Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body. You can regulate your sleep and wake cycle with this hormone.
Melatonin is also available as an over-the-counter supplement that’s manufactured in a laboratory. Melatonin supplements are sometimes used to treat sleep problems like jet lag and insomnia.
The purpose of this article is to explain how exactly melatonin works and whether it’s safe to take melatonin supplements every night.
How does melatonin supplements work?
The pineal gland, located in the head, is where your body produces most of the natural melatonin. When exposed to light, melatonin production is inhibited, but when in the dark, it is stimulated.
At dusk, when the sunlight goes down and darkness falls, melatonin levels in your brain begin to increase. Peak levels are reached during the middle of the night, and they decrease as dawn approaches.
Inhibiting signals that promote alertness in your brain is the action of melatonin for sleep. The feeling of drowsiness or fatigue you feel closer to bedtime helps you sleep.
The sleep-promoting effects of melatonin make melatonin supplements useful for treating a variety of sleep-related ailments. Some of these are:
- Jet lag
- Shift work sleep disorder
- Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder
- Autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes sleep problems in children
What’s a safe dosage?
Melatonin is not regulated as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of this, it’s difficult to determine the optimal, safe dosage of melatonin.
Various studies have used melatonin supplements with doses ranging from 0.1 to 10 milligrams (mg). A 2017 review suggests a typical dose of melatonin is between 1 mg and 5 mg per night.
Melatonin is typically taken up to two hours before bedtime because it takes 1 to 2 hours to work. It may be best to start with a lower dose of melatonin if you’re trying it for the first time. Your doctor can help you determine a safe starting dose.
Melatonin supplements for children
It’s not clear what is the optimal, safe dose of melatonin for children as it is for adults. In addition, a child’s age can affect the dosage. Following are the dosages suggested by one 2016 review 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime:
- 1 mg for infants
- 2.5 to 3 mg for older children
- 5 mg for adolescents
Melatonin dosage guidelines for children aren’t clear, so you should speak with your child’s paediatrician before administering it.
Melatonin supplements for older adults
As you age, your body produces less melatonin. Therefore, supplements containing melatonin may be beneficial for older adults having trouble falling asleep.
It is still unknown what is the optimal dosage of melatonin for older adults. A 2016 review of sleep aids states that 1 to 2 mg of immediate-release melatonin should be taken one hour before bedtime as a sleep aid for older adults.
What you need to know about dietary supplements and safety
Melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement by the FDA, so it is regulated less strictly than a regular drug. Before dietary supplements are marketed, FDA approval is not required for any label claims or product safety.
According to a 2017 study of 31 different melatonin supplements, 71 percent of the products did not contain the amount of melatonin they claimed to contain. Furthermore, serotonin, which is potentially toxic even in small amounts, was present in 26 percent of those products.
Shoppers looking to purchase melatonin supplements should look for products certified by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), an independent organization that verifies the quality of supplements.
One of the most popular melatonin supplements is Resurge. It is manufactured in the USA and prepared in an FDA-approved facility. GMP guidelines are followed.
Resurge supplements might allow your body to absorb enough melatonin to maximize your natural melatonin production. Apart from that, it is also marketed as a weight-loss supplement because epidemiological studies show that insufficient sleep is associated with a higher risk of obesity.
However, since the supplement industry is barely regulated, you might want to read some Resurge reviews before making any purchase of the supplement.
Are there any side effects associated with taking melatonin supplements every night?
Melatonin supplements appear to be safe for most adults and children, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). However, it is unclear if melatonin supplements can be taken for a long period of time.
There has been some evidence that melatonin may have mild side effects in adults when compared to the use of a placebo. Only a small number of studies have examined long-term melatonin usage in children.
There is some concern in the medical community that prolonged melatonin administration to children might delay puberty onset due to the natural decrease in melatonin levels at puberty’s onset. It is, however, necessary to conduct further research.
How does too much melatonin supplements affect you?
Melatonin is generally considered safe. Occasionally, mild side effects are possible, especially if you are taking high doses or taking extended-release formulations.
Melatonin can cause the following side effects:
- feeling drowsy or sleepy
- increased urination or bedwetting (children)
Melatonin can cause the following less common side effects:
- abdominal cramps
- mild tremors
- feelings of depression or anxiety
- confusion or disorientation
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
Take melatonin only if you do not experience any side effects, and consult your doctor if you do. You may be advised to take a lower dose or try an alternative sleep aid or medication.
What are the risks of taking more than one dose at the night?
If you take melatonin but are still unable to fall asleep, you may wonder what will happen. Is there any chance you can take another dose?
It is unlikely that taking a second dose will harm you, but you may experience unwanted side effects.
Don’t use melatonin if you can’t sleep when it’s used. It is possible that your doctor can suggest different medications or techniques that will help you sleep.
What are the interactions between melatonin and other substances?
Melatonin has a number of important properties, its interactions with other substances, and at what times it is best to avoid it. Let’s have a closer look.
Which medications and substances interact with melatonin?
There may be interactions between melatonin and several medications.
- Blood-thinning medications. Melatonin may increase your bleeding risk when combined with blood-thinning medications.
- Epilepsy medications (anticonvulsants). Melatonin may decrease the effectiveness of these medications.
- Immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressive medications may be interfered with by melatonin.
- Diabetes medications. The use of melatonin can affect blood sugar levels.
- Blood pressure medications. With these medications, melatonin may make blood pressure worse.
- Contraceptive drugs. Melatonin may cause side effects if you are taking birth control pills.
Melatonin supplements may make you sleepy and drowsy, so do not mix them with:
- other sleep aids
- central nervous system depressants
Who should not take melatonin?
There is little evidence to tell if Melatonin supplements can be risky for pregnant women. There has been little research into the effects of melatonin supplements on nursing mothers, despite melatonin being an important part of breast milk.
Therefore, it is best not to take melatonin if you are:
- planning to become pregnant
If you have any of the following conditions, you should consult your doctor before taking melatonin:
- an autoimmune condition
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- had a previous allergic reaction to melatonin
When should you see your doctor about sleep problems
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Are frequently unable to get to sleep or stay asleep during the night
- Tired or drowsy most of the time during the day
- Having trouble performing daily tasks
During your consultation with your doctor, you will talk about your sleeping patterns and lifestyle. Also, they may ask you to keep a sleep diary over a period of time, so they can see how much sleep you’re getting.
Moreover, your doctor may order blood tests and perform a physical examination. Your doctor can use these tests to discover if you have a medical condition that is causing your sleep problems.
Sleep can be improved by taking melatonin supplements. Currently, there are no guidelines as to how much melatonin to take and when. Talk to your doctor for advice.
The long-term effects of melatonin have not been studied to any great extent, but short-term use is generally safe. Melatonin usually has mild side effects.
If taking melatonin doesn’t help you fall asleep or causes unwanted side effects, stop taking it and talk to your doctor. In addition to recommending ways to improve your sleep, they can also suggest other strategies.