Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work?
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While you must have come across various brands offering melatonin supplements today, it is a sleep hormone naturally produced in the body that helps you doze off at night. The pineal gland of the brain produces melatonin, and it helps stabilize the body’s internal clock.
Now, melatonin isn’t similar to sleeping pills. They don’t help you hit the peak of your slumber instantly. But it puts your body at ease and enables you to relax your senses. This article is here to unpack everything you need to know about melatonin for sleep.
What Is Melatonin?
As aforementioned, melatonin is produced in the pineal gland to help regulate your sleep. Once the hormone is released from the brain, it enters the bloodstream. Now, melatonin is produced in accordance with the circadian rhythm. When the environment is dark outside, melatonin is produced as a response and stops when there is sunlight.
However, melatonin is also produced in the laboratory as a supplement. It is usually popular amongst those who cannot fall asleep for various reasons, such as shift work or jet lag, and also for those who have insomnia. That said, you must always speak with your healthcare practitioner before taking melatonin supplements for sleep.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin reacts to the darkness to ensure optimal drowsiness. It is one of the reasons why it is essential to stay away from electronics for at least an hour before bed. In fact, dimming the lights can also prove beneficial because light exposure at night can suppress melatonin production, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
However, if your body doesn’t produce melatonin even after maintaining all precautions, you can talk to your doctor about melatonin supplements. They increase melatonin production in the body and give you optimal sleep. But how much melatonin to take for sleep? You can usually take anywhere between 1 to 3 milligrams. But consulting your doctor is crucial here. Who is it for? Well, some people who can benefit from melatonin supplements are;
- If you are experiencing jet lag
- If you work in shifts
- If you suffer from sleep apnea
- Sleep issues in atopic dermatitis children
- If you are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- If you have delayed sleep syndrome
Now you must be wondering how does melatonin work for night shift workers. Chances are they may suffer from a melatonin deficiency, and consuming supplements can help them out. This is only for people experiencing great difficulty sleeping. Here, ask your doctor about taking melatonin supplements. One study showed that taking melatonin supplements helped them fall asleep faster and enjoy break-free sleep.
Melatonin in adults
Adults who have traveled through different time zones and are experiencing jet fatigue or suffer from chronic sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep-wake phase syndrome (DSWPD) may benefit from melatonin.
People with DSWPD find it challenging to fall asleep as their circadian rhythm shifts their sleep routine by several hours. This is a serious condition as people suffering from DSWPD find it excessively difficult to go through regular life functions, such as school and work. But taking low doses of melatonin can be beneficial.
Jet lag occurs when you travel from one timezone to another, for example, taking an intercontinental flight. Here, your body becomes confused about the local day and night. However, melatonin can come in handy if you want to reset the sleep cycle.
Even shift workers find it extremely tough to enjoy an entire sleep cycle. However, not everyone may benefit from melatonin pills. Studies have yet to show any solid results.
Not everyone may benefit from melatonin pills when it comes to insomnia. Some are for it, but organizations like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) are against it due to insufficient data linking insomnia and melatonin supplements.
You may experience side effects, such as dizziness or nausea if you take melatonin supplements. That said, some melatonin pills may work exceptionally well, despite the side effects and inconclusive results. For more, you can speak with your doctor. Melatonin dosage for adults is 1 to 3 milligrams.
Melatonin in children
While melatonin may be beneficial to combat sleeplessness, we don’t have enough information regarding the same due to the lack of research. But a few studies point out how melatonin can be beneficial for youngsters struggling to sleep. It can make them fall asleep faster and enhance their overall sleep quantity. When it comes to melatonin dosage for kids, there are no clear guidelines. However, it is 0.5 to 1 mg.
Melatonin can also benefit children suffering from illnesses, such as epilepsy, or neurodevelopmental issues, like Autism. But research associated with its potential side effects, the right dosage of melatonin, and more are still inconclusive. Therefore, if you think melatonin may benefit your child, you must speak with your child’s doctor first.
But the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests short-term use of melatonin can help children develop a healthy sleep pattern.
These were a few benefits of melatonin in both children and adults!
What is the Appropriate Melatonin Dosage?
Now that you know the melatonin benefits for sleep, let’s proceed to understand the right dosage.
Melatonin is considered a supplement; hence, it is not governed by the FDA. But it is said to always opt for the lowest dosage for a short time. And in children, the dosage must be recommended by the doctor. So, how much melatonin is too much? It is believed that a dosage of 30 mg may be harmful and lead to melatonin overdose.
Benefits of Melatonin for Sleep
Melatonin can be beneficial for certain conditions, which include:
As part of the treatment, melatonin is administered with chemotherapy, either orally or intravenously. In some cancer patients, positive effects have been seen where their tumor sizes have reduced and their survival rates have increased.
According to research, taking melatonin before bed can benefit adults and children and reduce the occurrence of migraines. But we still don’t know if it can be used as a treatment method to combat migraines.
Melatonin is also available as a topical gel. If you have been suffering from severe sunburns, you can apply melatonin gel right before you go to sleep to heal faster.
Treats Anxiety Before Surgery
Taking melatonin supplements before a surgical procedure could help individuals relax and reduce any anxiety symptoms that crop up due to the procedure.
Reduces Blood Pressure
Taking melatonin supplements daily reduced blood pressure in men with essential hypertension. You can speak with your doctor for more information.
Side Effects of Melatonin
Some of the most common side effects of melatonin supplements are;
In children, bedwetting and aggression can be seen as potential side effects. It is believed that taking too much melatonin can give you a hangover. While it doesn’t last long, it can be avoided by adhering to the right dosage and consulting your doctor.
Melatonin may remain active in older adults for a long duration and can make them feel extremely drowsy. Also, we don’t know the long-term effects of the supplement due to the lack of studies.
Is melatonin safe for children?
Yes, melatonin can be a safe supplement for children. However, the dosage is the key here. Consuming more of anything can be harmful. Now, it doesn’t work for every child and there have been almost 800 cases a year of unintentional infestation of melatonin gummies without a significant threat. However, to avoid side effects, you may always consult your doctor and give your child the prescribed amount.
How to Choose Melatonin Supplements
When you opt for over-the-counter melatonin supplements, you will find various brands with different dosages and rules. However, one study showed that there could be major discrepancies in the dosage information of melatonin supplements. And when you rely on incorrect information, it can lead to side effects. Therefore, always go for a reputed brand or consult your doctor. Some things you must keep in mind while going for melatonin supplements are;
- Check the strength of melatonin and the dosage of each serving and if it aligns with the recommended dosage.
- See if it contains pure melatonin or comes with other sleep-inducing vitamins.
- It is available in the form of pills, gummies, and more. See what works best for you.
- Opt for one that is high in quality but fits your budget.
Today, sleep disorders have been a common occurrence due to our lifestyles. While melatonin is produced naturally in our bodies, it is also available as a supplement. So, if you think melatonin supplements can help tweak your sleep cycle, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor today!
Melatonin is good for sleep but you must use it only short-term. Also, you must speak with your doctor to check if it is the right supplement for you.
Some of the negative effects associated with melatonin are;
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Feelings of depression
- Irritability Urinary incontinence at night
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea or constipation
Adults can take between 1 to 3 mg. However, you must speak with your doctor about the right dosage on how to increase melatonin.
People who take blood pressure, diabetes, or antidepressants must not take melatonin as it can worsen the condition.
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