Are Melatonin Supplements Safe To Use
Melatonin supplements are largely considered safe, but there are some things to keep in mind. The fact that its a supplement means that its not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration . The label may say melatonin but the bottle may not have any functional melatonin, warns Bradley Vaughn, MD, professor of sleep medicine and epilepsy at the UNC School of Medicine. To make sure youre getting what youthinkyoure getting, look for supplements with a seal that saysUSP Dietary Supplement Verified. The United States Pharmacopeia is a highly trusted third-party laboratory that rigorously tests supplements to ensure that they contain exactly what the label says.
You should also talk to your doctor before starting melatonin supplements theyll confirm that its safe based on your medical history, conditions and other medications. Like all supplements, melatonin can interfere with certain medications. Specifically, melatonin can interfere with certain anticoagulants, diabetes medications and immunosuppressants.
Are There Side Effects
The good news: In the short term, at least, melatonin is unlikely to do any harm.
Compared to most other sleeping pills, the side-effect profile is much better, and its not going to be addictive, said Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, an associate professor of psychiatry and a consultant at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. But because melatonin can cause drowsiness, the Mayo Clinic warns that you shouldnt drive or operate machinery within five hours of taking it.
What To Know About Dietary Supplements And Safety
The FDA classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, meaning that its regulated less strictly than a regular drug. For dietary supplements, label claims and product safety dont have to meet FDA approval before theyre marketed.
A 2017 study of 31 different melatonin supplements found that the actual melatonin content of 71 percent of the products didnt match the claim on the label. Additionally, 26 percent of products contained serotonin, which can be potentially harmful even in small doses.
When shopping for melatonin supplements, look for products that are USP verified. United States Pharmacopeia is an independent organization that works to ensure proper quality and dosing of dietary supplements.
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Is It Safe To Take Every Night
While melatonin is considered generally safe for short-term use, like occasional insomnia or getting over jet lag, many people take melatonin every night. Thats concerning if you consider that your nightly dose may be many times higher than what you intended or what the label promised. Experts caution that little is known about the effects of long term use of melatonin. If youre regularly having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor for advicethey may suggest other options, such magnesium and l-theanine, says Krieger. As with any other sleep medications, the long-term use of supplements should be guided by a specialist, she says.
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.
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What Else Is Important To Know About Melatonin
In order for natural melatonin to be truly effective, it’s best to be in a dark setting and limit light exposure because light prevents the hormone from doing its job, according to Ju.
“The effect of light on suppressing the melatonin that people have already in their brains is very strong, meaning the effect of light is probably 10 times that of melatonin,” says Ju. “Before someone takes melatonin, I would recommend that they actually work on their light exposure in the hour or so before bed time.”
Though taking a melatonin additive every day doesn’t generally lead to adverse effects, sometimes extra melatonin isn’t needed, says Ju. Here’s what she recommends doing before reaching for a supplement:
- Limit light exposure, especially blue light exposure from the screens of electronics, an hour before bed
- Stick to a regular bed time and wake time
- Follow a peaceful bedtime routine that helps calm your senses
“I think it’s very effective when people build in time to relax, journal, meditate, stretch, whatever it is that works for each individual to help them calm down the stresses of the day, so that they’re getting into bed calm and peaceful,” says Ju.
It’s Natural But You Shouldn’t Take It Indefinitely
“Many people view melatonin as a vitamin, something you take every day for good sleep,” says Charissa Chamorro, PhD, a New York-based clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and sleep issues. But there’s actually very little research looking at the long-term use of melatonin, and taking this supplement indefinitely has the potential to cause side effects.
“Some people suggest that long-term use makes your own brain reduce its natural melatonin production but the reality is that this hasn’t been routinely proven in research,” Harris says.
The bottom line? “Melatonin should only be used to target short-term sleep issues,” Chamorro says. “And ideally you should consult with your physician about dosage and timing before taking it.”
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What Is Melatonin What Does Melatonin Do
Melatonin is a hormone which is naturally produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It is both a chronobiotic agent, meaning that it regulates your circadian or body clock and a hypnotic, meaning that at higher doses it may induce sleep. Melatonin is usually used for its hypnotic effect, but it does not have this effect in everyone. Only the chronobiotic effect occurs in all individuals.The natural rise of melatonin levels in the body 1-3 hours before sleep onset is known as the dim light melatonin onset . This is the signal involved in body clock scheduling of sleep and corresponds to the end of the wakefulness signal produced by the circadian system. Children with insomnia may be given melatonin after their scheduled bedtime passes what this means is that their bodies are not yet ready for sleep. This is one reason why bedtime fading can be so effective for some children. The doses used clinically greatly exceed the amount secreted in the body.
