What is Melatonin?
Melatonin, also known as the “sleep hormone,” is a naturally occurring hormone made by your body. It is produced in the pineal gland in the brain, and high levels can help you fall asleep. Melatonin lets your body know it is nighttime and relaxes your body to help you fall asleep more easily. However, Melatonin itself does not cause you to fall asleep.
You can buy melatonin supplements without a prescription in Canada. This supplement is popular among people with insomnia, jet lag, or just general difficulty sleeping. You can also buy melatonin supplements that come in pill, liquid, and chewable forms, either natural or synthetic. The natural forms are made from the pineal glands in animals.
How does Melatonin Work in the Body
Melatonin works alongside your body’s circadian rhythm, which is your body’s internal clock telling you when to sleep and wake up. When it’s dark outside, your brain produces melatonin to signal to the rest of your body that it’s time to sleep.
Additionally, Melatonin helps regulate your body temperature and blood pressure. It also reduces dopamine levels, a hormone that keeps you awake and helps your body relax by binding receptors in the brain to reduce nerve activity.
Many factors disrupt the production of Melatonin at night, such as stress, smoking, exposure to light, using electronics before bed, and not getting enough natural light during the day.
Some people may not have enough Melatonin, so they may want to consider taking melatonin supplements to help counter low levels and normalize their internal clock.
Is the Use of Melatonin Supplement Effective?
Current evidence suggests that taking Melatonin supplements at night may help you fall asleep, but further research is required. It was discovered that Melatonin reduced the time it took to fall asleep by around 7 minutes in an analysis of 19 studies on people with trouble sleeping. In these studies, the participants reported a higher quality of sleep.
At what dosage should you take Melatonin?
Taking a lower dose is recommended when you’re just starting out taking Melatonin. Start with 0.5 mg (or 500 micrograms) or 1 mg 30 minutes before going to bed. If it isn’t helping you fall asleep, try increasing your dose to 3-5 mg.
You shouldn’t need a higher dose than this to fall asleep, and taking even more is unlikely to improve your sleep. It is recommended to take the lowest dose possible that will help you fall asleep.
What are the Safety Concerns and Side Effects of taking Melatonin?
Studies and evidence currently suggest that melatonin supplements are completely safe and non-addictive. However, some people may experience mild side effects such as:
Melatonin may interact with certain medications, including:
- Sleep aids or sedatives
- Blood thinners
- Blood pressure medication
- Oral contraceptives
- Diabetes medications
It is always best to talk to a medical professional before trying melatonin supplements. Find out if it’s right for you and whether there are any interferences with your medications.
Some concerns taking high amounts of Melatonin will inhibit your body’s ability to produce it naturally. However, several studies have debunked these concerns and found that taking Melatonin will not stop your body from adequately producing Melatonin.
What are other Health Benefits of Melatonin?Melatonin is also possibly effective for:
- Increasing growth hormones in young men
- Treating stomach ulcers and heartburns
- Supporting eye health
- Easing tinnitus symptoms
- Treating sunburns
- Lowering blood pressure
- Treating insomnia
- Treating cancer along with chemotherapy
- Reducing jet lag
- Preventing migraines
- Reducing anxiety
- Increasing pain tolerance
- Lowering levels of platelets in the blood
Melatonin, Pregnancy, and Babies
Melatonin is not currently recommended for pregnant people as melatonin levels change throughout pregnancy and are essential for the fetus.
It is also not recommended for nursing mothers as babies’ melatonin levels are initially low after birth and are naturally supplemented by maternal breast milk.
Melatonin and Children
Melatonin may be beneficial in helping children sleep better and improving their sleep disorders. However, the long-term effects of melatonin treatment in children are still unknown.
Melatonin and Seniors
Because melatonin levels naturally decrease when you get older, a low dosage of Melatonin may help improve sleep quality in older adults. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor first when considering melatonin supplements to discuss if it’s right for you as there may be possible drug interactions.
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Written by: Sean Shih