Getting adequate sleep at night is crucial to ensuring that you’re in optimal physical health. With technological advances coupled with the stresses from work, individuals are finding it harder and harder to fall asleep every single night. To help us in falling asleep, more individuals are taking melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep at night. While melatonin supplements are certainly helpful in helping one drift into dreamland – especially if taken in the right dosage, you might be concerned and wonder if melatonin supplements are safe and if there are any precautions that you should be wary of.
To help you get started, we’ve detailed some information on what exactly melatonin is and why individuals take it. Thereafter, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of the supplement, the dosage that you should be taking, and end off with some of the side effects of it.
What is Melatonin?
To start off, it would be helpful to know what exactly melatonin is. Unbeknownst to most, our body already naturally makes it, and it helps us in the regulation of our sleep cycle. As night time approaches, our brain’s pineal gland slowly releases melatonin into our system, and that makes us drowsier as night time approaches. When it’s time for us to wake up and daylight seeps into our room, our body decreases the amount that is produced. Hence, melatonin is usually produced at night, and daylight helps in preventing the production of it.
In recent years, it has become a dietary supplement that has gained popularity, and either than being a natural sleep supplement, melatonin also has effects on your health. As mentioned above, it is usually naturally produced by your brain and it helps in the regulation of your body’s circadian rhythm to assist with your body’s sleep cycle. While melatonin supplements can be purchased over the counter in the United States, other places like Australia and Europe require prescriptions. Either than helping with the body’s sleep cycle, it is also known to help with the immune system, as well as blood pressure.
Why Do People Take Melatonin?
So, why exactly do people take melatonin? Since melatonin is called the sleep hormone, most individuals take melatonin as a sleep aid and as a natural remedy to help in rectifying sleep issues like insomnia. Various studies conducted have shown that it can help individuals in getting more restful sleep. Studies have also shown that when melatonin has been ingested, children and adults with sleep disorders reduced the amount of time it took for them to fall asleep and helped to increase overall sleep time and quality. However, studies have also shown that while it has fewer side effects in comparison with other sleep medications, it can be less effective.
Since melatonin helps in the regulation of our biological clock, the timing of when it is taken is crucial. When it is taken orally, it can reach maximum concentration within your body in the span of 30 minutes. While most people should take the supplement right before they go to sleep, there are however some individuals that should instead be taking this in the morning.
Melatonin is most suited for the following individuals:
- Individuals that have trouble falling asleep – they should take this 30 minutes before bedtime
- For individuals that usually stay awake at night – If you tend to fall asleep late at night, melatonin is appropriate for consumption a few hours before your desired bedtime. For example, if you usually fall asleep at 3 a.m., but you want to go to bed at 12am, you may consider taking it at 10 pm
- For individuals that tend to wake up early in the morning – if you wake up earlier than normal individuals, you’d want to try taking it in the morning. It’s best for you to speak with your doctor before pursuing this method, however, as it is a rather rare case.
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What are Some of the Benefits of Melatonin?
Either than helping in achieving restful sleep, there are some other benefits of melatonin as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is also known as seasonal depression is a common condition and comes about due to the changes in seasons, and usually starts around the winter period due to the reduction of light. Since it helps in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, taking slight doses of melatonin may help in reducing the symptoms of seasonal depression.
Melatonin is also naturally high in antioxidants. Hence, it can help with cell damage and is great at keeping your eyes healthy. Some studies have also shown that melatonin could be helpful in treating certain conditions like glaucoma, and can help decrease the incidence of retinopathy. However, research is still limited, and more studies need to be conducted on supplements and eye health.
You may want to read: Using Melatonin Supplements for Sleep
What is the Usual Dosage of Melatonin?
Melatonin should usually be taken in doses of 0.5-10mg per day. Since each supplement is different, however, you may want to stick to the dosage that’s recommended on your packaging to avoid any side effects. It’s also best to start with a lower dosage and increase in accordance with what might work best for you. Melatonin should also be taken 30 minutes before sleep for maximum effectiveness.
At this moment, melatonin is not recommended for children or teenagers and is usually only ingested by adults.
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What Are Some of the Side Effects of Melatonin?
There are a number of side effects associated with the supplement that may include headaches, individuals feeling nauseous, sleepiness and individuals feeling dizzy. If you’re on certain medications, it would be best to also consult your doctor as there are some medications that may interact with these supplements.
Usually, it is uncommon for individuals to have side effects while consuming melatonin supplements, and individuals should not exceed the optimal dose. It is also usually recommended for one to take it short-term, and that it should not be consumed for extended periods of time.
At the end of the day, melatonin supplements seem to be relatively safe when taken in small doses for a short period of time. While there are some side effects that do come about from consuming these supplements, they rarely happen and in general, melatonin is safe. It is not recommended, however, to take melatonin long-term. If you have any sleep issues, it’s worth to check in with your doctor and identify the source of your insomnia so that the doctor can establish the best course of action for you.
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