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    Melatonin is Used Increasingly as a Sleep Aid But It Can Have Side Effects!

    As a natural sleep aid, many individuals rely on Melatonin. 

    Melatonin is a water-soluble complex supplement derived from serotonin and has been touted as a sleep aid for decades now.  However, it has been known to cause certain side effects and although individuals might take it nightly, this is not recommended.  Only short-term use for assistance in treating insomnia is recommended and even this is not a proven fact. While most individuals do not experience any side effects, the most common ones are headache, dizziness, nausea, and stomach upset.  The most troubling side effects of melatonin seem to revolve around the interactions this supplement can have with other drugs, or other existing conditions.  Anyone suffering from depression can find that melatonin is not recommended as it can cause variations in mood and increase anxiety and depression.  This warning is present on all melatonin supplements bottles right on the back or the side of the bottle. 

    Melatonin is used to assist in regulating the Circadian Rhythm which is the sleep/wake body cycle.

    A major cause of Circadian Rhythm disruption is lack of a regular pattern of sleep.  The pattern of sleep is determined by the daylight that is experienced.  In simple terms, melatonin levels go down during daylight and rise during the darkness, which then leads to sleep.  In some individuals this pattern is thrown off entirely as they can work nights, or swing shifts, or have a habit of staying up too late. Melatonin is also routinely recommended for travelers that experience jet lag as the time differences do impact the body clock.  The blind in society especially experience severe disruption of sleep/wake cycles, as it is always dark for them no matter the time of day.  Many of the blind and those with erratic schedules either use sleeping pills or natural remedies like melatonin that are recommended by their physician. Without adequate light and dark periods, the body cannot produce enough hormone to adjust on its own to the time of day or night. 

    This does not mean that melatonin is without risk or side effects. 

    Melatonin can be taken orally or even as an injectable.  It comes in pill form, liquid form, and as chewable gummies.  It can even be applied to the skin in some instances for absorption that way if stomach upset occurs.  There is also an intravenous method used by hospitals.  It is sold almost everywhere without a prescription even in grocery stores and at almost all pharmacies and health food stores.  There is an all-natural or “pure” melatonin, and a synthetic, which is generally cheaper in price.   There are cases where it has been taken routinely for up to two years for mild insomnia, but most physicians would not recommend habitual use.  There was some buzz around melatonin having an impact on Covid-19, but this was and still is not proven.  While taking melatonin, it is advised that an individual not drive for at least four to five hours afterward as it does produce drowsiness.  As with any other type of natural or synthetic product effects may diminish as the body becomes used to it, and efficacy will be impaired if taken too long and too many times per week or month.

    Many of the adverse side effects are linked to drug interactions and other pre-existing conditions. 

    The pre-existing conditions include but are not limited to depression (as discussed above), diabetes, high or low blood pressure, bleeding disorders, seizure disorders and the recipients of organ transplants.  It is not something that someone undergoing chemotherapy should consider as the effects of all medications and the effects of melatonin on a suppressed immune system (which is what chemotherapy does) are unknown entirely.   It is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women or children of any age.  Some medications interfere with the absorption of melatonin, while others increase the absorption and this leads to taking a supplement that will not be absorbed or effective at all, or at the opposite end, with too much absorption, a supplement that will be overly absorbed and flood the body with its effects.  There also are dosage requirements and varying dosages available and a good way to establish how much melatonin to take, the amount of time to take it, and the best times to take it, is by having a discussion with a physician prior to starting a melatonin regimen. 

    Dosage requirements vary according to the intensity of the insomnia and a person’s health.

    The dosage requirements are 2-3 mg to start for up to 24 weeks according to WebMD, with requirements for longer usage and explanations provided on this website that has used verifiable studies on melatonin, the side effects, and the dosages.  2-3 mg is a starting point it seems for intermittent insomnia. Individuals that suffer from more established insomnia will be advised for 12 mg and up, with some blind individuals, because of a lack of wake/sleep cycle ability, will be advised to take melatonin in the amounts of up to 20 mgs, with a duration of up to six years or more.  Of course, being blind is chronic and although this is a heavy amount of melatonin, the side effects are outweighed by the absolute inability of a blind individual to establish a Circadian Rhythm.  If all else fails there are prescription drugs on the market as well and a doctor may very well turn to these in an effort to assist a blind person in living a more normal life as they do already suffer enough.  Overall, starting a melatonin regimen should start with advice from a physician.  (Web MD Dosage).

