Is Melatonin Safe For Senior Citizens
Since the deterioration of sleep quality with age occurs by itself due to lower melatonin production, melatonin supplements seem to be the simplest way to fill the need for this hormone. But are they safe for the elderly?
A study conducted in 2007 concluded that prolonged-release melatonin supplements showed good results in improving the quality of sleep in patients aged 55 years and older. The results were good for patients with dementia as well as for those whose cognitive functions were not significantly impaired. Therefore, taking melatonin is not only safe but also effective.
But its important to remember that the elderly, along with insomnia, often have age-related and chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases and melatonin can interfere with the effectiveness of the drugs aimed at treating these conditions. Thats why, before you start taking melatonin supplements, an appointment with a healthcare professional is highly advised.
Is It Safe To Take Melatonin Every Night
Unfortunately, theres no straight answer here, which youre probably hoping for. There isnt any evidence proving conclusively that long-term use of melatonin is safe. Though the supplement is generally not associated with dependency, habituation, or hangover symptoms, Dr. Kohli says she doesnt suggest taking melatonin every night because of the lack of long-term clinical trials evaluating the safety of chronic use.
At the same time, there isnt any evidence proving nightly melatonin use isnt safe. Dr. Bollu points out that melatonin is a natural hormone that fluctuates in our bodies on a daily basis anyway, meaning it may be safer than taking a prescription drug.
However, thats a double-edged sword: Because melatonin supplements arent medications, they arent regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . Theres no guarantee about the quality of the product youre purchasing or the quantity of ingredients claimed on the label, unlike prescription drugs. A pharmacist or nutritionist may be able to help you find a product produced by a reputable manufacturer.
Reversing Moderate To Severe Cases
The rationale: When given at the right dose and early enough, high-dose melatonin could help prevent worsening of mild coronavirus disease 2019, especially in patients with high-risk features, and help reverse moderate to severe COVID-19 cases.
The MAC19 PRO group felt compelled to make public this recommendation in light of the daily record number of new COVID-19 cases reported by the Department of Health and the overflow of severe cases in hospitals, with many symptomatic patients regrettably being turned away without adequate treatment due to lack of rooms and beds to accommodate them.
This open recommendation for adjuvant high-dose melatonin in COVID-19 patients is based on its well-established antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-system modulating mechanisms published in international journals by the coauthors of this recommendation, the locally conducted case series of patients admitted at Manila Doctors Hospital which was recently published in the Melatonin Research journal in the United States, and some of the group members experience as individual clinicians treating COVID-19 cases.
The MAC19 PRO groups preliminary clinical experience with high-dose melatonin has shown that it could help accelerate clinical improvement, significantly reduce the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation, shorten hospital stay and possibly reduce mortality.
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Are There Any People Who Should Avoid Taking Melatonin
Theres limited research into the safety of using melatonin supplements during pregnancy. Also, while melatonin is a normal component of breast milk, theres little research into the effects of taking melatonin supplements while breastfeeding.
Because of this, its best to avoid taking melatonin if youre:
Its a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice that you:
- frequently have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night
- often feel drowsy or tired during the day
- have trouble performing your daily activities
Your doctor will work with you to discuss your sleep routine and lifestyle habits. They may also ask you to keep a sleep diary to track the amount of sleep youre getting over a period of time.
Its also possible that your doctor will perform a physical exam and order blood tests. These can help them rule out a medical condition that may be causing your sleep issues.
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How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dog
Want your dog to fall asleep at night, before a plane ride or on a road trip? Melatonin is a safe sleep aid for dogs, a typical dose for large dogs is 3 mg, and even less for smaller breeds. Just be on the look out for any potential side effects like an upset stomach, excessive itching, confusion and high blood pressure.
Side Effects Of Taking Melatonin As A Sleep Aid
Since everyone produces some amount of melatonin, even those suffering from insomnia, each person will respond differently to larger doses. Appearance of any side effects indicates the need to cut back dosage.
Start with a smaller melatonin dose for best results. The goal in using MEL should be to help your body get the rhythm of its natural sleep cycle thus not needing to take melatonin for a period of time.
