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Is Melatonin Safe to Use as a Sleep Aid?

Updated on June 19, 2013

I Just Want to Go to Sleep!

To dream, to sleep
To dream, to sleep | Source

FACT:

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep, it won't make you sleepy!

Help Me Sleep Now!

Having trouble sleeping is a real headache for those of us who just can't fall asleep at night. When you're laying in bed tossing and turning, knowing you have to get up for work in a few hours, all you want is relief.



You've heard horror stories about Ambien users who seem alert and drive and go about their business, but later have no knowledge or memory of doing so. Prescription sleep aids are definitely out of the question.



You want something to help you sleep without side effects, so you turn to something natural. It's natural and I can buy it over the counter, so it has to be safe, right? Wrong.


Melatonin is a Natural Product

Yes, melatonin is natural. In fact, our bodies produce melatonin and it is even found in small amounts in certain foods. This hormone is what keeps our sleep cycles regulated. Basically it tells our bodies when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Our melatonin levels naturally rise in the evenings and decrease during the day. Melatonin rises and falls in our systems because of the amount of light we are exposed to.

Because we know that melatonin is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, we assume it's safe to supplement our diets by buying a bottle and taking two or three pills a night to help us sleep.

We take calcium and multivitamins and know it's fine, it's recommended by nutritionists and doctors. We trust that they know what's best for us because they're the so-called experts, but sometimes they are just as uninformed as the rest of us.


How Safe is Melatonin?

FACT:

In Europe, high doses of melatonin are used for contraception!

Melatonin Side Effects

Even though melatonin is natural and produced by your body, you can still have too much in your system. So what happens when you take too much melatonin?

  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Grogginess (a hangover feeling the next day)
  • Loss of libido
  • Fatigue
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Infertility

In Europe and Canada, a prescription is needed to take melatonin. Here in America, it is sold as an over-the-counter supplement.

Melatonin can also interact with certain medications. You should consult with your doctor if you are taking anti-depressants or blood pressure medications before you begin taking melatonin. Melatonin interferes with you body's ability to absorb these medications, and, therefore, will reduce their effectiveness.


Related Articles to Help You Sleep



Source

Dangers of Melatonin

While taking melatonin won't be as detrimental as taking Ambien and sleep driving, it still can cause harm to your body.

What is melatonin? It's a hormone. For a woman on menopause, would you take two, three times your recommended dose of estrogen? Would you pop testosterone pills? Of course not, it would cause unwanted side effects because it is disrupting your body's natural balance.

Taking melatonin produces a vicious cycle. You can't sleep, so you take melatonin. The more melatonin you take, the less your body thinks it needs to make. Because you aren't naturally producing melatonin, you can't sleep. You can't sleep, so you take melatonin.

If you're truly do need to take melatonin because your body is not producing enough, the recommended dose is 0.3 to 1.0. Take a stroll down the supplement aisle at your grocery store or pharmacy, you'll see that most pills are 5.0, or in some cases 10.0.


What Can I Take to Help Me Sleep?

Fortunately, there are many all natural, non-addictive sleep aids that will not disrupt your body's rhythms. These products work with your body to help you sleep.

Calms Forte is a homeopathic product that will relax you and help you fall asleep quickly. It is gentle enough that even children can take it.

Another great product is Bach Rescue Sleep. This is a great product if your brain just won't shut off and stop thinking. It's all natural as well, and it is not habit forming.

Most people aren't aware that insomnia can be a symptom of a greater problem going on in their bodies. Insomnia is a sign that you are magnesium deficient. Simply taking 400-800 milligrams of magnesium 30 minutes before bed has allowed me to finally get to sleep after suffering from insomnia for years.


Lifestyle Changes Can Also Improve Sleep

We are really tough on our bodies. Sometimes all it needs is a little rest and relaxation to fall back into the proper sleep pattern. Follow these tips to improve your sleep:

  • Sleep in a completely dark room
  • Soak in an Epsom salts bath
  • Don't drink caffeine
  • Eliminate sugar from your diet
  • Don't eat carbs close to bedtime


Conclusion

When you haven't been able to sleep for nights on end, you just want to be able to sleep. We turn to natural products because we think we are helping our bodies. If we are not properly informed, we can end up harming ourselves.

Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies. However, taking too much melatonin actually tells our bodies to make less, which in turn keeps us from sleeping. Melatonin also can cause some undesirable side effects that can be dangerous.

Instead of turning to melatonin to help you sleep, try altering your nighttime routine and take some homeopathic sleep aids. This will allow your melatonin levels to normalize on their own naturally which will let you sleep like a baby.

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    • Abbyfitz profile image
      Author

      Abbyfitz 3 years ago from Florida

      The problem is though, you'll eventually need more and more to have the same effect. It's not good to mess with the body's hormonal system

    • ThoughtsWriter profile image

      ThoughtsWriter 3 years ago from America

      I really like melatonin. It was rough at first, but once I got the dosing correct it worked like a charm.

    • Abbyfitz profile image
      Author

      Abbyfitz 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the advice!

    • Paul Maplesden profile image

      Paul Maplesden 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      As an imsomniac, I found this hub very useful. What would give it extra authority and validity is if you could like to scientific studies that support your claims.