natural, but taking too much of the supplement may lead to adverse side effects. Heres how to recognize signs of a potential overdose.
Tossing and turning night after night can take a toll on your mental and physical health. This can make you feel sluggish, irritable, and achy throughout the day. So naturally you might seek a sleep aid for better rest.
Melatonin is a neurohormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle, and many formulations and dosages are available over the counter, explains Ofer Jacobowitz, MD, PhD, an otolaryngologist and sleep expert based in New York City. It can be useful when you are trying to advance your bedtime, especially when combined with reducing light exposure two hours before bedtime.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland and gradually released into your bloodstream as you prepare for sleep. But if your body doesnt produce enough of this hormone, you may have problems falling asleep or staying asleep.
Melatonin supplements are generally safe when taken appropriately, but it is possible to overdo it. Read on to learn how to recognize a melatonin overdose.
Can Melatonin Help Mychild Sleep
There is good scientific evidence melatonin can shorten thetime to fall asleep in children with insomnia, including children with ADHD,autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. While melatonin can be aneffective short-term solution to address bedtime problems, children withneurodevelopmental disorders may benefit from longer-term use in some cases. Itshould be noted that the immediate release formulation does not help withdifficulty staying asleep . There is some evidence to suggest that extended-releasemelatonin may help with night awakenings in children, but there are far fewerstudies to support this use, and the extended release formulations require theability to swallow capsules.
There are many reasons why children may have trouble fallingasleep: anxiety, restless legs symptoms or a too-earlybedtime are just a few. Before considering melatonin, have your pediatricianconduct a thorough evaluation for other potential causes.
In general, melatonin should not be given to healthy,typically developing children under age 3, as difficulties falling and stayingasleep in these children are almost always behavioral in nature.
First Off What Are Melatonin Sleep Aids
Before answering the question “can you take melatonin every night?” you need to know what, exactly, you’re consuming. Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain’s pineal gland in response to darkness, and in people who have a healthy circadian rhythm, levels naturally peak between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. It’s then secreted into your blood and the fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord and works to inhibit the stimulation of your suprachiasmatic nucleus, a tiny region in the brain that acts as a “master circadian clock” and tells your body to wake up or chill out. At that point, you’ll start to feel drowsy and ready for some shut-eye. “It helps bring on sleep, and it helps to entrain our circadian rhythm,” says Dr. Watson.
“There’s no real reason to take melatonin unless you have one of these disorders,” he adds. “It wouldn’t be recommended .” To treat difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, the AASM advises clinicians not to use melatonin “because the overall evidence available was weakly against melatonin’s efficacy.” Not to mention, there are often more effective methods to treat the sleep troubles you’re experiencing. And that includes insomnia. “If you look at clinical guidelines around treatment for insomnia you’re not going to see melatonin really included,” says Dr. Watson. “It’s also not an FDA-approved treatment of insomnia.”
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Do Melatonin Supplements Really Work
Interestingly, a systematic review of melatonin studies found that melatonin supplementation did very little to help with insomnia, shift work, or jet lag. Another review found no proof that melatonin helped people get to sleep faster.
Still, other experts found the supplement effective. Dr. Obea notes that melatonin is recommended to people who have sleep disorders. Dr. Avena feels melatonin is a helpful sleep aid, while Dr. Bazil said it can definitely be useful if there is a circadian rhythm component to the sleep problem.
Since the studies on melatonin have such mixed to negative results, few experts wholeheartedly recommended the supplement, though they feel melatonin is perfectly safe to try. Some people may benefit from melatonin while others may not, said Dr. Robbins. If you dont see a difference within the first 1-2 weeks, stop taking melatonin.
What To Know About Dietary Supplements And Safety
The FDA classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, meaning that its regulated less strictly than a regular drug. For dietary supplements, label claims and product safety dont have to meet FDA approval before theyre marketed.
A 2017 study of 31 different melatonin supplements found that the actual melatonin content of 71 percent of the products didnt match the claim on the label. Additionally, 26 percent of products contained serotonin, which can be potentially harmful even in small doses.
When shopping for melatonin supplements, look for products that are USP verified. United States Pharmacopeia is an independent organization that works to ensure proper quality and dosing of dietary supplements.
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Medications That Interact With Melatonin
Melatonin can have a direct effect on a personâs sleep cycle. A person should avoid taking melatonin alongside products containing caffeine or alcohol, as both of these can affect a personâs ability to fall asleep.
Anyone who is taking other medications should discuss possible side effects with their prescribing doctor. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can interact with melatonin supplements.
Some medications, such as birth control, can cause the body to produce more melatonin. Taking a supplement may cause levels of melatonin to increase too much, producing unwanted side effects.
Immune suppressors and some blood thinners may also react with melatonin. For example, melatonin may intensify the effects of some blood thinners, causing a risk of excessive bleeding.
