Is melatonin not for everyone? People are increasingly turning to melatonin as an over-the-counter remedy for trouble sleeping, but does it work?
According to the CDC, approximately 70 million Americans have chronic sleep problems. Desperate for a good night’s sleep, many people try the much-hyped melatonin to improve their sleep. The National Health Interview Survey found that its use in the United States more than doubled between 2007 and 2012.
But what exactly is melatonin? It’s a hormone naturally produced by the body that lets us know it’s time to sleep. Melatonin, which is naturally produced in the body, does not induce sleep but is a biochemical signal associated with the darkness that tells the brain that night is coming. Melatonin is released by the body in the hours before bed and helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle.
Melatonin is a popular over-the-counter sleep aid on the market. Scientific research shows that taking it can only be of great help when a person’s natural melatonin production isn’t functioning correctly. That is particularly useful for people who work at night or are jet-lagged. While taking melatonin can make you tired, it’s not a great sleep aid unless you’re trying to sleep at the “wrong” hours. Such as a shift worker sleeping during the day or trying to sleep in after an international trip. Those who sleep in new time zones.
Melatonin treatment has mixed results. Some people with insomnia report that taking melatonin helps them. Melatonin can be helpful in the treatment of long-term insomnia or sleep disturbances. If you are a night owl with sleep delay disorder, taking melatonin can help you fall asleep regularly and not wake up lifeless.
Doctors favour melatonin as a prescription drug for sleep problems. Taking melatonin is not addictive, nor does it have any withdrawal symptoms. It does not pose a fatal risk of overdose and does not require dose increases over time. Although it has not been formally reviewed for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an analysis of existing studies suggests it has a favourable safety profile.
Even so, those considering taking melatonin should be aware of some potential pitfalls. Melatonin is not without possible side effects. That include headaches, depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, joint pain, stomach cramps, and irritability. Although melatonin overdose is not life-threatening, users still need to be vigilant: higher doses (20-30 mg) may be harmful in adults.
Melatonin is not for everyone. It can interact with various drugs, including anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, anticonvulsants, birth control pills, diabetes medications, and immunosuppressants. Also, do not use melatonin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have an autoimmune disorder, epilepsy, depression.
Melatonin may also raise blood pressure levels in people taking certain high blood pressure medications. Experts recommend avoiding it if you have the habit of drinking coffee or alcohol at night. Also, it would be best if you did not drive after taking melatonin.
Sleep problems are common in children, but it is unwise for parents to give their children melatonin. Doctors also do not recommend that children take melatonin. While researchers have not extensively tested the hormone in children, animal experiments suggest that it may affect reproductive function in adolescents. While some studies suggest it helps children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, the unknown risks outweigh the benefits for most children. Parents who want to solve common sleep problems in children should try other methods, such as helping their children develop regular routines.
To avoid side effects, start with the lowest dose. 0.2 to 5 mg is considered the starting dose range for melatonin supplementation. Different brands may work differently since the FDA does not strictly regulate melatonin. Therefore, insomnia patients should start with the lowest dose, especially when taking it for the first time.
It is unlikely that taking a melatonin pill before bed will fall asleep peacefully. Because melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone, not a sleeping pill, try to take it following the body’s circadian rhythm. For most people, melatonin production peaks between 7 and 9 p.m.; it depends on the season. Therefore, making it 30-90 minutes before bedtime works for some people; others with different sleep disorders may benefit from taking it 2-3 hours before bedtime.
You can be inundated with different brands and varieties of melatonin at the drugstore. There are many forms such as tablets, capsules, gummies, chewable tablets, and even a spray. Regardless of the form, their pharmacological effects are the same.
The Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says melatonin is safe to take short-term. The overall effect of long-term use is questionable. Also, if the patient takes it and it doesn’t help, stop taking it.
While taking melatonin may help, there are other less expensive ways to boost the body’s natural melatonin production. You can increase melatonin production by getting sun exposure in the morning and afternoon. Blue light from a computer or cell phone interferes with the brain’s melatonin production. So stop using your computer and phone an hour before bed, and stay at least 1.8 meters away from your TV screen.
