Is Melatonin Dangerous?
One of the chief complaints among people of all ages in America today is the inability to sleep well.
I know personally about the frustrations of not being able to get sleep.
When my kids were very young, they struggled to sleep which meant that I did too.
And a few nights of not being able to sleep can lead to some frustrating sleep patterns in the nights and weeks ahead.
There’s nothing quite like being forced by nothing in particular to stay awake at nighIt makes both the night and the day incredibly difficult. And if you string weeks and even months of that kind of annoying sleep together it doesn’t just make you feel less than stellar… there are some serious consequences that could result.
Millions of Americans depend on prescription and/or over-the-counter sleep aids to rectify a sleep deficit. And for many people, they work.
Scarily enough though is many of the drugs people use to get to sleep come with extreme consequences and side effects. So I’m always going to encourage other methods for getting better sleep.
Melatonin is one of the main all-natural supplements I’ll recommend.
The reason why is that it’s natural…
And is identical to the primary sleep hormone that your body produces.
Melatonin works great for most people.
But, I want to address some concerns people have about melatonin within this article. There are a few things you need to know about how this all-natural supplement can affect you.
Melatonin Use Is on The Rise and So Are the Concerns
Melatonin was first discovered in 1958.
This hormone is what your body uses to keep its circadian rhythm intact.
Most people think of it as a sleep hormone. That’s only somewhat accurate. Instead, it helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
So if you’re not sleeping well, that means melatonin levels are imbalanced, and by restoring them to their normal levels it could help your body relearn how to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Essentially it helps your body regulate sleep, it doesn’t help initiate sleep.
Evidence shows that it helps with sleep issues and varies wildly.
For instance, as one meta-analysis on 15 studies of melatonin observed, it only helps people fall asleep 3.9 minutes faster and helps them sleep 13 minutes longer.
But remember, that’s an average… so for some people the effects are far more dramatic.
That and an extra 17 minutes of sleep is nothing to sneeze at.
Another study found something similar. In that review of 19 studies which followed 1,700 people they observed melatonin helped people fall asleep 7 minutes faster and kept them asleep for 8 minutes more. Which is an additional 15 minutes of sleep.
So is it worth taking?
Well, consider this. Alfred Lewy, MD, who is regarded as one of the most important researchers into melatonin and is a lead professor at the Oregon Health & Science University says that it works, and generally the larger dose (3 milligrams or more) the better it can work.
But, he insists that it’s not a cure-all for everyone.
“It works for some people, but not for others,” he says. “You just have to try it and find out which one you are.”
Because melatonin is a hormone, and a supplement that is not regulated by the FDA, some people are concerned about whether or not long term use for melatonin is safe.
So How Safe Is It?
Here’s the honest truth.
We still don’t know if melatonin use is dangerous in the long run.
So far we don’t have any studies to show that it is…
Healthline wrote this about melatonin safety, and it falls in line with what I’ve come across in my research.
“A few studies have investigated the safety of melatonin, but none have revealed any serious side effects. It also doesn’t seem to cause any dependence or withdrawal symptoms.
Nonetheless, some medical practitioners are concerned that it may reduce the natural production of melatonin in the body, but short-term studies suggest no such effects.
Several studies have reported general symptoms, including dizziness, headache, nausea or agitation. However, these were equally common in the treatment and placebo groups and couldn’t be attributed to melatonin.
Melatonin supplements are generally considered safe in the short-term, even when taken in very high doses. However, more research on its long-term safety is needed, especially in children.”
The one area of concern that even I have is long-term use in children.
Any parent can attest to the fact that children can have issues sleeping…
And no parent wants to give their kids drugs to sleep all year long.
Of course, since it’s a hormone, there are questions about whether or not it should be used in a still developing body.
Boston Children’s Hospital wrote this in an article about melatonin and kids: “There are an observed few side effects in children, most of them minor, such as headaches, increased bedwetting, nightmares, dizziness, mood changes and morning grogginess, and all of which disappear with discontinuation.”
I’d think that if you use melatonin infrequently with kids, it probably won’t harm them.
If you’re an adult who needs to use it to fall asleep, I don’t think that’s a bad thing either.
Melatonin levels decline as we age, and so if you’re advancing in age and discover melatonin helps you get to sleep faster, then I’d say you can use it. If you discover it affects you negatively then discontinue use.
WARNING: Melatonin Quality Varies By Brand
It’s got to be said that the results you achieve from melatonin supplementation are somewhat dependent on the kind of melatonin you take.
There is low-quality and high-quality melatonin.
While searching for a melatonin to add to our store, we didn’t have to go far to find a high-quality product.
Actually, we have several variations in the store.
But the most commonly purchased and used is from Life Extension, which is one of the premier supplement manufacturers in the nation.
The Life Extension Melatonin 6 Hour Timed Release 300 mcg – 100 Vegetarian Tablets gives you 2-3 month’s worth of melatonin to help with your sleep.
This isn’t recommended for young children, but could work well with teens.
It’s highly effective and available at a great price too.