Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia. The lack of adequate sleep can lead to many complications, from feeling tired all day long to serious health conditions. Getting enough sleep is essential, but how can you get enough hours in when your body won’t let you settle down? There’s no need to turn to dangerous medications. Melatonin, a natural sleep aid, can help you solve your troublesome sleep woes. Read on to find out what melatonin is, whether or not it is safe, and if it is a good option for you.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone your body produces. It is released into your body through the pineal gland. It helps your body to distinguish between daytime and nighttime, telling it when it is time to sleep or wake up. Typically, the body produces more of the melatonin hormone at night. For some people, the pineal gland does not release enough melatonin. For example, as you age, the production of melatonin decreases. This is just one cause of decreased melatonin levels. As your body produces less, sleeping becomes more and more difficult. Melatonin supplements work to counter that problem by adding the melatonin levels your body needs and should be making on its own.
Does Melatonin Work?
Yes, melatonin supplements do help induce sleep. The question is, how? Melatonin is naturally produced as is darkens outside. This is an indicator of your body that sleep time is approaching, and it is time to settle down. However, for many people, not enough melatonin is produced. Taking a melatonin supplement anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime can be helpful. It will work together with your body’s circadian rhythm to let your body know it is time to sleep.
What Are the Real Benefits of Melatonin?
The primary benefit of melatonin is that is can help you sleep better or fall asleep faster. However, there are also other health benefits, completely unrelated to sleep. For exa mple, some studies have shown that melatonin may have some benefits in improving certain eye and visual complications.
Melatonin may also be beneficial to those suffering from stomach ulcers. The supplement has been linked to treating heartburn, as well.
How to Use Melatonin
The safest way to take melatonin is to take no more than 1mg to 3mg about two hours before bedtime. It is best not to take more than the recommended dosage. In addition, you should be careful not to turn to melatonin as a regular solution. Instead, it should be used only intermittently for short-term help with sleep.
Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your sleep cycle. Taking too much at one time or over an extended period of time may cause more harm than good.
When to Take Melatonin?
It is best to take melatonin anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before you would like to get to bed. This will give the supplement time to work. It takes 30 minutes to be properly absorbed into the body. Your body naturally produces melatonin about two hours before bedtime, so even a half-hour after taking it, you may not fall into a deep sleep immediately.
Melatonin is ideal if you have had several sleepless nights or if you are dealing with jet lag. To help your body adjust to a new daytime-nighttime schedule, melatonin can do the trick.
What Is the Correct Dose of Melatonin?
Most people who can take melatonin are safe with a dosage between 1mg and 3mg. Some physicians may recommend up to 5mg, but it is important not to make such a decision on your own.
Different doses are needed for different people. The dosage is based on a variety of factors. The decision to take more than the recommended dosage of a melatonin supplement should only be made by your healthcare provider.
Is Melatonin Safe?
This answer is complicated here. While melatonin is generally safe for most healthy individuals, it is not recommended for everyone. Certain health conditions may make melatonin a dangerous choice for some individuals, whereas it might be harmless to another.
And, of course, melatonin is only safe when you respect the dosage guidelines. Taking too much melatonin can have a negative impact on your sleep – and much worse!
Can You Overdose on Melatonin?
Taking too much melatonin will not result in a life-threatening overdose, per se, though it may have some adverse and very irritating side effects. Too much melatonin can actually make your sleep problems worse. If you are taking it to improve your sleep, you definitely want to avoid over-consuming it.
Taking too much melatonin can also cause grogginess, headaches, a slight increase in blood pressure, upset stomach, diarrhea, abnormal cramping, daytime fatigue, transient depression, and general irritability. Too much melatonin may also reduce sperm count in men and cause other fertility difficulties in women.
Is Melatonin Addictive?
To date, there are no studies proving melatonin to be habit-forming, nor does it leave individuals suffering from withdrawal. However, because it is a hormone supplement, it is still important to look out for signs or symptoms of over-consumption.
Can Melatonin Interact With Other Substances?
Yes, melatonin may interact with several other substances and medications. For example, melatonin may interfere with immunosuppressants. This can lead to organ rejection in the case of transplant patients, or worsen immune diseases in others. Melatonin may also interact with certain anticoagulants, benzodiazepines, and other medications. To make sure you are not at risk, be sure to ask your pharmacist before taking melatonin.
