Melatonin is a common dietary supplement that has gained worldwide popularity. While best known as a natural sleep aid, it also has powerful effects on other aspects of your health. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the benefits and potential side effects of melatonin, as well as its optimal dosage.
what is melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is primarily responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm to manage your natural sleep cycle.
Therefore, it is often used as a sleep aid for problems such as insomnia. In addition to improving sleep, melatonin is involved in managing immune function, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. Additionally, it acts as an antioxidant, which has been found to significantly affect many health conditions. In fact, studies show melatonin can improve eye health, reduce symptoms of seasonal depression, and even ease acid reflux.
help with better sleep
Melatonin is often called the sleep hormone—and for good reason. It is one of the most popular sleep aids and a common natural remedy for problems such as insomnia. Multiple studies have shown that melatonin can support better sleep.
Studies have shown that melatonin can increase total sleep time, shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, and improve sleep quality in children and adults. However, while melatonin has fewer side effects than other sleep medications, it may be less effective.
Reduce symptoms of seasonal depression
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a common disorder estimated to affect up to 10% of the world’s population. This type of depression is associated with seasonal changes and occurs around the same time each year, with symptoms usually appearing in late fall to early winter. Research suggests that this may be related to changes in circadian rhythms caused by seasonal light changes. Because melatonin plays a role in regulating circadian rhythms, low doses are often used to reduce symptoms of seasonal depression.
Increases levels of human growth hormone
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a hormone essential for growth and cell regeneration. Higher levels of this important hormone have also been linked to increases in strength and muscle mass. Supplementation with melatonin may increase human growth hormone levels in men.
promote eye health
Melatonin is rich in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and keep your eyes healthy. In fact, research suggests that melatonin may be beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Supplementation with 3 mg of melatonin over 6-24 months helps protect the retina, delay age-related damage and maintain clear vision. In addition, melatonin reduced the severity and incidence of retinopathy – an eye disease that affects the retina and can lead to vision loss.
Helps treat gastroesophageal reflux disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition caused by the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn , nausea and belching . Melatonin has been shown to block the secretion of stomach acid. It also reduces the production of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to enter the esophagus.
Melatonin blocks gastric acid secretion and nitric oxide synthesis. Research shows that it may be effective in reducing heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux symptoms when used alone or with medication.
How to Increase Melatonin Levels Naturally
You can increase melatonin levels without supplementation:
1. A few hours before bed, dim all the lights in your home and avoid watching TV and using your computer or smartphone.
2. Too much artificial light can reduce the production of melatonin in the brain, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
3. You can also enhance your sleep-wake cycle by exposing yourself to plenty of natural light during the day, especially in the morning. Other factors associated with lower natural melatonin levels are stress and shift work.
Melatonin can be taken in doses of 0.5-10 mg per day. However, since not all melatonin supplements are the same, it’s best to stick to the recommended dosage on the label to avoid unwanted side effects.
You may also want to start with a lower dose and then increase it as needed to find what works for you. If you are using melatonin to improve sleep quality, try taking it 30 minutes before bed for maximum effect. Meanwhile, if you’re using it to correct your circadian rhythm and establish a more regular sleep schedule, you should take it about 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Safety and Side Effects
Studies have shown that short- and long-term use of melatonin in adults is safe and non-addictive. Additionally, despite concerns that melatonin supplementation may reduce the body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin, some research suggests otherwise.
1. Because long-term studies on the effects of melatonin have been limited to adults, it is not currently recommended for use in children or adolescents.
2. Some of the most common side effects associated with melatonin include nausea, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness.
3. Melatonin may also interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, blood thinners, and blood pressure medications. If you are taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor before taking melatonin to prevent side effects.
Who should not take melatonin
1. Young people cannot take melatonin
Adolescents are in a period of growth and development, and their physical condition is constantly evolving. If they are chronically dependent on melatonin to supplement their body with nutrients, they are likely to become dependent.
2. Pregnant women should not take melatonin
Pregnant women with babies should not take melatonin for long periods of time. Melatonin can effectively treat mental illness, but it also has a strong stimulating effect on pregnant women, so pregnant women should not take it, otherwise it may have certain effects on the fetus.
3. Patients with nephritis cannot take melatonin
If a patient with nephritis takes melatonin for a long time, it may aggravate the condition and lead to complications of various diseases. Therefore, many patients with nephritis cannot take melatonin.
Can you overdose on melatonin?
Although melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body, taking too much supplemental melatonin can disrupt your circadian rhythm (also known as the sleep-wake cycle). It can also cause other unwanted side effects.
So, technically, you can overdose on melatonin. However, melatonin overdose can be difficult to define because there is no official standard safe dose for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of melatonin than others. A dose that may trigger side effects in one person may have little effect in others.
Young children should avoid melatonin use unless otherwise directed by their doctor. Doses of 1 to 5 milligrams (mg) may cause seizures or other complications in young children. In adults, the standard dose used in studies is between 1 and 10 mg, although there is no established “optimal” dose. Doses in the 30 mg range are thought to be potentially harmful.
In general, if you see encouraging results, it’s best to start low and work your way up slowly and carefully. If your sleep problems persist, talk to your doctor.
How much melatonin should I take?
A safe dose of melatonin is the lowest dose that is effective in helping you fall asleep without causing side effects. In general, a dose between 0.2 and 5 mg is considered a safe starting dose. Safe doses depend on your weight, age, and sensitivity to supplements.
Symptoms of Melatonin Overdose
Too much melatonin may have the opposite effect of its intended purpose. It can make it harder to fall asleep because your normal circadian rhythm is disrupted. Overdose can also make you feel groggy and sleepy during the day and give you nightmares or extremely vivid dreams at night. You can also experience:
- irritability or anxiety
- joint pain
For some people, too much melatonin can affect their blood pressure. Medications that lower blood pressure, such as calcium channel blockers and beta blockers, may reduce the body’s natural production of melatonin.
However, taking supplements to compensate for lower melatonin levels may not always be advisable. Be sure to check with your doctor about melatonin and any other supplements you take if you take medications that help control your blood pressure.
What not to take with melatonin
Because melatonin affects your sleep-wake cycle, avoid taking it with alcohol or caffeine . These interfere with your circadian rhythm and natural melatonin production.
Talk to your doctor before starting melatonin or any over-the-counter medicine or supplement. This is especially the case if you take other medicines.
For example, birth control pills may cause your body to start producing more melatonin, so taking supplements may push your levels into an unhealthy range.
Taking melatonin with anticoagulant medicines such as warfarin (Coumarin) may increase your risk of bleeding.
If you take corticosteroids to suppress your immune response to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you should avoid taking melatonin.
Melatonin improves sleep, eye health, seasonal depression, HGH levels, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Doses of 0.5-10 mg per day appear to be effective, but it is best to follow label recommendations. Melatonin is safe with minimal side effects, but may interact with certain medications. Not recommended for children at this time.