There are a few things to be aware of:
Heres a short video I put together to explain how when you give the melatonin dose really matters. .
Does Melatonin Affect Our Dreams
Far and away, the most common side effect that I have patients report to me is that their dreams just become much more vivid, Dr. Abbott said. Scientists arent sure why that happens.
Dr. Kolla has also seen patients who have nightmares or disruptive dreams, which are also common with sleeping pills. In that case, you want to try to lower the dose, he said. Or, if its too problematic, stop.
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What Is Melatonin And Why Would I Take It
Melatonin is a hormone that our body makes when it gets dark, to let our brain know its time to sleep. When its light, our body makes less melatonin, which helps us to wake up. So, our internal body clock is partly controlled by the levels of melatonin in our body.
Because melatonin helps with our patterns of sleeping and waking, man-made melatonin supplements can help people who are having trouble sleeping in the short term.
Melatonin Dosage And Absorption
Melatonin supplements are available in a variety of doses and formulations in the United States. While variety offers consumers more options, it can make it harder for researchers to study. The dosage and formulation of a specific melatonin supplement can affect how long it takes 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 for the supplement to work.
Researchers have also found that the actual concentrations of some melatonin supplements varied significantly from the labeled concentrations. As a result, the actual time it takes for melatonin to affect the body may be different than anticipated.
A strategy to confirm the accuracy of melatonin labeling is to purchase reputable supplements verified by the United States Pharmacopeia . The USP is a non-profit organization that checks the quality and dosage of supplements.
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Use Melatonin Sleep Supplements Wisely And Safely
Less is more, Buenaver says. Take 1 to 3 milligrams two hours before bedtime. To ease jet lag, try taking melatonin two hours before your bedtime at your destination, starting a few days before your trip. You can also adjust your sleep-wake schedule to be in sync with your new time zone by simply staying awake when you reach your destinationdelaying sleep until your usual bedtime in the new time zone. Also, get outside for natural light exposure. Thats what I do, Buenaver says.
Food Sources Of Melatonin
You can also increase your bodys melatonin levels by adding a few key foods to your diet. Montmorency tart cherries are the richest food source of melatonin, according to an analysis of various plants at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. A British study of 20 people found that drinking tart cherry juice significantly raised melatonin levels and improved sleep, compared to a placebo.
At Louisiana State University, scientists found that drinking 8 oz. of Montmorency tart cherry juice in the morning, and again 12 hours before bedtime, increased sleep time by 84 minutes among people with insomnia. Although juices contain much smaller amounts of melatonin than supplements, they can exert beneficial effects on sleep.
Melatonin is also found in tiny quantities in other plant foods, including coffee, although caffeine counteracts its sleep-inducing effects. Finnish researchers who examined how nutrition affects melatonin noted, It has been demonstrated that some nutritional factors, such as intake of vegetables, caffeine, and some vitamins and minerals, could modify melatonin production but with less intensity than light, the most dominant synchronizer of melatonin production. They identified B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fats as nutrients that support naturally healthy melatonin levels.
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Is It Bad To Give Your Child Melatonin Every Night
Putting your child to sleep may be your favorite routine or your worst nightmare depending on your kids inclination to sleep! Often, you are exhausted, your child refuses to sleep or sleeps fitfully through the night and you are tempted to give them something.
Many parents consider over-the-counter medications to help with their kid’s 40 winks, but is that really a good idea? Most doctors do not agree, and their reasons are fair! Although doctors prescribe melatonin in kids who have insomnia along with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , melatonin should not be used in the following cases:
- Healthy children without sleep problems promote restful sleep
- Teenagers in an attempt to force sleep onset to accommodate early school start times
How Do You Pick A Reliable Brand Of Melatonin
A study found that the content of more than 70 percent of melatonin supplements varied widely from their label claims. The concentration ranged from 83 percent less than the amount listed to 478 percent more.
Dr. Kolla advised looking for a GLP or GMP label, which refers to federal regulations designed to affirm a product has the advertised quality and purity. You really dont know what youre getting, so youre trusting the manufacturer, he said. Melatonin comes in pills, gummies or liquid the choice comes down to personal preference, he added.
