Health Benefits Of Melatonin
Studies have shown that melatonin is safe and effective as a sleep aid. Medications are usually tested on just healthy adults, but researchers have tested melatonin on a lot of people, including children.
Here are what studies have shown about using melatonin for sleep and other possible health benefits of the supplement.
Possible Side Effects Of Melatonin
There are severe side effects of taking melatonin, including drowsiness, headache, dizziness, nausea, and nightmares. Melatonin may also cause agitation and bedwetting in kids.
If you take too much melatonin, you might feel “hungover,” but the feeling usually goes away quickly.
Melatonin might stay active in the body longer in older adults. As a result, they might have daytime drowsiness if they use the supplement.
There are no reports of fatal overdoses caused by melatonin.
The lack of long-term studies means that it’s not known whether melatonin is safe to take for a long time .
Considering Melatonin For Sleep Heres A Guide To Help
Its understandable that you may be struggling to fall asleep these days. Our world has been turned upside down, so it is especially hard to unplug from the day and get the high-quality sleep your body needs.
Almost every single patient Im speaking with has insomnia, said Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, a professor and vice chair in the department of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the U.C.L.A. Sleep Disorders Center. Especially now with Covid-19, we have an epidemic of insomnia. We call it Covid-somnia.
An increase in anxiety in both children and adults is affecting our ability to fall asleep. Additionally, our lifestyles have changed drastically as people observe sheltering in place guidelines. With more people staying indoors, it can mean they are not getting enough light exposure.
Without light exposure in the morning, Dr. Avidan said, people lose the circadian cues that are so fundamentally important in setting up appropriate and normal sleep-wake time.
There are nonmedical ways to help you sleep better: Meditation,turning off screens early in the night, warm showers and cool bedrooms can help your body rest better. But if these options dont work, or if you are ready for the next step, you may have considered trying melatonin supplements. These pills are commonplace enough that you have most likely heard of them and seen them in your local pharmacy.
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A Guide For Melatonin Dosage By Weight
If you find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night, using melatonin supplements may be able to help. Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important part in our circadian rhythms. In other words, the times during which we feel tired and are ready to fall asleep are regulated partially by melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the brain in response to darkness, so once its night, your brain signals for your body to sleep.
If you experience difficulty sleeping or any number of sleep disorders like delayed sleep phase, jet lag, or simply have trouble staying asleep throughout the night, consider melatonin supplements to help support your internal clock and help you get a better nights sleep.
This guide covers everything you need to know about melatonin dosage, how to start taking melatonin to support sleep, and what other behaviors can help you fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. Read on to learn more!
Warnings For Some Serious Health Conditions:
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May Alleviate Migraine Attacks
A migraine attack is a recurring type of headache that causes severe, throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on the side of your head.
Several prescription drugs help treat migraine, but melatonin may also offer relief due to its ability to inhibit pain sensations .
In a review of 11 studies, taking melatonin significantly reduced migraine severity and frequency compared with a placebo in both children and adults, but with varying effectiveness .
A different review of 25 studies found similar results, suggesting that taking 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime reduced migraine frequency in adults .
Melatonin may support eye health, ease tinnitus symptoms, treat acid reflux and GERD, and alleviate migraine attacks, but stronger evidence is needed for these uses.
Is It Safe To Take Melatonin Every Night
Melatonin isnt a sleeping pill, so you may think that its perfectly okay to take every night. But while the supplement may provide the desired results, you shouldnt take it nightly for too long.
While melatonin presents little to no side effects in short-term use, some users may experience dizziness and headaches if using it extensively long term, says Samantha Morrison, a health and wellness expert for Glacier Wellness, a company in Woodmere, New York, that is dedicated to natural and sustainable health products.
Take melatonin for a few days or a few weeks, and then stop for a couple of nights to see if sleep problems improve. Also, make sure youre taking steps to promote a good nights rest. For example, avoid stimulating activities before bed. Keep the lights dim one to two hours before bed. Sleep in a cool, quiet, and dark room.
See a doctor if sleep problems continue after a few weeks. Additionally, stop taking melatonin if you develop side effects, like headaches, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, depression, tremors, low blood pressure, and reduced alertness.
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Next Steps If Youre Not Getting Relief
Taking melatonin supplements alone to treat insomnia wont be as effective as taking melatonin and also working on improving your sleep hygiene, Dr. Avidan said. Sleep hygiene refers to creating an ideal environment that promotes conditions good for sleep.
Powering down electronics and avoiding the news two hours before bedtime.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
Eschewing alcohol and caffeine at night.
Trying to get as much natural sunlight during the day as possible to orient your internal clock.
Dr. Avidan suggests that people both try these habits and take melatonin for two to three weeks to see if it helps.
While melatonin can help with the promotion of sleep, for many it does not, Dr. Salas said.
If you are stumped as to why melatonin isnt working for you, Dr. Salas recommends talking to your physician. She says it may also be time to contact a sleep specialist, as there could be other, more serious sleep issues. Dr. Avidan says he and his colleagues are currently taking virtual appointments for anyone living in the United States, so its worth inquiring whether a sleep specialist can see you remotely.
May Support Eye Health
Healthy indole-derived melatonin levels may support eye health.
