The Dark Side Of Melatonin
Twenty-one years ago, MIT neuroscientist Dr. Richard Wurtman introduced melatonin as a new solution to sleep problems. His lab patented supplements in hopes of curing insomnia in the older population, whose melatonin receptors calcify with age.
Researchers say pills of the natural hormone…will bring on slumber quickly without the addictive effects of drugs, the New York Times reported at the time. In the same article, Judith Vaitukaitis, then director of the National Center for Research Resource, said the hormone offered hope for a natural, non-addictive agent that could improve sleep for millions of Americans.”
Wurtman himself wasnt quite so cavalier. In that same article, he warned, People should not self-medicate with melatonin.
Nonetheless, melatonin was a hit. In the last two decades, the all-natural sleep aid has earned a spot in medicine cabinets across the country. Inexpensive, easily accessible, naturally occurring and considered safe, melatonin appeals to the those whod rather avoid prescribed pills. Naturopaths, chronic insomniacs, shift-workers and frequent fliers pop milligrams of melatonin without thinking twice.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, nearly 1.3 million American adults reported taking melatonin in February, 2015. Parents are even handing it out to their kids 419,000 as of February believing melatonin to be a harmless, naturally produced hormone.
Stops Working In The Light
This hormone is super sensitive to changes in light and dark. “Melatonin stops production when we are exposed to light. So, the more exposure to light we have at night, the more our natural melatonin production is disturbed, resulting in a more disturbed sleep cycle,” says Dr. Mysore. This doesn’t only mean sunlight, so it’s a good idea to reduce your screen time at night as well.
How To Choose Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement and not as a medication. This is a vital distinction because it means that melatonin products are not closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration .
A wide range of brands with varying formulations and dosages are available over-the-counter in groceries and drugs stores, but there are important quality differences to look out for. A study that reviewed 31 melatonin supplements found major inaccuracies in dosage information 71% of the tested products were not within 10% of their listed dosage. An incorrect dose of melatonin can have meaningful consequences including a higher risk of side effects and reduced supplement effectiveness.
Some products labeled as only containing melatonin contained impurities or other compounds, such as serotonin, that can pose health risks. Melatonin is often combined with magnesium, valerian root, or other natural sleep aids in supplements, which may further affect the accuracy of dosages and labeling.
Buyers of supplements should take care when shopping and remember that labels like natural, certified, and verified are not standardized or regulated. Although not a guarantee of safety, certification from organizations like US Pharmacopeia , ConsumerLab.com, or the NSF International Dietary Supplement program can offer confirmation that products have been tested for contaminants or mislabeling.
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Day : I Dragged Throughout The Day
On the third day of the experiment, I was gearing up for a very long day and was excited that my newfound energy, which I was gaining from having a full night’s rest, would help me get through the day.
Despite having slept soundly through the night, that morning I experienced a distinct and lingering residual sleepiness that lasted throughout the entire day.
Unlike grogginess that you experience from p.m. medicine, this daytime sleepiness felt natural. I didn’t feel medicated, I just felt very tired, and this proved to be a problem for my busy day.
I had to compensate with coffee and push through my packed schedule to get things done.
Around bedtime, I took the melatonin and fell immediately asleep for another uninterrupted night of sleep.
May Help Increase Growth Hormone Levels In Men
Human growth hormone is naturally released during sleep. In healthy young men, taking melatonin may help increase HGH levels.
Studies have shown that melatonin can make the pituitary gland, the organ that releases HGH, more sensitive to the hormone that releases HGH .
In addition, one small study showed that both lower and higher melatonin doses are effective at stimulating HGH release .
Another study found that 5 mg of melatonin combined with resistance training increased the levels of HGH in men while lowering the levels of somatostatin, a hormone that inhibits HGH .
Melatonin may support eye health, ease tinnitus symptoms, treat stomach ulcers and heartburn, and increase growth hormone levels in young men. Speak with a healthcare professional first if youre considering melatonin supplementation to help treat any of the conditions mentioned to learn if its right for you and whether there are any medication interactions.
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May Support Eye Health
Healthy indole-derived melatonin levels may support eye health.
It has powerful antioxidant benefits that could help lower the risk of eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration .
In one study, scientists asked 100 people with AMD to take 3 mg daily of melatonin over 6 to 24 months. Taking melatonin daily seems to protect the retinas and delay damage from AMD, without any significant side effects (
Future studies will help clarify how effective melatonin is in treating stomach ulcers and heartburn.
