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Melatonin for Sleep? Explore Benefits and Side Effects

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Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin for Sleep

Before saying why it is important to use melatonin for sleep instead taking dangerous drugs, it is important to talk a little bit this important hormone.

Melatonin, also called N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, often called sleep hormone, is synthesized mainly at night. It plays the central role in the regulation of chronobiological rhythms (“biological clock”), an innate mechanism that controls our physiological activities that change on a daily, seasonal, yearly, or other regular cycle. It also regulates many hormonal secretions, in humans as well as in all mammals.

Production of Melatonin

This neurohormone is synthesized from the neurotransmitter serotonin, which derives itself from tryptophan, an essential amino acid made from plant or animal sources necessary for normal growth in infants and balance of biosynthesis of proteins in adults. Tryptophan is also used to treat sleep problems.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland (also called epiphysis). Its secretion is inhibited by light and stimulated when it is dark. The maximum production is reached from 2 to 5 am, hence this it is also named “hormone of darkness”.Qué sucede en nuestro cerebro durante la noche, cuando dormimos? - TecReview Through melatonin, the pineal gland informs the brain about the relative duration of the hours of darkness and lighting over a period of 24 h (daily cycle), but also throughout the year (seasonality). By secreting melatonin, the pineal gland “tells” the brain that it’s dark and it’s the right time to sleep.

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Unfortunately, in people with insomnia this wonderful hormonal is either does not work properly or the brain is too active (overactive mind) to relax and cause deep and profound sleep. That does not mean all sleep disorders are cause by this hormonal irregularity; other conditions such as diseases (cancer for instance), events or environmental stress can also impair the process. Therefore, using melatonin for sleep can work depending on the cause of the insomnia.

Types of Melatonin for Sleep Available

Melatonin for Sleep

In general, two forms of melatonin are available on the market: Immediaterelease (ordinary form, also called “quick-release”) and the prolonged-release or slow-release (a special preparation, also called “controlled-release,” designed to spread absorption in the body over many hours). Presumably the first help to fall asleep faster and the second helps to stay asleep.

In its natural form (when taken from foods), melatonin plays both role normally. But it is not abundant in nature. The leaves and roots of many plants contain small amounts of melatonin, including fenugreek seeds, alfalfa, fennel, poppy, flax, coriander and sunflower. The role of this antioxidant substance would be to protect the fragile seed of these plants against oxidative effects of UV radiation, drought, extreme temperatures and toxins. Therefore, the hormone can be used not only as an insomnia treatment but also as an antioxidant.

History of Melatonin

Melatonin is basically a new product. It was discovered in 1958 by Aaron B. Lerner of Yale University. However, its popularity would soar until in 1995 thanks to a media campaign orchestrated around the publication of a book called Melatonin: Your Body’s Natural Wonder Drug.

Melatonin, which was quickly dubbed the “miracle hormone”, has created wildest expectations. Today, the tone is more moderate, but many researchers believe it has many therapeutic properties, including in the field of cancer treatment due to the fact very low levels tend to be found in people diagnosed with cancer. But this book is about its role in fighting insomnia, not cancers. Others think instead the “wonder hormone” must be treated with caution since scientists still poorly know possible long-term effects. Meanwhile, many studies have confirmed the relation between certain chronic diseases and Melatonin Deficiency.

Melatonin Deficiency

Melatonin is not considered an essential nutrient; no recommended daily intake has been established. One cannot therefore speak of deficiency with certainty. However, researchers have noticed that people with certain health problems had levels below average. For instance patients with chronic heart problems have low melatonin levels, but it is unclear if this is a cause or effect (consequence) of the disease.

Other findings also confirmed that travelers and people who work rotating shifts frequently tend to suffer from sleep disorders that seem to be caused by change in their melatonin levels.It is also found prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields could inhibit production of this hormone, thus the reason prolonged exposure to computer screen cause sleep disorders. Thus, in these cases, using melatonin for sleep can greatly help.

It was long thought that the production of melatonin decreases with age, but more recent studies suggest that this is not the case. Healthy elderlies have normal melatonin levels.