Who Should Not Take Melatonin?
Though generally a safe, natural supplement, melatonin is not safe for some people. Pregnant women are not advised to take melatonin. Transplant patients, individuals suffering from immune system disorders, liver problems, seizure disorders, depression, or hypertension should not take melatonin – especially without consulting a physician first.
Melatonin is not recommended for young people under the age of 20. As melatonin is a hormone, it may have some adverse effects on development that are still unknown. It is not safe for children to consume melatonin.
Common Melatonin Supplements
The most common form of melatonin is an easy dissolve tablet or capsule. There are also sublingual tablets, liquids, and combination products, which are blended with other supplements or herbs.
Melatonin pills are the most common. They can come in easy to swallow capsules or easy dissolve tablets that are either placed on or beneath the tongue.
CBD and Melatonin
You may also find melatonin combined with CBD on the market. Not much is known about the effects of combining CBD and melatonin, though it is generally not recommended to combine sedatives. Some preliminary studies show it may have some positive effect on sleep, but a more comprehensive look into the combination supplement is still needed.
Melatonin drops are easy to take and easily absorbed by the body. They are a great alternative to tablets or pills.
Melatonin Side Effects
As with anything you take, melatonin may have some side effects on some people. These are some of the most commonly noted side effects of melatonin:
- Joint pain
- Grogginess or daytime fatigue
Be Safe With Melatonin
To make sure you minimize your risk of developing complications of side effects, be safe with melatonin. That means resecting the dosage recommendations. It also means understanding that melatonin is to be used occasionally rather than regularly. You should also start with the lowest possible dose and work your way up to more.
You should not consider melatonin as a long-term fix to insomnia. Melatonin may help, but you should also try other methods to help you sleep.
How Can I Make the Most of the Melatonin I Do Take?
The best way to maximize your intake of melatonin is to combine with other factors that also induce proper sleep. You can start by shutting off all of your devices at least one hour before bed. Avoid stimulants throughout the day and limit coffee to one cup per day.
You may also want to consider working on reducing or relieving stress and dealing with issues like anxiety or depression. These underlying issues may be the root cause of your insomnia. Working to treat those causes is the best way to see positive results.
When to Stop Taking Melatonin
If you have been taking melatonin for a week or two and have not yet seen any improvement in your sleep cycle, it is recommended that you stop taking it. It may not be working well for you. It may even be hindering your ability to get a good night’s rest.
Melatonin and Children
Many children taking medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can have trouble sleeping at night. This may be the result of their ADHD medications or the ADHD itself. Regardless, it is still not advisable to give children melatonin to help them sleep. The full effects on the effects of melatonin on hormonal development have not been thoroughly studied and remain unknown. If your child is having difficulty sleeping, it is best to either adjust the dosage of their ADHD medications (with their doctor’s supervision and guidance, of course) or help them release their energy in various ways through physical fitness.
Some healthcare providers may prescribe melatonin for some children. If this is prescribed to your child, ask your medical practitioner why this is being recommended, and if there are any alternatives that you can try first.
Is Melatonin FDA-Approved?
Melatonin is a dietary supplement, not a medication. That means the FDA does not closely regulate it. To ensure you are using melatonin safely, look for a supplement that does not offer a combination with other supplements or medications.
You should also speak with the pharmacist about your health and the risks or side effects of taking a melatonin supplement before you try it. You should also be on the lookout for side effects. Just because it is a natural supplement, does not mean it cannot have adverse effects on your health.
Is Melatonin Right for You?
Melatonin can be a helpful sleep aid, but it is not right nor is it recommended, for everyone. The only way to be sure melatonin is safe for you is to meet with your physician and discuss it. Melatonin is not right for everyone. The only way to be sure you are not putting yourself at risk is to trust your physician.
And of course, remember that melatonin is a short-term solution to difficulty sleeping. It is not a forever solution. If you are suffering from sleepless nights regularly, you may want to consider alternative solutions. These may include reducing your caffeine intake, adding in more physical activity, and reducing stress and anxiety in your life.