Thats because this hormone has powerful antioxidant effects that may lower your risk of eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration .
Indeed, a review concluded that melatonin supplements may reduce AMD by neutralizing free radicals and decreasing inflammation .
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How To Avoid Sleeping Pills
For some people, using sleeping pills is not a favorable option. Some people take other medications that might interact with them. If you are pregnant, you would not want to take something that could potentially harm your baby.
Others are concerned about the potential for addiction to or reliance upon sleeping pills. Moreover, some people dont like the side effects of sleeping pills.
No matter the reason that you decide not to take a sleeping pill, fortunately, you have other options to manage your insomnia. If you dont want to take anything to help you sleep, you can work on changing your sleep habits.
Guidelines to improve sleep hygiene might make it easier to sleep. As part of this, you should keep a regular bedtime and wake time to help reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
You should avoid naps during the day as these might diminish your bodys natural desire for sleep . It is also important to minimize the time you spend awake in bed, a technique called stimulus control.
Moreover, there are alternatives to treat insomnia such as relaxation, biofeedback, and aromatherapy. You might see a psychologist and learn ways to manage your stress and the negative feelings that can be associated with insomnia.
You can transition to sleep easier with the use of guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and other treatments. In addition, the use of familiar and comforting scents with aromatherapy might help you ease into sleep.
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For Sleep Problems In Adults
Your doctor will prescribe 2mg slow-release tablets. These release melatonin gradually into your body during the night.
It’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Your doctor may tell you to take melatonin only 2 or 3 times a week, and not every night.
You’ll usually take melatonin for just a few weeks to help with short-term sleep problems . However, it is sometimes prescribed for up to 13 weeks.
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Additional Steps To Improve Sleep
People with sleeping problems can benefit from taking steps to develop healthy sleep habits. Even if melatonin offers relief, improving their sleep routines and environment known collectively as sleep hygiene can promote durable sleep quality improvement.
Talking with a doctor about melatonin and sleeping problems can also help reveal whether a person has an underlying sleep disorder. For example, raising poor sleep issues or excessive sleepiness may uncover a problem like sleep apnea. Melatonin isnt a therapy for sleep apnea, but in this scenario, working with the doctor can lead to more appropriate and effective treatments.
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.
Be aware of how much caffeine youre consuming during the day and limit your caffeine after noon. Caffeine can stay in your body as long as 10 hours before finally filtering out, which can impact your feelings of tiredness at night.
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Who Can And Cannot Take Melatonin
Melatonin is mainly prescribed for adults aged 55 or over, to help for short-term sleep problems.
It can sometimes be used by adults under the age of 55 and by children, if a doctor recommends it.
It’s not suitable for some people. To make sure melatonin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to melatonin or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- have rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, or any other autoimmune condition
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, told 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,” said Dr. Malow. “In addition, melatonin can be calming and help us ‘turn our brains off.'”
Research backs this up, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health , showing that melatonin supplements can help individuals dealing with conditions such as:
- Delayed sleep phase wake disorder
- Pre-surgery anxiety
- Some sleep disorders for children
Melatonin supplements can be taken orally, but they are also available in the form of creams, gargles, and gels. Additionally, a melatonin supplement may be slow- or fast-release.
Additionally, melatonin is a prescription medication in Europe. However, in the US, it qualifies as a dietary supplement, meaning it’s available over the counter without a prescription at drugstores and health-nutrition retail outlets, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate melatonin very strictly, per the NCCIH.
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How Does Melatonin Work For Insomnia
Scientists are just beginning to understand how well melatonin supplements work for different sleep problems, and when and how much you should take, says Dr. Drerup. Research is ongoing. But we do know that taking melatonin for short periods of time meaning days or weeks is better than a placebo for sleep onset insomnia, or difficulty initially falling asleep.
Melatonin supplements may improve your sleep if you have disrupted circadian rhythms . Melatonin can also be helpful if you are more of a night owl and feel more productive and alert in the evening/night.
How Fast Does Supplemental Melatonin Work
The brain ordinarily makes more melatonin about one to two hours before bedtime and most people start to feel sleepy Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov about two hours after melatonin levels rise. Similarly, most people will feel the effects of supplemental melatonin about two hours after taking it. Most research has studied melatonin given one to two hours before bedtime.
Supplemental melatonin comes in many different forms. The way that a supplement or medicine is made affects how quickly it works Trusted SourceMerck ManualFirst published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, the Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers.merckmanuals.com . Therefore, different types of melatonin supplements may work more quickly or slowly. People considering taking melatonin supplements should talk to their doctors about what form of melatonin may work best for them.
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How Long Does Melatonin Take To Work
Jay Summer is a health content writer and editor. She holds a B.S. in psychology and master’s degrees in writing and public policy.
Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician
Dr. Abhinav Singh
Dr. Singh is the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center. His research and clinical practice focuses on the entire myriad of sleep disorders.
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Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific medication. Always consult your doctor before taking any new medication or changing your current dosage.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the brain that helps people fall asleep at night. It is also available as a dietary supplement that may help people with sleep disorders such as jet lag and insomnia. Melatonin supplements may work best when taken a few hours before an individual wishes to fall asleep.
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.
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