Melatonin Gummies: A Convenient Sleep Aid Option

What Are Melatonin Gummies?

Melatonin gummies are a type of dietary supplement designed to provide a controlled dose of melatonin in an easy-to-consume, gummy format. Melatonin supplements, including gummies, are often used to address sleep-related issues, such as insomnia, jet lag, and shift work sleep disorder.

Melatonin gummies have emerged as a popular and convenient option for individuals seeking to improve their sleep patterns. These chewable supplements combine the sleep-regulating benefits of melatonin with the enjoyable experience of consuming a gummy treat. In this section, you will learn what melatonin gummies are, their potential benefits, and considerations for usage.

Pros of Melatonin Gummies

Convenience: Melatonin gummies offer a hassle-free way to take melatonin, especially for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.

Taste Appeal: The gummy format is not only convenient but also enjoyable due to the various flavors and textures available. This can make taking melatonin feel like a treat rather than a chore.

Precise Dosage: Gummies typically come in pre-measured doses, ensuring consistent and accurate intake of melatonin.

Fast Absorption: Gummies can be absorbed through the mouth’s mucous membranes, leading to faster effects compared to traditional pills that need to be digested.

Cons of Melatonin Gummies

Dosage Awareness: While melatonin gummies offer a simple way to consume melatonin, it’s crucial to be mindful of the dosage. Always follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the product packaging or as directed by a healthcare professional.

Individual Variation: People’s responses to melatonin can vary. Some individuals may find that a lower dose is effective, while others might need a higher dose. Consulting a healthcare provider before starting any supplement, including melatonin gummies, is advisable.

Timing: The timing of melatonin consumption matters. Taking a melatonin gummy around 30 minutes before bedtime can help synchronize its effects with your natural sleep-wake cycle.

Refined Sugar: Many melatonin gummies on the market contain refined sugar as part of their ingredients. Refined sugar, also known as sucrose, is a common sweetener used to enhance the flavor and palatability of gummy supplements. While it contributes to the appealing taste of these gummies, it’s essential to recognize both its positive and potential negative aspects.

  • Adverse effects of Refined Sugar in Melatonin Gummies
  • Caloric Content: Refined sugar contributes calories to the gummies, which can be a concern for individuals watching their caloric intake.
  • Blood Sugar Impact: Refined sugar can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, especially in those with diabetes or insulin resistance.
  • Potential Health Effects: Excessive consumption of refined sugar is linked to various health issues, including obesity, dental problems, and an increased risk of chronic diseases.
  • Considering Healthier Alternatives

If you’re concerned about the presence of refined sugar in melatonin gummies, there are alternative options to explore:

  • Sugar-Free Varieties: Some brands offer sugar-free or reduced-sugar melatonin gummies that use natural sweeteners or sugar substitutes.
  • Whole Food Ingredients: Look for gummies made with whole food ingredients, such as natural fruit flavors and sweeteners derived from sources like agave, honey, or stevia.
  • Capsules or Tablets: If you prefer to avoid sugar altogether, consider melatonin supplements in capsule or tablet form, which often have fewer additives.

Melatonin for Sleep for Kids

Melatonin is sometimes considered as a potential aid for children facing sleep issues. However, its usage for kids requires careful consideration and guidance. In this section, you will discover the Pros and Cons of using Melatonin for kids, discussing its potential benefits, concerns, dosing considerations, and common questions parents may have.

Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

Melatonin supplements are generally considered safe for short-term use in children under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They can be particularly helpful for specific sleep disorders and situations, such as jet lag or shift work sleep disorder. However, before introducing melatonin to your child, it’s important to consult a pediatrician to determine whether it’s an appropriate solution for their sleep challenges.

Benefits of Melatonin for Kids

  • Sleep Disorders: Melatonin supplements can be beneficial for children with sleep disorders such as insomnia or delayed sleep phase disorder, which can disrupt their natural sleep-wake cycles.
  • Adjusting Sleep Patterns: Children dealing with jet lag or changing sleep schedules due to travel or shifts may find melatonin helpful in readjusting their sleep patterns.
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Some children with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder may experience sleep disturbances. Melatonin may be recommended to improve sleep quality.

