Maybe you’ve considered taking melatonin to improve your sleep quality and cut back on tired, slow mornings, and you are wondering about the health impacts of these tablets. Or perhaps you have never heard of melatonin before and are simply searching for a solution to your sleep problems.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone our bodies naturally produce in the pineal gland (located in the brain) that plays a key role in our sleep-wake cycle. The melatonin in an over-the-counter tablet is a lab-made form of the hormone that is typically used to help with sleep problems like insomnia or jet lag.
How Does Melatonin Work?
In our bodies, melatonin is naturally produced as the sun goes down and stops production as the sun rises. Put simply, darkness promotes melatonin production, and light inhibits it. The hormone melatonin inhibits our brain’s ability to promote wakefulness and helps decrease our energy levels so that we feel tired and go to sleep.
Pros of Taking Melatonin
Many studies show that melatonin may have a few major bodily benefits. Since melatonin is naturally produced in our bodies, this comes as no surprise to many scientists.
Supports Better Sleep
Improved sleep quality is typically why people take melatonin supplements in the first place. When you do not get enough sleep, you may experience trouble focusing, irritability, and more difficulty conducting your daily activities.
Research has shown that taking melatonin two hours before bed can help enhance sleep quality and help people fall asleep faster.
Increases Levels of Human Growth Hormone
The human growth hormone (HGH) is a particularly vital hormone to the growth and regeneration of cells. One study of 32 men found that taking melatonin effectively increased HGH levels. This said, more studies are needed to determine how melatonin affects HGH levels in the general population.
Can Reduce Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
Research into this claim is still inconclusive, but it is possible that taking melatonin may be effective in treating symptoms of seasonal depression. Some studies show that taking melatonin can help treat these symptoms, while other research shows no effect at all.
Cons of Taking Melatonin
As with any other supplement, before you take it, you should be aware of the negative health impacts it may have on your body.
Some common side effects of melatonin tablets are:
There are, in some cases, more extreme side effects listed below. You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience the following side effects.
- Abdominal cramps
- Confusion or disorientation
- Low blood pressure
- Feelings of depression or anxiety
Interactions with Other Medications
Melatonin can interact negatively with certain medications, making it an ineffective option for people who are on any of the following types of medications.
- CNS depressants
- Blood thinners
- Blood pressure drugs
- Contraceptive drugs
- Diabetes drugs
Not Recommended for Children
Because current research on the safety of melatonin as a sleep aid has been restricted to adults, melatonin’s effect on children is widely unknown. Until more specific research is done with a younger audience, giving your children melatonin tablets without first consulting their pediatrician is not recommended.
Not Recommended for All Adults
While research into melatonin’s effects on adults is available, many studies have shown that not all adults should use melatonin for sleep aid.
Adults with any of the following conditions should ask a physician before using melatonin.
- Autoimmune disorders
- Seizure disorder
- Allergy to melatonin
- Liver or kidney problems
Not Recommended for Long-Term Use
Long-term use of these tablets is not recommended because it may cause side effects. Additionally, long-term use of melatonin may leave you feeling dependent on over-the-counter melatonin tablets to sleep rather than relying on your body’s natural melatonin production.
The bottom line is that while melatonin may help in the short term, it is not a safe option for everyone and should not be used as a long-term solution. If you are having trouble sleeping or getting quality rest, the best solution is to see a sleep specialist.
Sleep specialists, like those at Sleep Dynamics, can help you determine why your sleep habits are not working for you and come up with a personalized solution based on your particular needs. Contact us today at Sleep Dynamics to discuss your sleep treatment options.