Side effects occur in persons who take a higher dosage than recommended but may also happen due to underlying health problems. Besides headache, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, and nausea, you may experience:
- Grogginess in the morning
- Lowered body temperature and itching
- Vivid dreams
- Hormonal changes and
- Sluggish response
Melatonin may also aggravate bleeding in persons with bleeding disorders, increase blood sugar in diabetic patients, make symptoms of depression worse, interfere with immunosuppressive therapies in people who received transplants, increase the risk of seizure disorders.
However, most of these side effects are short term and go away before you realize but there can be other long term effects on your body when using MEL supplements daily as a sleep aid.
Note: The long term side effects of Melatonin are still unknown. Its long term safety has also not been established. There are some concerns about its continued use being associated with retinal damage.
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Other Tips For Better Sleep
Using melatonin can help promote a range of support for your sleep behavior and habits. However, when used by itself, its not as effective as when its used with other nighttime behaviors. Here are a few other tips for better sleep that you can incorporate into your daily routine to see maximum results.
First, establish a nighttime routine. This can help your body wind down after a long day of work and responsibilities and get prepared for bed. Think of whatever activities help you relax. Maybe you think of taking a bath, or maybe you think of relaxing yoga or simply performing your skin care routine and changing into your pajamas. Find whatever relaxing activities help you wind down and establish a routine to get your mind and body ready for bed.
Its common for stress and anxiety to keep us up at night as well. When left unaddressed, stress can turn into worrisome thoughts that can be distracting and race through your head as youre trying to fall asleep. So, decompressing and relieving stress before bed is a must. Journaling, yoga, exercise, and meditation are all great ways to help relieve stress.
What Is Melatonin & How Does It Work
Before I give you details on the dosage and when you should take your supplements, lets cover the basics. It is essential that you know what melatonin is, how does it work and why it could be beneficial for your sleep before you start taking it.
Melatonin is a hormone, naturally produced by your brain. Its central role is to help you maintain your bodys circadian rhythm. This means it helps you regulate the natural, daily sleep and wake cycle.
When the sun comes down and the evening starts, your brain increases the production of melatonin. Darkness triggers this clever mechanism, which tells you its time to sleep.
On the other hand, when morning comes, the concentration of this hormone in your brain significantly drops. Therefore, exposure to light affects melatonin production and signals that its time to wake up.
As you can see, your body and your brain are a well-organized system. The melatonin release is their way of communicating an important message when its time to sleep and when its time to be awake.
Studies suggest that a significant percentage of people who struggle with falling and staying asleep might have a problem with melatonin deficiency.
That is why I recommend melatonin supplements as an aid for the regulation of natural sleep and wake cycle.
Even though they might help you achieve better sleep, melatonin supplements should be used in recommended amounts, at the appropriate time of day.
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My Child Is Already On Melatonin Do I Need To Freak Out
I dont think so, as there is little concrete evidence of significant harm. However, if you started melatonin on your own I beg you to discuss it with your childs physician to see if it is really necessary. If your child has been using it long-term and sleeping well, you can consider slowly reducing the dose and seeing if it is still really necessary. Try to use it as needed as opposed to nightly. Also, I would take a hard look at sleep hygiene and ensure that you are ensuring good bedtime processes such as a high quality bedtime routine and avoidance of screen time for at least an hour prior to bedtime. I would try to reduce the dose, and potentially only use it as needed as opposed to nightly.
Benefits The Cardiovascular System
Several studies suggest that melatonin may help to promote cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and promoting more healthy cholesterol levels.16
Your bodys internal clock and the amount of light you are exposed to affect how much melatonin you create. Generally, toward the end of the day, your body naturally creates more melatonin, making you sleepy. By early morning or sunrise, your melatonin levels drop off, causing you to wake up.1
However, your melatonin can easily fluctuate based on various environmental factors. Shorter, darker days in winter can interfere with your natural sleep cycle by causing you to produce melatonin earlier than usual. Recently, blue light from computer and phone screens has become a big problem as it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, which ultimately prevents you from getting a full, restful night of sleep.2
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How Do Our Sleep Patterns Change As We Age
There is a common misconception that people need less sleep with age. The truth is, though, people aged 50 years and older need the same 7-8 hours of sleep.