Considerations and Guidelines

  • Consult a Pediatrician: Before introducing melatonin to your child, consult a pediatrician to discuss their sleep issues and receive professional guidance.
  • Dosage: Pediatricians typically recommend lower doses of melatonin for children. The appropriate dosage varies based on factors like age, weight, and individual needs.
  • Short-Term Usage: Melatonin should be used as a short-term solution under medical supervision. Long-term effects on children’s growth and development are still being studied.

Melatonin Side Effects

Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin can cause adverse reactions, although they are not experienced by everyone who takes it. The occurrence and severity of side effects can vary based on factors such as individual sensitivity, dosage, and overall health. Some potential melatonin side effects include:

Anxiety (Overdose): While melatonin is commonly used to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation, consuming excessive amounts can paradoxically lead to increased anxiety. This is more likely to occur when melatonin is taken in doses beyond what is recommended, disrupting the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters that influence mood regulation.

Irritability (Overdose): Similar to anxiety, an overdose of melatonin can result in irritability. This may manifest as heightened sensitivity, restlessness, and a general sense of discomfort. It’s crucial to adhere to the appropriate dosage guidelines to avoid these adverse effects.

Joint Pain (Overdose): Joint pain is an uncommon but possible side effect of melatonin overdose. In some cases, excessive melatonin intake may disrupt normal hormonal and biochemical processes, potentially leading to symptoms like joint discomfort.

Mood Changes: Melatonin can impact mood in various ways. While it’s often associated with relaxation and improved sleep, some individuals may experience mood changes, such as shifts in emotional states or mild depressive feelings. These effects are generally more pronounced with higher doses.

Daytime Drowsiness: Daytime drowsiness is a well-documented side effect of melatonin supplementation, especially when taken in excess or at inappropriate times. Excessive melatonin can linger into the daytime, leading to feelings of grogginess and reduced alertness.

Changes in Blood Pressure: Melatonin’s influence on blood pressure is complex. In some individuals, melatonin can cause fluctuations in blood pressure, potentially leading to both increases and decreases in readings. Individuals with existing blood pressure concerns should monitor their levels closely if using melatonin.

Headaches and Migraines: Headaches and migraines can occur as a result of melatonin supplementation, although this side effect is relatively rare. The exact mechanism is not fully understood, but it’s believed that melatonin’s impact on blood vessel dilation and neurotransmitter activity could contribute to these symptoms.

Interactions with Other Medications: Melatonin can interact with various medications, particularly those that affect the same pathways or enzymes in the body. These interactions can alter the effectiveness or safety of both melatonin and the other medications, underscoring the importance of discussing any potential interactions with a healthcare provider.

Gastrointestinal Issues (Nausea, Diarrhea, Stomach Cramps): Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, can occur in response to melatonin supplementation. These effects are more likely to occur with higher doses or when melatonin is taken on an empty stomach. It’s advisable to take melatonin with food if gastrointestinal discomfort is a concern.

It’s important to note that while these side effects are possible, they are not experienced by everyone who supplement melatonin. The severity and likelihood of these reactions can vary based on factors such as individual sensitivity, dosage, and overall health. If you experience any of these side effects, it’s recommended that you consult a healthcare provider for guidance on adjusting dosage or considering alternative sleep aids.

Melatonin Alternatives 

For these melatonin alternatives to work it is very important to consider lifestyle changes if necessary. Making adjustments to your daily routine, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and getting regular exercise, can significantly improve sleep quality.

In addition, avoid exposure to screens (phones, tablets, computers, TVs) about 2 hours before you go to bed. Research indicates that engaging with screens for two or more hours before bed can significantly disturb the essential melatonin surge required for initiating sleep. It’s advisable to power down all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, as a basic practice. Relax your mind by reading a book, moderate walking before bedtime, indulging in a calming bath, or engaging in other relaxing activities during this time.

Here is a list of Melatonin Alternatives

Relaxation Techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation before bedtime can help calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

Magnesium Supplements: Magnesium is known to support relaxation and sleep. Taking magnesium supplements or consuming magnesium-rich foods can contribute to better sleep quality.

