Did you know melatonin is one of the most popular supplements in the United States? Over 3 million Americans use this supplement to get sound sleep. These supplements are quickly growing in popularity, and more options continue to be created.
Melatonin supplements help people get a night of sound sleep. They may also help treat disorders such as jet lag, insomnia, or Delayed Sleep Disorder (DSWPD). Melatonin supplements are available over the counter in many forms like pills, chewable tablets, gummies, etc.
If you are considering trying melatonin for sleep, you may be curious to know more about it. This article explores what melatonin is, how it works, its benefits, and its potential side effects. All this information can help get the most use out of it.
What is melatonin and how does it work?
Melatonin, or the hormone of darkness, is a natural hormone produced by our pineal gland. Its primary job is to regulate our sleep-wake or day and night cycle. When it’s dark, our body produces more melatonin (hence the name hormone of darkness). As the sun rises, it produces the least amount signaling the body to stay awake.
People who have trouble sleeping generally have lower levels of melatonin. Higher amounts of melatonin signal the body to sleep, which is why externally adding melatonin can help get a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin supplements can be made using the glands of microorganisms and animals. But, a more common and safer method of production is synthetic.
What Are the Benefits of Melatonin?
Most often, this ‘sleep hormone’ is one of the most popular sleep aids. It is generally used by people with sleep disorders as direct benefits to people with insomnia, Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD), jet lag, and shift workers with disrupted routines.
Apart from supporting better sleep, melatonin also helps manage blood pressure, immune function, and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It can also benefit eye health, some types of depression, and even acid reflux.
Some researchers have also found that Melatonin acts as an antioxidant that can benefit other health conditions. Further research is needed to determine its impact.
How and When to Take Melatonin?
Melatonin supplements are available in different forms like pills, gummies, etc. You don’t need to take a huge dose to see the benefits. Taking a higher amount doesn’t make it work faster or better, so start with a small dose. You can slowly increase the amount if needed.
When to take it depends on your intention of use. It is recommended not to drive or operate any heavy machinery after taking it. The body absorbs melatonin very rapidly, and the levels generally peak in 60 minutes. At this point, the person starts to feel drowsy and slowly falls asleep. This, however, is the average. Different bodies metabolize melatonin differently. Some may absorb it faster, and others might take a bit longer.
It’s a good rule of thumb to take it 1 hour before you want to sleep.
Light controls the levels of this hormone in our body, so try not to let artificial lights disrupt its effects. Switch off your overhead lights and avoid any electronic devices with bright lights like Phones or television.
How Long Does It Last?
Melatonin is a fast-acting supplement with a very short half-life. The half-life of a medication is the time our body takes to digest, absorb and eliminate it from our body. According to research, melatonin has a half-life of 20 min to 1 hour. This means, typically, your body takes approximately 4 hours to eliminate it.
But everyone metabolizes differently. How fast your body eliminates the supplement can depend on age, overall health, tobacco or caffeine levels, other medications, and how often you consume melatonin.
Depending on the dose and formulation of the supplement, it can last anywhere from 4-8 hours. A good 8-hour sleep is recommended after taking the supplement. Otherwise, you might wake up tired or groggy.
Regular vs. Extended Release
There are two different types of supplements available in the market – Regular and Extended-Release.
Regular tablets start dissolving as soon as you take them, and melatonin reaches your bloodstream almost immediately.
As the name suggests, extended-release dissolves slowly and mimics the way your body produces the hormone during the night. This is considered better for people with sleep disorders.
A doctor can help you decide which one is the best for you.
Is It Safe?
The most important question – is it safe?
Generally speaking, Melatonin supplements are safe to consume. It’s unlikely that you will become dependent on melatonin – unlike other sleep medications.
That said, it should only be taken for short periods. If you are considering using melatonin for a longer-term, it’s best to consult your doctor.
The most common side effects of melatonin might include:
- Stomach discomfort or Nausea
- Excessive sleepiness/Drowsiness
- Feeling hungover or a heavy-head feeling
- Short lasting sudden Anxiety
- A brief period of Depression
Melatonin supplements may also interact with other medications like blood pressure, blood thinners, antidepressants, and diabetes. Do not use melatonin if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have diabetes, have blood pressure issues, or have depression. Melatonin supplements may affect blood sugar and blood pressure levels, so it’s best to take your doctor’s advice before trying them.
Pharmaceutical-Grade Melatonin for Optimal Sleep Support
Everybody reacts to supplements and medications differently, so melatonin may or may not work for you. Multiple pieces of research have found that melatonin helps people with insomnia and other sleep disorders drift off to sleep. If you have been taking over-the-counter melatonin but are not seeing an improvement in your sleep cycle, consider speaking to a physician. Hormone experts that are knowledgeable about melatonin can help you find the best treatment for a healthy night’s sleep.
Melatonin SR (sustained-release) pharmaceutical-grade tablets are available for those suffering from sleep disorders. The hormone specialists at EVOLVE telemedicine can help you find pharmaceutical-grade melatonin that will provide you with an optimal sleep cycle. Pharmaceutical-grade melatonin is specifically compounded for doctors and hormone therapy professionals. Contact EVOLVE patient care to receive the support you need to sleep better and feel rested in the morning!
Quick Fact: Did you know certain foods contain melatonin?
Foods like oranges, tomatoes, walnuts, bananas, rice, pineapples, eggs, milk, etc., can help you regulate your sleep cycle and improve sleep quality.