It may not be the level of melatonin itself that needs to be adjusted but the timing of its release. In the hours before bed, people need to reduce their exposure to blue light to help the brain think it’s night and induce sleep. They are also eating melatonin-rich foods like goji berries, walnuts, almonds, pineapples, bananas, and oranges before bed can help.
Studies have shown that melatonin concentration in human blood is highest at 2 to 3 a.m., 5 to 10 times that of the daytime. The secretion of melatonin also changes with age. The concentration of melatonin at night in neonates is deficient. It begins to rise linearly after three months until it declines after puberty, especially after the age of 40. At the age of 80, melatonin concentration in the blood is deficient, so the elders often get up early in the morning.
The biosynthesis of human melatonin must be converted from tryptophan (L-tryptophan) to 5-hydroxytryptophan through the cerebral vascular barrier. It is then converted into serotonin by Decarboxylase. Every night, the brain’s “AANAT” enzyme is activated to convert serotonin in the brain into “melatonin”. So, the critical factor determining the ratio of melatonin to serotonin is the “light” that enters our field of vision from the eyes. When the retina is exposed to light, the brain’s pineal gland stops secreting it. Serotonin peaks during the day, making people awake and happy; melatonin begins to secrete in large quantities at night, making people tired.
Melatonin It can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. The results of an integrated study also showed that melatonin could improve primary sleep disorders, such as shortening the time to fall asleep. Increasing overall sleep time and improving sleep quality, but compared with The effect of melatonin on sleep aids is relatively weak compared to other medications. However, melatonin seems to have fewer side effects in terms of side effects, and the sleep aid effect is not reduced by continuous use.
A randomized, placebo-controlled studies included healthy individuals with or without physician-diagnosed insomnia. The study results showed that melatonin had a weak effect in helping to fall asleep, stay asleep and regulate jet lag. And its role in adjusting the newly adjusted biological clock has not yet been concluded. The sleep aid effect of melatonin is different for different age groups. The result is more evident for groups with less self-secretion, such as elders over 55 years old. Studies have shown that older people with primary sleep disorders can improve sleep quality by taking 2 mg of slow-release melatonin a day.
Many people think that melatonin has no side effects and is not addictive, so they are always eager to try it. Indeed, current human studies have shown no severe side effects when taking 2 mg of sustained-release melatonin daily for six months of continuous supplementation. There is no tolerance after long-term ongoing use. It is safe and reliable to take short-term use to adjust the biological clock in different time zones. However, there is currently a lack of sufficient risk assessment reports for long-term use, so long-term supplementation is not recommended. If it is indispensable, please consult a specialist, and do not add it by yourself. If you decide to take it, it is generally recommended to take it 30 minutes before bed. As for the recommended supplemental dose, it is best to start with a low dose of 0.5 mg. If the effect is not satisfactory, you can increase it to 3-5 mg.
Current clinical studies have not found severe side effects caused by taking melatonin. Nor will it produce a “negative feedback effect”; not everyone can take melatonin. The following conditions that should be contraceptive or watch out for.
Pregnant women, lactating women, and those with liver and kidney insufficiency should avoid taking it: because the relevant safety is still unknown. Melatonin has the effect of inhibiting ovulation. For women who wish to become pregnant, avoid using high doses as much as possible. Women taking contraceptives should pay attention: because contraceptives will increase the concentration of melatonin in the body and increase the incidence of side effects. Because ethinylestradiol in contraceptives inhibits the enzyme CYP1A2, the plasma concentration of CYP1A2 substrates is risen slightly or moderately increased.
Patients with autoimmune diseases should avoid large long-term doses because melatonin may stimulate the immune system and worsen the situation. Patients taking the antidepressant fluvoxamine should avoid taking high units of melatonin as it may increase the risk of depressive episodes. Melatonin may slightly lower blood pressure by affecting epinephrine. Still, people who use Nifedipine blood pressure-lowering drugs should pay attention. Melatonin will compete with the cure for calcium ion channels and reduce the drug’s efficacy. Be careful when combined with anticoagulant drugs. Those may increase the chance of bruising and bleeding: because melatonin may slow blood clotting. Alcohol will reduce the effect of melatonin, do not take it together.