GABA Supplements: Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that can help calm the nervous system and promote relaxation. GABA supplements are available over-the-counter.

Aromatherapy: Using essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood in a diffuser or as part of a bedtime routine can have soothing effects that encourage better sleep.

White Noise Machines: White noise machines create a consistent and soothing background sound that can mask disturbances and help you fall asleep more easily.

Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a structured approach that helps change behaviors and thought patterns that contribute to sleep issues.

Progressive Relaxation: This technique involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to release tension and promote relaxation before sleep.

Herbal Teas

It’s important to note that while herbal alternatives can be beneficial for some individuals, their effectiveness can vary from person to person. It might be important to seek medical advice before incorporating herbal remedies into your routine if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. 

Chamomile: Chamomile is a well-known herb with calming properties. It’s often brewed into tea and sipped before bedtime to help relax the mind and body.

Valerian Root: Valerian root is commonly used as a natural remedy for sleep disorders. It may help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation.

Lavender: Lavender is known for its soothing aroma. It can be used as an essential oil in aromatherapy or added to bathwater to help induce relaxation and sleep.

Passionflower: Passionflower is believed to have sedative effects and is often used to alleviate anxiety and promote restful sleep.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and is known for its calming effects. It’s often used to make teas or supplements for relaxation and sleep support.

Hops: Hops, commonly used in brewing beer, also have sedative properties. They can be consumed in tea or supplement form to help with sleep.

California Poppy: California poppy is used as a mild sedative and can help ease nervous tension and promote relaxation.

Peppermint: Peppermint tea can have a soothing effect on the digestive system, which can indirectly support better sleep by preventing discomfort.

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body manage stress. Its calming effects can indirectly contribute to improved sleep.

Ginseng: Some types of ginseng, such as American ginseng, may have calming effects and support better sleep, particularly when stress is a contributing factor.

Other Supplements

L-Theanine: L-Theanine is a natural amino acid found in tea leaves, particularly in green tea. It’s gaining recognition as an effective alternative to melatonin for promoting relaxation and supporting better sleep. It’s believed to influence brain activity by increasing the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters play roles in mood regulation, stress reduction, and relaxation.

Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including sleep regulation. It helps relax muscles and nerves, contributing to an overall sense of calmness. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with sleep disturbances, and supplementation can help alleviate this deficiency, potentially leading to improved sleep quality.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan): 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and sleep-wake cycles. By increasing serotonin levels, 5-HTP may promote relaxation and contribute to better sleep. It’s commonly used as a supplement for mood enhancement and sleep support.

Glycine: Glycine is an amino acid that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It has been shown to have calming effects, which can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. Glycine may also help regulate body temperature during sleep, contributing to a more restful night’s rest.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to both serotonin and melatonin. It’s found in various protein-containing foods and is often associated with the drowsiness experienced after a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Tryptophan supplements can potentially increase serotonin and melatonin production, leading to improved sleep.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of these alternatives can vary from person to person. What works for someone else may not work for you, vice versa.

FAQs about Melatonin for Sleep

What is melatonin simple definition?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body’s pineal gland, which helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.

Is It Safe to Take Melatonin Every Night?

Taking melatonin every night can be safe for short periods, but it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

Why Doesn’t Melatonin Work for Me ADHD?

Melatonin’s effectiveness can vary among individuals. ADHD may involve complex sleep-related issues that melatonin alone might not address.

Is It Safe to Take 10 mg of Melatonin Every Night?

Taking 10 mg of melatonin every night is a high dosage. It’s recommended to start with lower doses and consult a healthcare provider before considering higher doses.

When Should You Take Melatonin for Sleep?

Melatonin is typically taken around 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to help regulate sleep patterns.

Is It Good to Take Melatonin for Sleep?

Melatonin supplements can be beneficial for individuals with sleep issues, helping regulate sleep cycles and promoting better sleep.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Melatonin for Sleep?

Side effects of melatonin can include daytime drowsiness, changes in blood pressure, headaches, and interactions with medications.

How Much Melatonin Should I Take to Sleep?

