Does Melatonin Work to Fall Asleep?
With the constant stresses and demands of daily life, it’s no wonder people struggle to fall asleep. We face constant attention-consuming tasks that include caring for oneself and one’s family and working the daily grind. Many of us also keep up with a loyal community of friends, work on passions, and strive to make the world a better place.
With all those paths to pursue and maintain, people nowadays are more likely to stay up late. Many of us want to squeeze every minute of sunlight out of every day.
While living a rich, fulfilling life is essential to health and happiness, you can’t do that without proper sleep. However, many people suffer from restlessness.
Sleep deprivation may well be the result of an imbalance or lack of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone, a natural product of the body, and it’s also available as a supplement. If you’re curious about melatonin supplements to bring your circadian sleep schedule back to normal, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s essential to educate yourself before starting any supplements. Plus, seeing a medical professional will determine whether melatonin will work for you and which dosage would work best.
What Is Melatonin?
Before diving further into how to supplement melatonin, let’s look at the hormone itself.
Melatonin production occurs naturally. Melatonin is a hormone that maintains your body’s sleep and wake cycles, also known as circadian rhymes.
Most people maintain an average rhythm of about eight hours of sleep and sixteen hours of daytime activity. Melatonin may aid in regulating these cycles.
The melatonin hormone production occurs in the pineal gland in the brain. The amino acid tryptophan synthesizes the chemical, which flows through the blood and spinal fluid.
The amount of melatonin running through your system at any point will vary, depending on factors such as:
- The time of day
- How much physical exercise you’ve had
- How much sun exposure you’ve had
- How much caffeine you’ve consumed
- And more
What Are the Uses for the Supplement?
Supplements can be useful in situations where your natural circadian rhythms are out of sync.
If you’ve been spending many nights staying up late working, drinking coffee, or watching television, your system won’t know when to produce melatonin. As such, you also won’t know when to sleep because of the lack of melatonin.
Your body works best when it has some semblance of a routine (i.e., a constant bedtime, little/no caffeine at night, etc.). When you have an irregular schedule, it can disrupt your sleep cycles.
You should use natural methods to get back into your rhythm, such as by creating a set schedule, getting exercise, etc. However, sometimes we need a quick temporary solution to fall asleep.
With a doctor’s supervision, melatonin can help in a variety of situations:
When you’re traveling across time zones to a new time zone, jet lag occurs. If you’re staying in another place for a short period, it’ll probably take too long to balance your sleep schedule naturally.
Using a melatonin supplement with proper dosages can overcome taking too long to get to sleep, and can induce adequate sleep while traveling.
If you work a job where your schedules change every week, it’s hard for your body to maintain a natural circadian rhythm. Nurses, flight attendants, and others often face this challenge. One week they work day shifts while the next they work nights.
Shift workers can benefit from melatonin supplements. Along with sleep masks, blackout curtains, and a hot bath, this natural solution may help people get restful sleep.
Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder
Some individuals have disrupted circadian rhythms. The condition means that individuals gradually start to get sleepier later in the day and consequently wake up later. Their schedules don’t follow the typical 24-hour cycle.
Most people who have this condition are blind, but it’s not exclusive to the blind community.
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Melatonin helps induce sleepiness. As such, taking melatonin tricks the body into following a regulated 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.
If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, taking melatonin may help.
Doctors recommend melatonin to help stabilize people with insomnia or other sleep disorder and help them fall asleep.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine research suggests that along with the supplements, you should also utilize sleep masks, white noise, and smells, among other things, to help the effects of melatonin for improved sleep quality. Other than melatonin use, various complementary and integrative health techniques can be used to overcome delayed sleep disorders rather than resorting to sleep medicine.
Talking with a Doctor
If you suffer from any of the conditions/situations above, talk to a doctor about using melatonin supplements. The synthetic hormone is available over the counter without a prescription in most countries. However, talking with a medical professional will help you determine your current melatonin levels, and form an action plan.
Check with your doctor, the can provide medical advice and determine whether you’re allergic to melatonin before using it. You’ll also want to talk to them concerning prior conditions that you have, such as:
- A blood clotting disorder
- If you’re using a blood thinner
- If you have unnaturally high or low blood pressure
- A seizure disorder such as epilepsy
- If you’re using organ transfer rejection prevention medication
- If you have an autoimmune disorder
- If you’re using other sedatives or tranquilizers
- If you’re pregnant or nursing
Benefits of the Supplement
Consuming synthetic melatonin to help boost low natural melatonin levels can help relieve various ailments. As opposed to alternative methods to solve your issues, the hormone has several benefits:
- The drug is effective. The careful administration of the chemical can help re-balance your body’s internal clock. After consuming melatonin for sleep for a while, you’re likely to experience deeper and better sleep.
- Melatonin lacks the harsh secondary effects common in other sleep medicine. The supplement doesn’t foster long-term dependency in users, making it ideal for short-term use.
- You can find melatonin supplements at most grocery/drug stores. Because of the commonplace nature of the drug and the effectiveness, about 3 million Americans take melatonin.
Setbacks of the Supplement
Like all medicines, there are some downsides to the use of melatonin supplements in the long term. The potential side effects make it essential to speak with a medical professional before using melatonin.
Most people taking melatonin will not feel any side effects. If they do, these side effects can include:
- Daytime drowsiness when awake
Melatonin for Sleep
Melatonin supplements may help to balance your sleep cycles. Talk with a doctor and see if using it might aid in gaining control of your sleep patterns. When it comes time to sleep, use melatonin to help make it simpler.