What Are The Benefits Of Checking Melatonin Levels
There are many benefits to making yourself aware of your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a super clever and versatile hormone that can help with anxiety and depression, relieve pain from chronic disease, prevent cancer cell growth, and decrease the effects of estrogen on tumor growth. With so many amazing benefits, its in your best interest to check your melatonin leveland supplement if necessary.
Your melatonin levels can be checked with a blood, saliva, or urine test. A common method of testing involves collecting a saliva sample at around ten oclock in the evening. Thats the time when your melatonin level should be at its highest.
This test isnt always readily available at a standard medical clinic or doctors office. You may need to find a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor. They will interpret the results of your test and help you create a supplemental melatonin plan.
Normal levels of melatonin vary throughout the twenty-four hour in a day. There is still some argument over whether its best to measure melatonin levels using blood, urine, or saliva.
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Day : I Was Feeling Positive About Melatonin’s Effects
On day two, I had a pretty busy day scheduled. I woke up feeling like I had an amazing night’s sleep. Although I did feel a bit of sleepiness in the morning, I couldn’t tell if that was the melatonin or the fact that I’d slept so well I just didn’t want to get out of bed.
That evening, I took melatonin about a half hour before bedtime and fell asleep quickly and easily.
When To Take Your First Dose Of Melatonin
If youâve been having trouble sleeping lately, whether itâs caused by changes in your schedule, new stress or just restless thoughts, you may be considering adding melatonin to your nighttime routine as a solution. Vicks ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs Melatonin is a great choice when youâre dealing with occasional sleeplessness, because it is drug-free and non-habit-forming. So, getting started with melatonin is easy, but when should you take it? Because you donât know how your body will react to melatonin, consider taking your first dose when you donât have to be active the next morning, like on a weekend, so you can see how your body adjusts to the additional boost. The best time to take melatonin is when you can sleep for at least six hours. With less than six hours of sleep, the additional melatonin may leave you groggier than usual and tired the next day. Therefore, you do not want to take melatonin in the morning or when you wonât be able to sleep long enough.
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Melatonin Is A Key Recommendation In Covid
There are a number of important nutritional considerations in both the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. There is one that really stands out to me that has not received the same sort of promotion as others like vitamin D and zinc. The title of this newsletter gives it away. I am referring to melatonin as a critical supplement in the battle against this virus. It makes sense, melatonin exerts significant immune enhancing effects and patients at highest risk, e.g., the elderly and those with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and various other chronic diseases are all associated with melatonin deficiency. Preliminary evidence discussed in this newsletter will highlight the use of melatonin as safe and potentially valuable in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
Melatonin is a compound that is produced by the brains pineal gland that is well-known as a natural sleep aid. Sleep is obviously critical to proper immune function, but melatonins immune enhancing effects go well beyond helping people sleep better. Melatonin is very important in protecting the cells that line the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract from infection and damage. In fact, these cells produce more than 400 times the amount of melatonin each day as the brain does. Melatonin does not directly kill viruses, but it does have indirect anti-viral actions via its effects on the immune system. It also works closely with vitamin D3 in regulating the immune response.
Side Effects Of Melatonin Interactions
- Sleepiness and drowsiness with sedative medication the interaction between sedative medications or depressants and melatonin can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and drowsiness. It is essential you avoid taking melatonin with medications like lorazepam, clonazepam, zolpidem, etc.
- Wakefulness with caffeine combining melatonin with caffeine may result in decreased melatonin effects. Caffeine will overpower melatonin, so instead of sleepy, one might feel more wakeful and alert.
- Increased blood sugar with diabetes medication because melatonin increases blood sugar levels, and the diabetic medication lowers it, it can completely overpower the effectiveness of diabetes medication. This can lead to some serious issues in diabetic patients, who should avoid taking melatonin with insulin, glimepiride, glipizide, rosiglitazone, etc.
- Bleeding risk with anticoagulants because melatonin slows down blood coagulation, it should be smart to avoid taking it together with medication that has the same effects. The combination of anticoagulants with melatonin may cause bleeding and bruising. Such medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, enoxaparin, heparin, diclofenac, etc.
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Does Melatonin Cause Bad Or Vivid Dreams
In general, you might have more vivid dreams if youre anxious or stressed. Certain sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, and taking medications such as beta blockers and antihistamines, can also lead to an increase in vivid dreams and/or nightmares.
However, according to Dr. Drerup, its unclear if taking extra melatonin before going to bed causes bad or vivid dreams. Theres no conclusive evidence as to how exactly your dreams are affected by taking melatonin supplements, she says.
How To Avoid Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills are not right for everyone. They can interact with other drugs. If you are pregnant, they may harm your unborn baby.
