In the news recently there have been lots of articles on melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in your body. It helps control your sleep patterns.
The NHS writes that you can take a manmade version of melatonin for short-term sleep problems (insomnia). It makes you fall asleep quicker and less likely to wake up during the night. It can also help with symptoms of jetlag.
Melatonin is used to treat sleep problems in people aged 55 and over.
It can sometimes be prescribed to help with sleep problems in children and to prevent headaches in adults.
Melatonin is available on prescription only. It comes as slow-release tablets and a liquid that you drink.
However, Penn Live writes that the use of over-the-counter melatonin as a sleep aid is on the rise. But a new study has found some people may be taking it at dangerously high levels.
A report by CNN Health cites sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School, who said while overall adult use of the sleep aid in the U.S. is still “relatively low,” the new study does “document a significant many-fold increase in melatonin use in the past few years.”
The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, found “by 2018 Americans were taking more than twice the amount of melatonin they took a decade earlier.”
According to Robbins, who was not involved in the study, there’s worry among experts that widespread reliance on sleeping aids may have further increased as a result of the pandemic’s negative impact on sleep. It’s a cause for concern according to Robbins. In prospective studies, taking sleep aids has been linked “with the development of dementia and early mortality.”
Some things melatonin has been linked to include “headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, irritability, and mild anxiety, depression, and tremors, as well as abnormally low blood pressure.” Additionally, it’s been known to interact with common medications, and it can trigger allergies,” CNN reported.
While short-term use for some conditions appears to be safe, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health, it’s the safety of long-term use that is unknown.
The Mayo Clinic point out that your body likely produces enough melatonin for its general needs. However, evidence suggests that melatonin supplements promote sleep and are safe for short-term use. Melatonin can be used to treat delayed sleep phase and circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind and provide some insomnia relief. Treat melatonin as you would any sleeping pill and use it under your doctor’s supervision.
After reading the latest news on melatonin it has certainly made me realise how much you need to check what is in some supplements and to always check with your GP first before taking any to help you sleep. There are of course many supplements available to help you sleep without having melatonin in them. Check the labels first before purchasing.
Source: NHS, Penn Live, CNN, NIH The Mayo Clinic