Our brain produces the melatonin hormone in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of our 24-hour internal clock, i.e., circadian rhythms and sleep. At night, being exposed to light can block melatonin production.
The melatonin hormone plays a significant role in your natural sleep-wake cycle. At night, natural melatonin levels in the blood are highest. Some research suggests that melatonin supplements might help treat sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase, and relieve jet lag and insomnia.
Melatonin is most effective in treating circadian rhythm sleep disorders. These disorders are related to your sleep or awake timing. Your body uses this hormone to produce a shift in your sleep’s timing or trick your brain into believing it’s nighttime.
Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use. Unlike many sleep medications, you are unlikely to become dependent on melatonin, have a diminished response after habituation, or experience a hangover effect.
The most common long-term melatonin side effects include:
- Mild tremor
- Mild anxiety
- Abdominal cramps
- Reduced alertness
How Does Melatonin Work?
The main job of melatonin is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles in the body. The body produces more melatonin in the darkness, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. In contrast, light decreases the production of melatonin and signals the body to prepare for being awake. People having trouble sleeping suffer from low levels of melatonin. So, adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep.
Dosage And Preparations
At many pharmacies and health supplement stores, melatonin is available as tablets, gummies, lozenges, tinctures, and other preparations. It is typically sold in doses in various ranges from 1 mg to 10 mg, and there is no regular recommended amount for melatonin.
Healthcare professionals recommend starting with the lowest doses and slowly increasing your intake until you find the amount that suits you. In various research studies, 3 mg melatonin is the standard dose.
Melatonin is available without a prescription so that you can purchase it as a dietary supplement, but the FDA does not regulate it as a prescription or a common medication.
Tips To Consider
- The dietary supplements regulations are different and less strict than the prescription or over-the-counter drugs even though the FDA classifies nutritional supplements, such as melatonin.
- It’s essential to see your health care provider before taking any supplement or medicine, including melatonin, if you’re pregnant or nursing a child.
- If you suffer from any medical problems or have surgery, some dietary supplements may interact with medicines or pose risks.
- Read and follow label instructions if you use nutritional supplements, such as melatonin.
- Take care of your health; Talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches.
Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?
There are various concerns regarding melatonin’s safety in kids.
For short-term use, melatonin supplements appear safe for most children, but there aren’t many facts on children and melatonin. Besides, there’s little information on the long-term effects of melatonin use in kids, as melatonin is a hormone. Its supplements could affect hormonal development, including menstrual cycles, puberty, and the hormone prolactin’s overproduction.
Conceivable melatonin supplement side effects listed in kids have usually been mild and have included:
- Increased bedwetting or urination in the evening
Can Melatonin Help With Insomnia?
People with insomnia disorder have trouble staying asleep, falling asleep, or both. When symptoms last longer than a month, it’s called chronic insomnia.
According to various guidelines from the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there’s not enough substantial evidence on the effectiveness of protection of melatonin supplementation for chronic insomnia to support its use.
- Reduced body temperature: Melatonin causes a small drop in body temperature. It could vary in people who have difficulty keeping warm, while this is generally not a problem.
- Interaction with sleeping pills: A study found that taking the sleep medication and melatonin exacerbated adverse effects on muscle and memory performance.
- Blood-thinning: Melatonin may reduce blood coagulation. Therefore, you should speak with your doctor before taking medium or high doses of it with warfarin or other blood thinners.
When combined with some medications, melatonin may be unsafe, including those prescribed for mental health disorders.
Consult your doctor before starting melatonin use if you doubt having any sleeping disorder, such as circadian rhythm or insomnia sleep disorder. You can consult a board-certified sleep physician; he can determine what treatment is right for you.