Common Psychological And Medical Causes Of Insomnia
Sometimes, insomnia only lasts a few days and goes away on its own, especially when it is tied to an obviously temporary cause, such as stress over an upcoming presentation, a painful breakup, or jet lag. Other times, insomnia is stubbornly persistent. Chronic insomnia is usually tied to an underlying mental or physical issue.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia. Having difficulty sleeping can also make anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms worse. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma. Treating these underlying problems is essential to resolving your insomnia.
Medical problems or illness. Many medical conditions and diseases can contribute to insomnia, including asthma, allergies, Parkinsons disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancer. Chronic pain is also a common cause of insomnia.
Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine , diuretics, and slimming pills.
When Melatonin Can And Can’t Help
Some people with certain kinds of sleep disorders may get some relief from melatonin, research suggests, but theres less evidence for its use with more common forms of insomnia, according to the NIHs National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
A 2013 meta-analysis found that on average, people with insomnia fell asleep about 7 minutes faster with melatonin than with a placebo. While most melatonin side effects are mild, CRs survey showed that people may be taking it in unsafe ways, for example, driving too soon after taking it or taking it long term when theres little data indicating that longer than three months is safe.
Because of the lack of evidence, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends clinicians not use melatonin as a treatment for insomnia.
But that doesnt mean it cant help anyone.
About 5 to 10 percent of people may feel sleepy after taking melatonin, says Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD, the medical director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center at New York University.
Usually the people that get more benefit are the elderly, maybe 70 or older, and young patients, he says. Thats because older patients and young children are less likely to produce sufficient melatonin on their own, though its important to consult a medical professional before giving a child melatonin. Theres still little research on melatonin in kids and some concern about how it might affect development, especially around puberty.
The Truth About Taking Melatonin To Help You Sleep
Its been a rough day and you must wake up early tomorrow for a breakfast meeting, so you take a melatonin pill, brush your teeth and crawl into bed. Then you stare at the ceiling. And stare. And stare.
Neurologist and sleep medicine specialist John Andrefsky, MD isnt surprised.
Melatonin decreases sleep latency by about six minutes, which is not a lot of time considering people sometimes cant fall asleep for 45 minutes, an hour or two hours, he says. Melatonin affects when you fall asleep, not how quickly.
Dr. Andrefsky says melatonin is more useful in mitigating jetlag than in curing chronic insomnia, so it can be an effective tool for people who travel leisurely or for business.
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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.
Consider Seeking Professional Care
Because the timing that you take melatonin is so important in terms of how it affects your internal clock, I always recommend that people work with a sleep specialist, because if you get it wrong, you can make yourself worse, Martin said.
Whats more, sleep problems and circadian rhythm disorders are often complicated, and turning to over-the-counter products such as melatonin may delay getting necessary treatment. Martin said about the patients who finally reach her: I wish that they had come to see me first before they spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on things that didnt work, and suffered for another year before they got evidence-based help.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said over-the-counter dietary supplements such as melatonin aren’t regulated by the FDA. They are regulated as food, not as drugs. This story has been corrected.
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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 doesnt only mean sunlight, so its a good idea to reduce your screen time at night as well.
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.
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.
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Be Aware Of The Unknowns
Its widely considered safe to take small doses of melatonin or use supplements over short-term periods. But the effects of long-term usage or taking higher doses is less clear.
We dont have information that its unsafe, but we also dont have information that its safe, Martin said.
Wu said hes less concerned about chronic usage if people are sticking to low doses, appropriate timing and quality products.
But another worry is that melatonin, considered a dietary supplement, is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a prescription or over-the-counter drug, which means the FDA is not authorized to review products safety and effectiveness before they reach the market. Experts say this can make it difficult to be certain how much melatonin is in a product and how pure it is.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that the amount of melatonin in supplements often varies widely from what is listed on the label. Of the more than two dozen supplements studied, actual melatonin content ranged from 83 percent less to 478 percent more than the label stated, researchers wrote. The study also reported that amounts within different lots of a particular product varied greatly.
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Tolerance Dosage And Precautions
Melatonin is well tolerated in children. Although theres some concern that long-term use may delay puberty because a natural decline in evening melatonin levels is associated with the onset of puberty more studies are needed .
Melatonin supplements for children are often sold in the form of gummies.
Dosage varies by age, and more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage and effectiveness. Nonetheless, common recommendations are 1 mg for infants, 2.53 mg for older children, and 5 mg for young adults .
Additionally, because researchers dont yet understand the long-term effects of melatonin use in children, it may be best to help your kids implement good sleep practices if those are not already in place before you give them melatonin (
Older adults should be sure to talk with a pharmacist or doctor before taking melatonin.
Melatonin levels naturally decrease as you get older. Supplementing with low doses may help improve sleep quality in older adults.
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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Does Melatonin Really Help You Sleep
This naturally occurring sleep hormone may not be as effective or safe as you think
Sleep troubles have long been a common complaint for Americansand the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have wreaked further havoc on our ability to get a good nights rest.
