Day 4: Melatonin Helped Me Start Waking Up Earlier But Continued To Cause Me Drowsiness During The Day
Day four was a weekend and typically I use the weekend to sleep in as long as I want. I know it is best for your sleep cycle not to do this and that we all should aim to wake up at the same time every day, but as someone who struggles to sleep at night, there are times where weekend mornings are the only time I feel I can get an adequate amount of sleep.
On this morning, however, I naturally woke up much earlier than normal. It was very strange for me because I am not a morning person and typically require many alarms to get up at early morning hours.
I was pleasantly surprised at this and felt ready to take on the day until daytime sleepiness hit me in the afternoon. I was bummed about the daytime drowsiness because I truly enjoyed feeling like I was getting on a better schedule.
That evening, taking melatonin was helpful for easing some late-night anxiety I was experiencing. I was grateful for the help to get to sleep quickly and easily.
Reorganize To Lighten Your Evening Schedule
To figure out what’s interfering with your sleep and therefore your waking up, look at your day and how you spend your evenings. You might have to reorganize some of your activities. For example, even if the only time you can get to the gym is after dinner, this time slot can result in poor sleep. Segar suggests finding another time to work out earlier in the day.
According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, about 12 percent of adults believe their work schedule makes it impossible to get enough sleep. If you’re overburdened on the job and constantly work late into the evening, try to find ways to share the load with a partner or colleague.
How Does Melatonin Make You Feel Sleepy At Night
After dark, melatonin preps your body for sleep by lowering your body temperature, blood pressure, stress hormones, and alertness. This time of night, which usually falls 2-3 hours before you go to sleep, is known as dim light melatonin onset . It marks the start of what the RISE app calls your Melatonin Window, the period when your brain produces its highest levels of melatonin that it will all night. Going to bed during this window will give you the best chance of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep through the night. The RISE app can tell you your ideal bedtime each day based on your Melatonin Window.
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Caution Regarding Synthetic Melatonin:
While it appears to be safe, Melatonin has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of melatonin may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds, so synthetic melatonin is made in factories that are not regulated by the FDA. While there are real concerns about the widespread use of melatonin sold as a consumer product, there have not been any reported cases of proven toxicity or overdose.
Get To Know Your Internal Body Clock Better
If you’ve been riding the sleep deprivation roller coaster for a while, you might not even know how much sleep your body naturally would want if you weren’t staying up late and slapping around the alarm clock in the morning.
Dr. Lack explains that, in general, your body makes changes in anticipation of your going to sleep, such as dropping in temperature and heart rate and secreting melatonin into your bloodstream one to two hours before your regular bedtime. This;get-some-sleep cycle peaks;at about 3 or 4 a.m., and then your body starts a gradual morning waking-up process.
One way to figure out what might work best for you is to set a consistent bedtime that starts about eight hours before your alarm is going to go off. Stick to that for several weeks to get a feeling for how well your body responds. Lack notes that some people are naturally night owls and will still find it hard to go to bed early , even if they have to wake up early as well.
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How Much Melatonin Do You Need
Melatonin isnt one of those one-size-fits-all types of things. For melatonin to be helpful, its important to tailor your dose, how you take it and the time of day to your specific sleep;problem. Taking it at the wrong time of day may actually make your sleep disorder worse, warns Dr. Drerup.
Its best to start with very low doses of melatonin. Keep the dose close to the amount that your body normally produces. Thats less than; 0.3 mg per day, she advises. You should only use the lowest amount possible to achieve the desired effect.
When it comes to melatonin, its best not to go it alone. Melatonin is sold over-the-counter, but;Dr. Drerup;recommends working with your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist to find the safest and most effective dose for you. The right dose should produce restful sleep, with no daytime irritability or fatigue.
Who Can Take Melatonin
The following issues can benefit from taking melatonin supplements:
- Jetlag: Travelling across multiple time zones gives you jetlag and disturbs your sleep pattern.