A person should speak to a doctor if they are considering taking melatonin for trouble sleeping. A doctor can recommend the correct dose and tell a person whether their medication is likely to cause unsafe side effects.
People should also report any unwanted side effects from melatonin to a doctor as soon as possible.
A person using melatonin should contact poison control, 911, or their local emergency number if they experience any of the following side effects:
- extremely high blood pressure
When To Steer Clear
Certain people should be more cautious about melatonin use, particularly if it triggers a negative reaction, including those with:
- Chronic insomnia. Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep that lasts a month or more shouldn’t be managed with melatonin, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American College of Physicians. These groups recommend other more proven remedies , noting that there is not enough evidence that melatonin is safe and effective for long-term use.
- Restless Legs Syndrome . The tingling or “creepy-crawly” feeling in the legs that often keeps people awake could be worsened by melatonin. The supplement can intensify RLS symptoms because it lowers the amount of dopamine in the brain, according to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. If you’ve been diagnosed with RLS or suspect that you have the condition, talk to your HCP about lifestyle changes or medications that could help.
- Dementia. This progressive cognitive deterioration is often associated with insomnia, which can tax both patients and their caregivers. But melatonin may do more harm than good among those with dementia since the condition causes people to metabolize the supplement more slowly, resulting in daytime drowsiness. In people with moderate or severe dementia, melatonin supplementation may increase the risk of falls, according to 2015 guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
If you’ve been drinking alcohol, it’s also not safe to take melatonin.
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What You Can Do To Fall Asleep Without Melatonin
It’s easy to gulp down a melatonin supplement and call it a day if you’re struggling to fall asleep, but it’s just as easy â not to mention, free â to use sleep expert-approved tactics to help you drift off. The first step is an easy one: Realize that no one’s a perfect sleeper, says Dr. Watson. “Everyone has a challenging night of sleep every now and then â that’s not abnormal, so they shouldn’t view it as such,” he says. “It’s just a part of being human. Expectation setting can allow some people to calm their minds to allow sleep to happen.”
Beyond that, Dr. Watson recommends you avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. If you do take a peek, you might automatically start thinking about the work you have to do tomorrow and other worries â none of which will help you get back to your dreams, he says. If you wake up and feel like you’ve had your eyes wide open for a while, move into a different area of your home, keep the lights dim, and do something that would make you drowsy, such as listening to calming music or reading a dull book, he suggests. Once you’re feeling sleepy, head back to bed, he suggests.
Dangerous Interactions Could Occur
The supplement could also interfere with other important medications, including blood thinners, diabetes drugs, immune system-suppressing drugs, anti-seizure drugs and some contraceptives. If you’re taking any type of medication, it’s important to talk to your HCP before taking melatonin or any other dietary supplements.
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Effects Of Daily Melatonin Use
Studies show serious adverse affects and toxicity of melatonin is relatively rare. However, more long-term human research needs to be conducted to conclusively prove this.
What this means, is that it’s relatively safe to use melatonin daily. However its advisable to only do this for a short period. While no current research points at the toxicity of using melatonin long term, you can have side effects when you take it at too high a dose.
Most doctors recommend a dosage of 1 to 3 milligrams . In some people, an overdose of melatonin may cause excessive sleepiness while in others it might produce the opposite of the desired effect and trigger over alertness.
Signs of an overdose include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and anxiety. In some cases, some people might also experience a spike in their blood pressure.
Why Should I Use A Natural Sleep Aid
Difficulty falling asleep is a common occurrence. For many people, this means trouble sleeping every now and again or for a short duration of time.
In many cases, this can be corrected by improving your sleep hygiene. This includes:
- limiting daytime napping to 30 minutes or less
- exercising for at least 10 minutes per day
- avoiding caffeine and other stimulants before bedtime
- passing on heavy foods, like fatty or fried meals, before bedtime
If your sleep troubles are infrequent, you may wish to use an over-the-counter or home remedy to help you fall asleep. Some people wish to avoid using medication in favor of a more natural alternative.
Nonprescription sleep aids are typically considered natural. They encourage relaxation, ease anxiety, and promote sleep. Many natural sleep aids are also linked to other health-promoting behaviors like improved digestion and pain relief.
Getting enough sleep may be as simple as changing routines, diet, or habits. Always try nonmedicinal, nonherbal approaches first.
Is It Safe To Take Melatonin
For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, thereâs not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety of supplementing with melatonin is lacking.
Also keep in mind:
Interactions with medicines
- As with all dietary supplements, people who are taking medicine should consult their health care providers before using melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications need to be under medical supervision when taking melatonin supplements.
Possible allergic reaction risk
Safety concerns for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Safety concerns for older people
Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement
Products may not contain whatâs listed on the label