Fifty-six percent of Americans say theyve experienced an increase in sleep disturbances since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most commonly reporting trouble staying or falling asleep, according to an April 2021 survey of more than 2,000 people by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine . And we hadnt been resting easy before. In 2018, 80 percent of adults in the U.S. said they struggled with sleep at least once a week, according to a nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 1,767 adults.
In searching for relief, many turn to dietary supplements. Just over half of Americans say theyve used supplements, medications, or other substances to help them fall asleep, according to the AASM, with 68 percent saying they used sleep aids more frequently than before.
The most popular supplement for sleep, by far, is melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by the body that governs our sleep-wake cycle. In 2020 melatonin sales grew a staggering 42.5 percent, to $687 million, according to Nutrition Business Journal, perhaps driven just not by the desire for more shut-eye but also by reports suggesting it may help protect against COVID-19.
Is that money well spent?
What Are The Negative Effects Of Melatonin
The most common melatonin side effects include: Headache. Dizziness. Nausea.In addition, melatonin supplements can interact with various medications, including: Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs. Anticonvulsants. Contraceptive drugs. Diabetes medications. Medications that suppress the immune system .
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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.
Try A Different Type Of Melatonin Supplement
As we saw earlier, most melatonin supplements have poor bioavailability. This is in large part because most melatonin supplements are pills. Pills take time and energy to be broken down by your body, and a substantial amount of the supplement they contain wont get absorbed by your body.
Consider trying a melatonin liquid or vaporizer. Both are known to have much better absorption rates than melatonin pills. Youll absorb them more quickly, and youll also absorb more of whats in them, meaning youll need a lower dose of these products than youd need if you were taking a pill.
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Wondering Why Melatonin Doesnt Work For You Heres What The Science Says
So, youve tried some melatonin supplements to help you fall asleep, but you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep with them. Now youre wondering, Why does melatonin not work for me? Thankfully, theres a lot more you can do to get the most out of your melatonin such as trying more effective melatonin supplements or improving your nighttime routine.
In reality, it is possible that melatonin supplements dont work for some people. We estimate that this may be true of about 3-5% of the population. However, if youre not feeling the effects of melatonin, its much more likely youre taking it at the wrong time, youre not taking the right amount, or your habits are working against the melatonin. Read on to learn all the different things you can try before concluding, Melatonin doesnt work on me.
Note: If melatonin alone doesnt work for you, try MELO Sip. MELO Sip combines melatonin with other ingredients like L-Theanine, Valerian root, and Chamomile that help you relax when melatonin alone isnt enough.
In this post, we’ll cover:
Youre Not Absorbing All The Melatonin In Your Supplement
Even if manufacturers are honest about the amount of melatonin in their pills, theres still reason to be skeptical of melatonin that comes in pill form. A clinical trial from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found an average of only 15% bioavailability in 2-4 mg melatonin tablets. So, the vast majority of the melatonin found in pills wont actually get absorbed by your body.
An article from Medicare Europe explains why this is: Pills first need to be broken down by the stomach before the body can absorb anything from them, and this process can take upwards of 30 minutes. Once the pill is broken down, only 39% to 53% of the contents of the pill will get absorbed. The same is likely true of gummy pills, whose bioavailability is similar to that of pills .
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Quick Answer: Why Doesnt Melatonin Work
This might be due to a few factors including that melatonin levels decline with age, which may exacerbate conditions related to circadian rhythm, such as sleep disorders. However, if you have a sleep problem that is caused by anxiety or another hormonal issue, then melatonin may not work to ease your sleep issues.
Natural Sleep Aids When Melatonin Doesnt Work For You
As important as sleep is for our health and overall wellbeing, most of us dont get close to the recommended 79 hours.
Did you know that 35% of U.S. adults dont get the sleep they need each night? Sleep problems are so prevalent in the U.S. that lack of sleep has been dubbed a public health epidemic.
If youre one of the millions of people counting sheep each night and are interested in natural sleep aids that might help, youve likely heard melatonin is one of the best. After all, melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the brain, and it plays a huge role in our natural sleep/wake cycle.
Heres the thing.
Melatonin doesnt work for everyone.
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Relieving Anxiety That Keeps You From Falling Or Staying Asleep
If sleep worries are getting in the way of your ability to unwind at night, the following strategies may help. The goal is to train your body to associate the bed with sleep and nothing elseespecially not frustration and anxiety.
Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex. With many of us working from home now, it can be difficult to avoid, but if possible dont work, use your computer, or watch TV in your bedroom. The goal is to associate the bedroom with sleep alone, so that your brain and body get a strong signal that its time to nod off when you get into bed.
Move bedroom clocks out of view. Anxiously watching the minutes tick by when you cant sleepknowing that youre going to be exhausted when the alarm goes offis a surefire recipe for insomnia. You can use an alarm, but make sure you cant see the time when youre in bed.
Get out of bed when you cant sleep. Dont try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning only amps up your anxiety. Get up, leave the bedroom, and do something relaxing, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath. When youre sleepy, go back to bed.