- Shift work sleep disorder: Shift work disorder can be caused by working night shifts, rotating shifts, or even an early morning shift. This leads to sleep deprivation and the inability to fall asleep when you need to.
- Insomnia: Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Delayed sleep phase disorder : You cannot fall asleep fast, so you end up staying awake beyond midnight and find it difficult waking up early in the morning when you need to.
Doctors have also recommended melatonin supplements for the following conditions:
- Sleep disorders and certain developmental and behavioral disorders in children;
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Who Should Take Melatonin
*For occasional insomnia and sleeplessness: Short term help for certain insomnia such as delayed sleep disorder or other sleep disorders affecting circadian rhythm. Some report that Melatonin helps reduce the time it takes for them to fall asleep.
*Children with neurodevelopmental disorders
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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When Melatonin Can And Can’t Help
Some people with certain kinds of sleep disorders may get some relief from melatonin, research suggests, but theres less evidence for its use with more common forms of insomnia, according to the NIHs National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
A 2013 meta-analysis found that on average, people with insomnia fell asleep about 7 minutes faster with melatonin than with a placebo. While most melatonin side effects are mild, CRs survey showed that people may be taking it in unsafe ways, for example, driving too soon after taking it or taking it long term when theres little data indicating that longer than three months is safe.
Because of the lack of evidence, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends clinicians not use melatonin as a treatment for insomnia.
But that doesnt mean it cant help anyone.
About 5 to 10 percent of people may feel sleepy after taking melatonin, says Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD, the medical director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center at New York University.
Usually the people that get more benefit are the elderly, maybe 70 or older, and young patients, he says. Thats because older patients and young children are less likely to produce sufficient melatonin on their own, though its important to consult a medical professional before giving a child melatonin. Theres still little research on melatonin in kids and some concern about how it might affect development, especially around puberty.
When ‘rise And Shine’ Is Easier Said Than Done
Lots of people set the alarm with the best of intentions, knowing that’s the time they need to get up to meet the day’s demands. But then the alarm clock seems to ring way before they’re ready to rise, so they’re hitting snooze and, eventually, running late. Something’s got to give.
The key lies inside your body. “An important factor in being able to wake up easily at the desired time in the morning is the timing of one’s circadian rhythm, or ‘body clock,'” says sleep researcher Leon C. Lack, PhD, professor emeritus in the school of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. Much of what you need to do to wake up on time starts by planning your sleep schedule the day and the evening before and by making your mornings count.
How do our internal clocks work, and how much can we control them? According to the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences , the bodys master clock, located in the brain, produces and regulates our circadian rhythms, which help determine sleep patterns over the course of a 24 hour period. Environmental signals, such as daylight and darkness, affect circadian rhythms, too. When incoming light hits the optic nerves, information is passed along from the eyes to the brain. When there is little or no light at night your clock tells the brain to make more melatonin, a hormone which makes you sleepy.
Reasons To Be Cautious About Melatonin
Your sleep-deprived friends may swear by it and you’ve probably read about it online or seen it on drugstore shelves. But is melatonin all it’s cracked up to be, or are you better off just counting sheep to get some ZZZs?
First, the basics: Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain that your body uses to help regulate your circadian rhythm. That’s the 24-hour body clock that, among other vital functions, tells you when to sleep and when to wake up each day.
Your body gradually starts making melatonin about two hours before bedtime, bringing on that familiar drowsy feeling, and production continues throughout the night. In fact, melatonin is often called the “Dracula of hormones” because levels rise when it gets dark outside. As sunrise approaches, levels begin to drop, letting you know it’s time to rise for the day.
Given melatonin’s essential role in the body’s internal clockworks, many people assume the supplement is safe. This may be one reason why it has become the fourth most popular supplement among U.S. adults, according to a National Health Interview Survey. Its use doubled between 2007 and 2012, as more than three million adults reported taking the sleep aid.
And it is true: Melatonin is generally harmless – at least if you take it for a short period of time.
