If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you’ve probably heard someone mention melatonin as a sleep aide at some point. But you may not know much about the chemical. Is it safe to use, and can it actually help you sleep?
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that our bodies produce to regulate sleep cycles. Darkness triggers the production of melatonin, helping our bodies to naturally start to feel sleepy as the day nears an end. As the sun comes up, melatonin levels decrease, helping us to wake up and gain energy in the morning.
Although melatonin is naturally produced, it can also be found in pill form for those whose bodies aren’t making enough. It is often used to treat sleep disorders, specifically insomnia. Many people use it when they are jet-lagged or if they are starting a new job with a drastically different schedule, for example switching from shift work to a 9-to-5 job.
What happens when you don’t have enough melatonin?
An insufficient amount of melatonin in your body can make it difficult to sleep. This can mean that you have trouble falling asleep at night or that you wake up continually throughout the night. Some people may find themselves feeling anxious before bed, or not wanting to go to sleep at all.
Although melatonin helps us to get naturally tired at night, a melatonin deficiency doesn’t mean that you will have more energy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Your poor sleep cycles will mean that you will feel drowsy throughout the day but will still have trouble falling asleep.
How do melatonin supplements work?
Melatonin supplements generally come in pill form but are also available in dissolvable tablets. The pills are supposed to enter your bloodstream and increase the amount of melatonin in your body, making up for your body’s inability to produce it naturally. Once the melatonin is absorbed, you should feel sleepy and be able to sleep more easily without interruptions.
Is melatonin safe to take?
Because melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, it is generally viewed as a safe dietary supplement. But it should be noted that melatonin is not considered medication and isn’t approved by the FDA. As with any supplement, you should never take more than the recommended dosage, and you should always consult with a doctor before starting a melatonin regimen.
Side effects of melatonin
Side effects are rare and usually mild, but could include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vivid dreams.
Who should take melatonin?
If you are suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders, melatonin may be an option for you. Remember that you should always check with your doctor before starting any sort of supplement or medication. But many people have reported improved sleep after taking the recommended dose of melatonin. Just make sure that you don’t have any other disorders that may react with the supplement.