So, is the sleep of an elderly person different from that of an adult? Due to a decrease in melatonin production, older people need an average of 30 minutes longer to fall asleep. Besides, they often have a more sensitive sleep, which means a shifted balance between REM and non-REM stages as well as an increased likelihood of sleep fragmentation .
Circadian rhythms also shift with age, so the elderly often go to bed earlier than usual and get up earlier too. Sleep patterns changing with age is a normal physiological process, but sleep quality of older people is often significantly disrupted by sleep-related problems or chronic illnesses such as:
- snoring or sleep apnea
- neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimers disease
All these conditions can over time result in a chronic lack of sleep.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Melatonin Overdose
It is important to note that just because a supplement is unlikely to be lethal, that does not mean that unwanted or troubling side effects cannot occur. Concerning symptoms have been reported with higher doses of melatonin.
Possible symptoms of too much melatonin include:
Because melatonin can affect the cardiovascular, dermatologic, and central nervous systems, those with other conditions may be vulnerable to additional risks. Evidence suggests that melatonin supplementation may induce depression, particularly in people predisposed to or currently experiencing this malady. Research on this topic, however, is conflicting, since some studies have demonstrated the potential for melatonin to treat depression.
People taking blood thinners, like warfarin, and benzodiazepines should be careful, as there is a possibility for interaction. Those with epilepsy should also exercise caution, as melatonin has been associated with increased seizures.
Research suggests that elderly people, who have lower natural levels of melatonin, may be more sensitive to the effects of melatonin supplements. Therefore, older people are encouraged to check with their doctor before taking melatonin and start with the lowest possible dose.
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When Should You Take Melatonin
Natural melatonin production in the body typically starts to increase 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. When taking melatonin to sleep better at night, most people find the best method is to take it within two hours of when they want to fall asleep. People who are taking melatonin for shift work or jet lag must calculate the best time of day to take these supplements in order to regulate their unique sleep-wake cycle.
Ensure that you will be able to sleep long enough for the melatonin to wear off when you wake up, and avoid driving or using heavy machinery within four to five hours of taking melatonin supplements.
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.
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Side Effects Of Melatonin
Like any other dietary supplement, melatonin may cause side effects in some peoplepossible side effects include:
Dr. Bollu says drowsiness can mean either excessive sleepiness at night or grogginess the next day. He also adds that interfering with your bodys natural sleep cues may carry another side effect as well.
Taking a hypnotic medication regularly, on a nightly basis, would dampen your innate drive to sleep, explains Dr. Bollu, who adds that although we dont know for certain, this could also be true for melatonin. However, some research suggests melatonin may not dampen this drive in the same way that Ambien, for example, does. When your body recognizes more melatonin in the body, it begins to slow down its own production of melatonin over time. Therefore, short-term use of a melatonin supplement is preferred.
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Drugs Melatonin Can Interact With
- Anticoagulants and antiplatelet medicines, supplements, and herbs & nbsp They are used for the reduction of blood clotting. If you combine them with melatonin, you are increasing the risk of bleeding.
- Anticonvulsants If you have a child with neurological problems, melatonin may inhibit the effects of these drugs.
- Blood pressure drugs Melatonin can potentially worsen your blood pressure in this combination.
- Contraceptive drugs Contraceptive pills might increase both melatonins effects and side effects.
- CNS depressants Melatonin can cause an additive sedative effect when used in combination with CNS depressants.
- Cytochrome P450 1A2 and cytochrome P450 2C19 substrates If you are taking drugs such as diazepam , melatonin might cause additional sleepiness and drowsiness.
- Diabetes medications In this case, melatonin might increase your sugar levels.
- Fluvoxamine When combined with melatonin, fluvoxamine can cause unwanted excessive drowsiness.
- Immunosuppressants Melatonin can boost your immune function and therefore, interfere with your immunosuppressive therapy.
- Seizure threshold lowering medications In this situation, melatonin might increase the risk of seizures.
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