Melatonin is a hormone that is mostly known for maintaining circadian rhythms and sleep. The pineal gland produces this hormone at night and blocks its release during the day. The body makes melatonin naturally, enough for people to sleep on their own.
The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that tells the body when to sleep and when to wake over the course of 24-hour cycles based on the daily pattern of light and dark. The dark stimulates the body to produce more melatonin, putting you into a state of quiet wakefulness and signaling the body to sleep. When the light arrives, it prompts the body to stop producing melatonin and signals the body to be awake.
Melatonin can also be taken naturally by consuming food that contains melatonin. You can also take a synthetic supplement in a pill or gummy form that you can buy in a drugstore.
Aside from maintaining sleep, people also use melatonin for depression, chronic pain, dementia, and many other conditions, but there are still no studies supporting this.
Melatonin is growing in popularity, with more than six million people using them in 2022, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
If you are considering using melatonin for sleep, keep on reading!
As your trusted retail pharmacy, Cavalier Pharmacare will help you look at melatonin’s role in the body and understand exactly how it works and whether it causes adverse effects.
- How Does Melatonin Work?
Because melatonin’s job is to signal your body when it’s time to sleep and time to wake, melatonin supplements are getting popular among people with:
- Jet lag
- Delayed sleep disorder
- Circadian rhythm disorders in blind people
- Trouble sleeping for night shift workers
- Sleep-wake cycle issues in children with disabilities
High levels of melatonin can help you fall asleep, but melatonin itself won’t knock you out since it only tricks your body into feeling like it’s time to sleep.
- How to Take Melatonin
If you’re considering trying melatonin for insomnia, you should start with a recommended low-dose supplement. Adults can take up to 8 mg by mouth daily for up to 6 months, while children can take up to 3 mg by mouth daily for up to 3 months.
But before anything else, it is best to talk with a healthcare professional before adding OTC melatonin to your routine. Consult a doctor or pharmacist about it.
- Side Effects
Most studies today suggest that melatonin supplements are safe, non-toxic, and not addictive for either children or adults. But there are still mild side effects that were reported, including:
- Daytime sleepiness
- A cold feeling
The possible long-term side effects of using melatonin are still unclear.
- Precautions and Warnings
Although there is not enough information about the possible side effects of melatonin and that short-term use is proven safe for most people, you should not take a high dose to sleep even more. Check out these precautions before taking supplements.
- Pregnancy: If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you should not take melatonin as it may be unsafe. It might have effects similar to birth control.
- Breastfeeding: For now, there is still no study about the negative effects of taking melatonin while breastfeeding. But for your and your baby’s safety, you should avoid using it.
- Children: Melatonin is possibly safe for short-term use in children with a medical need.
- Bleeding disorders: It might worsen bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
- Depression: It can worsen symptoms of depression.
- High blood pressure: Melatonin can also increase blood pressure in people with hypertension.
- Seizure disorders: Melatonin might increase the risk of having a seizure.
- Interactions with medicines: People who are taking medications should consult their doctors or pharmaceutical services provider before using melatonin, as it can affect the effectiveness of the medications they are already taking.
- Possible allergic reaction risk: Make sure that you do not have any allergic reactions to melatonin supplements.
- Know When to Stop
If melatonin for sleep isn’t helping you after a week or two, you should stop using it. If it works, make sure to consult your doctor when to stop using it.
Also, to get the best results, ensure that you don’t disrupt its effects with artificial light. Sleep in a cool, dark, comfortable bedroom. Relax before bed. Keep the lights low. Stop using your computer, smartphone, or tablet, and turn off bright overhead lights. If you are watching TV, you should be six feet away from the screen. You should also get exposure to daylight during the morning and afternoon.
Do you have more questions about melatonin? Feel free to send us a message!