  • Articles

    End Tossing And Turning All Night Once And For All With Natural Sleep Aids Or Sleeping Pills!

    Being unable to sleep, getting up numerous times each night, or awakening too early is frustrating.

    Many individuals suffer from one, or more, of the conditions listed above.  All are considered a form of insomnia and insomnia runs the gamut from not falling asleep to awakening too early with many types of insomnia in between.  It affects millions of individuals chronically each year.  Some individuals battle it for a lifetime.  People worry more now than ever before, while working more than ever before and are chronically sleep deprived even if they do not suffer from insomnia.  One of the oddest things about insomnia is that the more sleep deprived and tired one becomes, the more difficult it might be to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.  Busy people tend to worry more and take their worries to bed with them each night.  In addition, women tend to suffer from insomnia more than men, and researchers are not sure why. 

    Food, caffeine, and alcohol can all trigger insomnia as they affect brain chemistry. 

    Sugar has long been known as a pick-me-up so should be avoided before bedtime.  Too many cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks during the day can trigger insomnia.  Although many individuals do believe that alcohol can relax them and help them unwind, it does the opposite when it comes to sleep.  It not only contains sugar, but alcohol blunts some brain chemicals needed for a restful slumber.  Another big factor and one that cannot be avoided is having to work nights.  This disrupts the body’s Circadian Rhythm which is the sleep/wake cycle of our body clocks.  Once this is disrupted a pattern for sleeping is not established internally within the body.  Over the long-haul sleep deprivation has serious consequences and needs to be addressed.  Both mental and physical maladies occur when restful sleep is not obtained for months or years.  Depression can occur mentally, and oftentimes weight gain also occurs which brings with it, heart disease, diabetes, and other physical problems and diseases

    There are ways to address insomnia either through sleeping pills or natural sleep aids. 

    Many individuals who only have mild, intermittent problems sleeping resort to home remedies to help them sleep better.  They might drink a glass or warm milk, or have a cup of chamomile tea, both of which are touted by many in helping them overcome sleeplessness.  Other individuals will turn to melatonin which is wildly popular for assisting in sleep, or valerian root.  All the home remedies, however, show no scientific evidence that they may assist, and like with melatonin, there can be side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and headache.  Melatonin can also sometimes create anxiety or exacerbate depression, and this is noted on the back of the bottle as a precaution to those with existing mental conditions.  If insomnia is extremely chronic and long-lasting, a trip to the physician is advised for sleeping pills or some type of sedative.  Although too many sedatives can lead to addiction, taking one per day does not prove to be addictive, although they do lose the power to relax a person once a person’s body becomes used to the medications.

    Clearing one’s mind before sleep is highly recommended with or without pills or home remedies.

    Meditation is a good way to relax and clear away worries and any psychologist or doctor usually recommends learning some sort of meditation.  Turning off all interactive devices, such as the TV, cell phone, and computers also help.  It is never a good idea to be playing a video game or watching a riveting show or streamed video before attempting to sleep.  These devices and activities engage one’s mind and “rev” it up so to speak, and even though a person might feel relaxed while engaging in these activities before bed, once in bed, the mind will not shut off automatically.  Brain chemistry is a tricky thing and cannot be plugged and unplugged at will! 

    Individuals on a whole sleep less now than they did a century ago.  They also nap more. 

    Because the public is overworked, overly worried, and overly stressed much of the time, individual snow surprisingly enough take at least one twenty-minute nap each day.  Many do not admit to doing so but almost 40 percent of working adults do nap each day.  This does not enhance sleep but instead disrupts it even more.  No matter how tired one becomes napping makes sleeping at night even more difficult and should be avoided at all costs.  Instead, try to regulate your Circadian rhythm by establishing a great sleep/wake cycle and stick to the same bedtime and wake up time each day even on weekends.  A good solid schedule never hurts in the battle against insomnia. 

  • Health

    Melatonin is Promoted for Many Health Benefits but What, if Any, Are the Side Effects?

    Melatonin is a hormone that is widely touted as a sleep aid, with major impact on Circadian rhythm.

