As a company that sells a supplement, we always stress the importance of speaking to your doctor before adding a supplement to your routine. No supplement is correct for everyone. Reviewing your goals and medications with your doctor means your doctor can help you learn if a supplement will help you or not be suitable.
Sometimes a supplement can become incredibly popular. People can take it without questioning if it’s safe or right for them. Melatonin has become synonymous with sleep supplements. In 2018, Americans were taking double the amount of melatonin that they were a decade before.
According to studies, short-term use of melatonin is generally safe. It appears to be okay if it is used for jet lag, the clock changing or occasional sleep problems. However, it has been linked to problems like headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach problems, confusion and disorientation and mood issues like anxiety, irritability and depression. It may also cause tremors and low blood pressure. It can interact with common medications and cause allergic reactions.
Not much is known about the long-term use of melatonin. In general, using a daily sleep aid isn’t recommended. “In an associational study, we found that older adults who reported frequent use — every night or most nights — of a sleep aid (over the counter or prescription) had a higher risk of incident dementia and early mortality,” said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins of Harvard Medical School.
The dosage of melatonin is supposed to be five milligrams a day, taken occasionally as needed. Some people take far more than that every day, throwing off their body’s natural production of melatonin and potentially dangerously overdosing. Additionally, people with dementia should steer clear of melatonin as a rule, as their bodies metabolize it more slowly. That can cause daytime drowsiness and can lead to falls, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Melatonin can be found in foods. If you want to get melatonin into your evenings to help you sleep, eating more fish, whole grains, tart cherries, eggs, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds could help. Those are natural sources that would be impossible to overdo.
Speaking to your doctor about your concerns could address your sleep concerns. Melatonin comes in prescription forms where the dosage is controlled and the time you take it is pre-set. That lets you know you are within a safe limit, and your doctor can account for your other medications. You can also discuss if any other factors might be impacting your sleep.
Our team likes taking control of our health through diet, exercise, lifestyle and supplements. However, it’s essential to recognize that supplements are not a one-size-fits-all solution. While melatonin can be beneficial in some situations, it’s not ideal for everyone.