Sleep is considered as the most relaxing time of the entire day. It is said that a good night’s sleep can improve anyone’s health and prepare the person for the next day to fight with new vigour and energy.
Sleep provides abundant health benefits to the body but have you thought about those people who do not have proper sleep or really have a messed up sleep schedule?
Sleep is controlled by a hormone known as melatonin and reduction in the production of this hormone causes messy sleep schedules. People who suffer from disoriented sleeping patterns often turn to melatonin supplements to bring their sleeping patterns back on track. But is it safe to consume melatonin every night? Well, let us explore more on this topic then.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin aka “the darkness hormone” is a natural hormone that is found in our body which regulates our sleep and wake cycle. It is synthesized by the pineal gland in our body.
The working of melatonin is quite interesting. Melatonin plays a critical role in maintaining our biological clock or circadian rhythm. It is released in the response to darkness and gets suppressed by light. As the sun goes down and darkness increases, the pineal gland starts secreting melatonin hormone. The melatonin levels in the body generally increase after 9 pm and that sends signals to the brain to become less alert and causes a feeling of drowsiness in the body. The peak of melatonin secretion reaches between 2 and 4 in the night and decreases gradually as the night progresses.
As we already know the reduction in the level of melatonin production leads to disruption in the sleep cycle and therefore for people having trouble sleeping, melatonin supplements in the form of pills, liquids and chewable are generally supplied to them.
What are the benefits of melatonin supplements?
Melatonin supplements cater to a wide range of sleep and other related disorders and some of the popular benefits of melatonin supplements according to studies are:
No prize for guessing that the biggest benefit of using melatonin supplements will be improving your messed up sleep cycle. People suffering from insomnia upon consumption of melatonin supplements reported a calming effect on the body and an ability to fall asleep faster. It also improves the condition of sleep efficacy.
- Age-related macular degeneration
Melatonin supplements reduce the risk of eye diseases and therefore prevents the age-related macular degeneration or any other eye-related ailments. It protects the retina from radical damage and controls eye pigmentation and amount of light entering our photoreceptors.
- Controlling Autism
According to studies, autism leads to a reduction in the production of melatonin hormone in the body leading to sleep disturbances. Although not perfectly studied, it was found that when people suffering from autism were given a certain specified dosage of melatonin supplements, it not only improved sleep duration, onset and quality but also helped in improving the behaviours of the affected patients.
- Jet lag
Jet lag is one of the biggest problems suffered by travellers who have to go across different time zones leading to extreme fatigue and discomfort. Melatonin supplements can combat the symptoms of jet lag and also improve your sleep cycle when you are travelling or moving across more than one time zone.
A medical condition, tinnitus, is the constant ringing or buzzing noise heard in both ears. It can be constant or can come and go. If not treated on time, in some extreme cases, it can lead to loss of hearing. Consumption of melatonin supplements can provide you with relief. It reduces the inner ear noise and also improves sleep quality.
FAQ about melatonin supplements dosage
According to doctors, if one considers starting melatonin supplements, it should first begin with a lower dosage. The prescribed dosage that a person can start with is 0.5 mg and if it does not make you sleep, you can increase it to 3-5 mg.
Melatonin takes 1-2 hours to work so it is usually taken two hours before bedtime. The usual dosage assigned are:
- For children
- Infants- 1 mg
- Older children- 2.5 to 3mg
- Adolescents- 5mg
Before giving melatonin supplements to children, make sure to consult a paediatrician for proper guidance.
- For adults
1-2 mg of immediate-release melatonin
The timing for consuming melatonin supplements also vary from person to person. It is usually generally prescribed two hours before to bedtime under normal circumstances but there can be some exceptions
- For trouble falling asleep- 30 minutes before bedtime.
- For night owls- People suffering from delayed sleep phase syndrome should take melatonin several hours before their usual bedtime. Like for example, if someone sleeps around 3 pm but you want to sleep around 12, consider taking the medication by 9 or 10.
- For early birds- Quite opposite to the night owls, people also suffer from advanced sleep phase syndrome which is a condition where you wake up several hours too early. It is a rare condition, therefore, to counteract taking the medication in the morning upon awakening.
Is it safe to take melatonin every night?
Coming to the main question that crosses everyone’s mind is whether melatonin is safe to be taken every night or not?
According to professional health advisors, usage of melatonin supplements for a short period can be safe for most adults and children. However, that being said, some complications may appear when consumed for a long period.
Usage of melatonin on children for a longer period of time can delay the onset of puberty in them. Dosage also plays a very important role in the well being therefore upon excess consumption can produce some unwanted side effects like:
- Excess drowsy or sleepiness
- Headache, dizziness and nausea
- Increased urination
- Abdominal cramps and mild tremors
- Irritation, depression and anxiety
- Confusion or disorientation
There are some groups of people who should avoid melatonin supplements like:
- Women planning to become pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People consuming blood thinning or epilepsy medications.
- People suffering from diabetes and low blood pressure.
According to studies, these supplements can regulate your sleep cycle effectively if consumed for a short period but more research needs to be done on their long term effects. As seen, it does not produce much unwanted effects on the body if consumed properly and can be intaken by both young and old alike.
You can also include food options that are rich in melatonin like certain types of fruits, nuts and vegetables. However, if you consider taking supplements to fulfil your melatonin levels, we advise you to buy melatonin supplements from a trusted source and verifying its quality and also consulting with your doctor for proper guidance and instructions.
There you go, everything about you need to know before consuming melatonin supplements.