Should You Take Melatonin For Insomnia
If you have or think you have insomnia, you should chat with your doctor about melatonin as a potential treatment. Some major health agencies advise against using melatonin to treat insomnia and instead advocate for cognitive behavioral therapy or another drug-free intervention.;
Your doctor may want you to try lifestyle modifications first, such as increasing your daily exercise, changing your eating habits or reducing alcohol consumption. Your provider will also want to rule out other conditions that can coexist with insomnia, such as anxiety or depression. Sometimes, when drug-free interventions don’t suffice, prescription medication is needed to treat insomnia.;
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Can Melatonin Supplements Improve Sleep
It is well-established that melatonin produced by the body plays a fundamental role in getting quality sleep, so its natural to consider whether melatonin supplements can be used to address sleeping difficulties.
Research to date has shown that melatonin supplements may be useful in certain situations for both adults and children.
Are There Side Effects And Can You Overdose On Melatonin Supplements
Because melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , there are no official dosing guidelines. Though you wonât find recorded cases of lethal melatonin overdoses, taking high doses of exogenous melatonin increases your chance for experiencing common side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness. Although less common, some people may experience unpleasant side effects such as anxiety, depression, abdominal pain, and joint pain â or more serious side effects like tremors, seizures, and allergic reactions.
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What Are The Health Benefits Of Taking Melatonin
Melatonin supplements may help with certain conditions, such as jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, some sleep disorders in children, and anxiety before and after surgery.
Jet lag affects people when they travel by air across multiple time zones. With jet lag, you may not feel well overall and you may have disturbed sleep, daytime tiredness, impaired functioning, and digestive problems.
Research suggests that melatonin supplements may help with jet lag. This is based on medium-sized reviews from 2010 and 2014.
- Four studies that included a total of 142 travelers showed that melatonin may be better than a placebo in reducing overall symptoms of jet lag after eastward flights. Another study of 234 travelers on eastward flights looked at only sleep quality and found low-quality evidence that melatonin may be better than placebo for improving sleep quality.
- Two studies that included a total of 90 travelers showed that melatonin may be better than a placebo in reducing symptoms of jet lag after westward flights.
Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder
People with DSWPD have trouble falling asleep at the usual times and waking up in the morning. They typically have difficulty getting to sleep before 2 to 6 a.m. and would prefer to wake up between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Some sleep disorders in children
Because of these uncertainties, itâs best to work with a health care provider if youâre considering giving a child melatonin for sleep problems.
Get An Evaluation To See Whats Affecting Your Sleep
Sleep disorders, such as obstructive;sleep apnea, or health issues, such as;allergies;or;depression, could be leaving you with poor quality sleep. No matter how hard you try to get to bed on time and wake up on time, you’ll still be tired in the morning and sleepy during the day.
For sleep apnea, your sleep partner may note snoring or gasping for air, or you may have a morning headache. Talk to your doctor about testing to find out if you have an underlying condition that’s making sleep difficult.
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Can Melatonin Help With Insomnia
People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. When symptoms last a month or longer, itâs called chronic insomnia.
According to practice guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American College of Physicians , thereâs not enough strong evidence on the effectiveness or safety of melatonin supplementation for chronic insomnia to recommend its use. The American College of Physicians guidelines strongly recommend the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as an initial treatment for insomnia.
Does Melatonin Work For Shift Workers
Shift work that involves night shifts may cause people to feel sleepy at work and make it difficult to sleep during the daytime after a shift ends.
According to two 2014 research reviews, studies on whether melatonin supplements help shift workers were generally small or inconclusive.
- The first review looked at 7 studies that included a total of 263 participants. The results suggested that people taking melatonin may sleep about 24 minutes longer during the daytime, but other aspects of sleep, such as time needed to fall asleep, may not change. The evidence, however, was considered to be of low quality.
- The other review looked at 8 studies , with a total of 300 participants, to see whether melatonin helped promote sleep in shift workers. Six of the studies were high quality, and they had inconclusive results. The review did not make any recommendations for melatonin use in shift workers.