The recommended melatonin dosage varies, but starting with a lower dose, such as 0.5 to 1 mg, is often suggested.

How Long Does It Take for Melatonin for Sleep to Kick In?

Melatonin usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to start having an effect on sleep.

Is Taking Melatonin Supplement Good for Anxiety?

Melatonin is primarily used for sleep regulation and may indirectly help with anxiety by improving sleep quality.

Is Melatonin supplememnt Good for the Brain?

Melatonin is involved in regulating circadian rhythms and sleep, which can have positive effects on brain function and overall well-being.

What Else Does Melatonin Do in the Body?

Besides sleep regulation, melatonin also has antioxidant properties and is believed to play a role in immune function.

What Happens If You Take Melatonin and Don’t Sleep?

Taking melatonin without sleeping may disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and could potentially lead to daytime drowsiness and headaches.

Are melatonin gummies safe?

When used as directed, melatonin gummies are generally considered safe for short-term use. However, like any supplement, they should be used responsibly and in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Can I give melatonin gummies to children?

Melatonin gummies are not recommended for children without the guidance of a pediatrician. Children’s melatonin needs and responses can differ significantly from those of adults.

Can I take melatonin gummies daily?

While melatonin gummies can be taken regularly, it’s advisable to use them intermittently rather than on a daily basis. Long-term effects of consistent melatonin supplementation are still being studied.

Can I take melatonin gummies with other medications?

It’s best to consult a healthcare professional before combining melatonin gummies with other medications to ensure there are no potential interactions.

Can I adjust the dosage of melatonin gummies on my own?

It’s recommended to consult a healthcare provider before making any changes to your melatonin dosage to ensure it aligns with your individual needs and health profile.

Can I find melatonin gummies without refined sugar?

Yes, some brands offer melatonin gummies with reduced or no refined sugar content. Reading product labels can help you find suitable options.

Are natural sweeteners a healthier alternative to refined sugar in gummies?

Natural sweeteners like agave or stevia can be better alternatives to refined sugar, but moderation is still advised due to their impact on blood sugar levels.

Can I make my own melatonin gummies without refined sugar?

Yes, there are recipes available online for homemade melatonin gummies using natural sweeteners and whole food ingredients.

How can I balance the desire for taste with health concerns?

It’s about finding a balance that works for you. If taste is important, opt for gummies with moderate sugar content and focus on overall dietary choices.

Can I consult a healthcare provider about melatonin gummies and sugar intake?

Absolutely. Discussing your concerns with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance based on your health goals and needs.

Can melatonin be used to treat sleep issues in infants?

Melatonin is generally not recommended for infants without the guidance of a pediatrician. Infant sleep patterns are different, and other strategies are usually preferred.

Are there any side effects of melatonin in children?

Side effects can include drowsiness, changes in mood, and gastrointestinal issues. Discuss potential side effects with a pediatrician.

Can I give my child melatonin without consulting a doctor?

It’s strongly advised to consult a pediatrician before giving melatonin to your child. They can assess the situation and recommend an appropriate course of action.

Are there natural alternatives to melatonin for children?

Yes, establishing consistent sleep routines, creating a calming bedtime environment, and limiting screen time before bed are natural approaches to improving children’s sleep. Please see our list of melatonin alternatives above.

Can melatonin help with my child’s nightmares?

Melatonin’s primary function is to regulate sleep-wake cycles, so it may not directly address nightmares. Discuss nightmares with a pediatrician to explore appropriate solutions.

 

References

  1. Harvard School of Public Health, Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity: retrieved on May 12, 2016
  2. Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;(2):CD001520.
  3. Buscemi N, Vandermeer B, et al. Efficacy and safety of exogenous melatonin for secondary sleep disorders and sleep disorders accompanying sleep restriction: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2006 Feb 18;332(7538):385-93. Review. Texte intégral : www.bmj.com
  4. BMJ, Rapid responses to : Efficacy and safety of exogenous melatonin for secondary sleep disorders and sleep disorders accompanying sleep restriction: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2006 Feb 18;332(7538):385-93. Review. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com.
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