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How Long Does Melatonin Stay In Your System
The half-life of melatonin is between 20 and 50 minutes, meaning half of the initial dosage in the body is eliminated after that amount of time. In total, melatonin stays in your system for about four to five hours.
One small study examined melatonin levels in blood samples from a group of healthy male adults after taking an oral 10 milligram dose of the supplement. The researchers found that on average melatonin levels dropped to zero after five hours Trusted SourceNational Center for Biotechnology InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov .
However, a number of factors can affect how long it takes for the body to process melatonin, including a personâs age, the melatonin dose, and whether it is a fast- or extended-release formulation. Further research can offer more insight as to how these and other factors influence how long melatonin stays in the body.
How Does It Work
Melatonin supplements may improve sleep by boosting melatonin levels in people whose bodies do not produce enough of this hormone.
These supplements may also improve sleep in people who produce enough melatonin but still struggle to sleep for other reasons.
Melatonin changes how the body responds to darkness, helping it enter a rhythm of nighttime drowsiness.
Exposure to light at night including light from computer and television screens may suppress the bodys natural melatonin production and disrupt sleep.
Likewise, people who sleep during the day because they work at night may not produce melatonin when it is time to sleep. Melatonin supplements can help counteract this effect.
Research consistently shows that melatonin can help people sleep longer and fall asleep more quickly.
Although melatonin is a natural chemical, it is important to treat it the same as any other medication. It is possible for melatonin to interact harmfully with other drugs by reducing their effectiveness, triggering negative side effects, or changing the way that the body metabolizes the drug. People who take other medications should talk to a doctor before trying melatonin.
As with any medication, an allergic reaction is possible. People with a history of allergic reactions to supplements should avoid melatonin.
of melatonin in children show that it is safe, including in children with autism.
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Is It Bad To Take Melatonin Every Night
Regardless of whether it truly helps with sleep or not, Dr. Ramkissoon doesn’t recommend taking melatonin long-term.
“Namely, because if you think you need to take melatonin every night to get to sleep, we need to understand why that’s the case,” explains Dr. Ramkissoon.
Is poor sleep caused by a lifestyle habit that needs correcting or some underlying issue that needs to be addressed?
“Melatonin isn’t a long-term fix for sleep issues,” Dr. Ramkissoon adds. “If you’re consistently suffering from insomnia, we need to determine why and find an effective solution for it.”
What’s more is that the safety of using melatonin long-term hasn’t been established in well-controlled studies.
And while the occasional, short-term use of melatonin such as to combat jet leg or adjust to shift work does appear to be safe for most people, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Don’t take melatonin if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. And know that these supplements can interact with other medications, such as some blood thinners, and that they may not be safe to take if you have certain health conditions.
“It’s always important to consult your doctor before taking a new supplement,” adds Dr. Ramkissoon.
Do Electronic Devices Alter Melatonin Levels
Light at night blocks the production of melatonin, and this has been shown to cause sleep disturbances in people who use electronics that emit light at night. Researchers have found that light from electronic devices can block the release of natural hormone melatonin at night. The effect was most significant for younger children, with nighttime levels reduced by up to 37 percent in certain cases. This can also be problematic for children between ages 9 and 16.
Studies show that light after dark lowers melatonin levels which may lead to difficulty in initiating sleep. Electronic light-emitting devices such as the television, laptops, smartphones and tablets often find their way into the bedroom at night, or are used after dark. Children should not have electronics, including TVs, in their bedroom at bedtime and everyone should avoid use of light-emitting devices and screen time at least one hour before bedtime.
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Melatonin Dose For Children
Broadly speaking, Dr. Goldman doesnt have recommendations for children when using melatonin. In most cases with teens or younger children, trouble falling asleep is a behavioral issue or it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. In these cases, Dr. Goldman recommends working with a pediatrician or sleep medicine provider to diagnose the problem before using melatonin.
Get The Sleep You Need Without Melatonin
You shouldnât rely on the use of melatonin supplements to fall asleep night after night. Instead, turn to them as a short-term solution to help you recover from jet lag or shift your sleep schedule.
As melatonin affects us all differently and more research needs to be done, getting the timing right can be tricky. Try taking melatonin about four to five hours before your normal bedtime to bring your sleep schedule forward and at your usual wake up time to push it back.
For the rest of your nights, harness your brainâs natural melatonin to get a good nightâs sleep. The RISE app can help by reminding you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits based on your circadian rhythm and telling you when your Melatonin Window will be each night.
This way, youâll have all the melatonin youâll need for a better sleep, maximizing your energy levels the next day.
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