You may also be concerned about the potential for addiction. Or, you may dislike the side effects.
Fortunately, there are other ways to manage insomnia. You may find it helpful to simply change your sleep habits.
Start by keeping a regular bedtime and wake time. This will help reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
Avoid naps during the day. Naps can reduce your bodys natural desire for sleep.
It can also help to reduce the time you spend awake in bed. This is called stimulus control. Use your bed only for sex and sleep. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy.
Other alternatives for treating insomnia include:
- Biofeedback, a therapy that uses sensors to measure your body’s functions
- Aromatherapy, a form of sleep therapy that uses scents
- Guided imagery, a relaxation technique
- Progressive muscle relaxation
A psychologist may also be able to help. Therapy can help you learn to manage any stress and negative feelings associated with insomnia.
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Consider Melatonin Sleep Help For Occasional Insomnia
Even sound sleepers have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once in a while, Buenaver says. You may want to try melatonin for sleep if you have difficulty for more than a night or two. Research shows that a supplement may help people with insomnia fall asleep slightly faster and may have bigger benefits for those with delayed sleep phase syndromefalling asleep very late and waking up late the next day.
When Melatonin Doesnt Work
Melatonin supplements are a popular way to get some shut-eye. But what if these supplements dont work? Believe it or not, this is a common problem. However, there are other solutions that can help you get some rest at night. Below, you will learn more about melatonin- and what to do when melatonin doesnt work.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. This hormone helps your body control its sleep cycle. Basically, melatonin is the chemical that makes a person feel sleepy.
Our bodies produce melatonin. However, melatonin tablets are also sold in drugstores as sleep supplements. People take these as a more natural alternative to sleeping pills. While many people use melatonin tablets once in a while, others use this supplement every night.
When Melatonin Doesnt Work Anymore
People who take melatonin daily might not see a reason to stop. After all, melatonin is natural, right? While we do indeed produce our own melatonin, our bodies can also become used to taking melatonin supplements. Taking too many can limit the amount of the hormone that our brain produces on its own. If you find your melatonin doesnt work anymore, then it might be time to cut back.
Work With a Professional
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Why Melatonin Is Bad For You
If its all natural, why is melatonin bad for you? my mom asked, when I expressed my concern with this supplement after learning that she takes it on-and-off for her insomnia. Boy, have I got a blog post for you! I replied.
In short, melatonin is a hormone that correlates with sleep cycles and plays beneficial roles in numerous physiological functions. But melatonin supplements are neither a safe, natural nor effective solution to insomnia.
What Is The Appropriate Dosage Of Melatonin
There is no consensus about the optimal dosage of melatonin although most experts advise to avoid extremely high dosages. In studies, dosages range from .1 to 12 milligrams . A typical dose in supplements is between one and three milligrams, but whether this is appropriate for any specific person depends on factors like their age and sleeping problems. You may find melatonin in dosages of micrograms , 1000 mcg is equivalent to 1 mg.
Some people experience daytime sleepiness when using melatonin as a sleep aid. If you experience this, it could be that your dosage is too high. Its advisable to start with the lowest dosage possible and work your way up gradually under the supervision of your doctor.
The AAP advises against dosages above 3-6 mg for children and states that many young people respond to small doses of .5 to 1 mg. Some studies have found benefits to lower doses in adults as well.
Oral supplements can bring the levels of melatonin in the blood to levels much higher than is normally produced by the body. For example, dosages between 1-10 mg can raise melatonin concentrations to anywhere from 3 to 60 times typical levels. For this reason, people taking melatonin should use caution before ingesting high doses.
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Lets Make It Work: Whats The Proper Melatonin Dosage
Another explanation for why melatonin may not be your sleep-saving grace is the issue of dosing.
While researchers have studied appropriate melatonin doses, the FDA does not regulate the manufacture and sale of melatonin supplements. This is why you can find melatonin pills in as little as 0.1 mg and up to 10 mg.
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There is not currently a scientific consensus on the accurate dosage of melatonin. Research reveals that 0.3 mg of the supplement is sufficient for improvement of your sleep cycle, but some supplements sell tablets up to 10 mg.
Most people take WAY too much melatonin!
Taking a typical over-the-counter dose of 13 mg may elevate your blood level of melatonin from 1 to 20 times the normal amount.
It is risky to take melatonin at a high dose consistently. Some experts believe taking melatonin regularly at very large doses may desensitize the receptors in the brain.9
Desensitizing the melatonin receptors in the brain may not only create a potential for tolerance but also make insomnia worse.
To your health,
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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