    The part of the human brain that affects the sleep/wake cycle, called the Circadian rhythm, does seem to be affected by melatonin and there are individuals that do swear by this natural hormone.  Most individuals do secrete the hormone on their own, and quite enough of it to produce restful sleep.  Others, especially those with chronic insomnia may need melatonin supplements.  The production of melatonin increases as darkness increases therefore the levels are generally higher at night for most individuals.  Others that work night shifts or shifts of different times may not produce enough melatonin to sleep during the day and may benefit from a supplement.  Other individuals might simply not produce enough but deficiencies are rare.  Melatonin can come in many forms, pills, capsules, powders, and even chewable gummies. It comes in both synthetic and natural forms and the cost is generally cheaper in the synthetic forms of melatonin. 

    It is available at most retail stores, grocery stores and pharmacies and can be ordered online.

    It has become increasingly popular in gummy form and as an additive to over the counter pain medications, alleviating pain while producing a longer and quicker sleep period in these pain/sleep combinations.  Many of these are in liquid form.  It is said to be safe for children, adults, and even pregnant women, however, any kind of supplement should be discussed with a physician first if comorbidities exist or children are given the supplement.  Dosages can vary and there are allergic reactions to melatonin reported by some individuals.  Dosage should be started at the lowest dose possible and any pharmacist can suggest which dose to purchase initially.  More than one gummy can be chewed at once and most pharmacists and consumers do prefer the use of the gummies for both dose control and convenience.  Some individuals use it only intermittently, such as when traveling as it can help with jet lag.  Big Box stores such as CVS, Walmart, RiteAid, and other places usually carry this hormone supplement.  Listings online exist for it. 

    Stephen J., of New York City, who had trouble sleeping because of an ongoing divorce, stated:

    The benefits for me were tremendous. After months of tossing and turning, I chewed just one melatonin gummy before bedtime, fell asleep immediately, and slept a full nine hours straight. I swear by it now and chew one gummy each night right before going to sleep. I will keep using this product as long as I can purchase it and it is available! I limit the usage though to my stress-filled days.

    It is still not recommended for everyone.  The medical warnings against using melatonin include:

    Diabetes, depression, bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, taking blood thinners, blood pressure issues, seizure disorders, autoimmune conditions, the use of alcohol or other sedatives or tranquilizers, or those who are using medications to help maintain an organ transplant.  Commercials abound everywhere touting melatonin, but of course, it cannot be taken that lightly.  While it is generally used to induce sleep in some individuals it does quite the opposite, with excitability and overactivity being presented.  Those suffering from depression also can see serious side effects, especially if the depression is not apparent and not diagnosed.  Because it is not classified as a drug, it can be combined with other vitamins or nutrients and sold over the counter.  There is quite a diversity in types of combinations, but Vitamin C and melatonin are popular.  Consumers can pick their choice of combinations.  Sales of melatonin are quite large because of its seeming ability to conquer insomnia.

    There is a variety of flavors available too that will appeal to toddlers and children.

    Studies do not contain a lot of information about the use in babies and melatonin for children is not recommended before a doctor is consulted.  While side effects are rare, caution, especially in children, is proposed by the medical establishment.  There are many pharmaceutical companies out there now pushing melatonin for children in the shape of bears and other types of creatures to sell this product.  However, most children do not need assistance in sleeping or the adjustment of Circadian rhythms.  The adversity most physicians have towards giving children melatonin is that it goes beyond changing the sleep/wake cycle.  It can have effects on some patterns of growth in children as well as sexual maturity.  It stays in the body sometimes longer than expected and can also leave a child groggy when awake.  Although many parents will use this hormone based on effectiveness touted online and on television commercials by companies, the Mayo Clinic does not recommend it for children or teenagers.  Add to the fact that additives are used in the production as binders and fillers, the Mayo Clinic study really suggests withholding the use of melatonin in any form for any age child. 

    Some adults find side effects bothersome too, and those with depression or anxiety should not use it.

    While it is recommended many times for seniors, since age decreases melatonin production, aging itself can lead to depression or anxiety.  While most individuals with depression are helped with melatonin, it can increase depression in others.  Those with anxiety should definitely think twice about using it, as it has been shown to increase anxiety.   It is not addictive in the true sense of the word, as there are no physical withdrawal symptoms.  However, when taken all the time, it can induce psychological dependence when an individual starts believing they will not sleep without it.  While not physically addictive as some prescription sedatives, there is a psychological dependence that can be developed.  Medical professionals still advise that melatonin should not be used every night, but only for intermittent periods, like stressful days, jet lag, and shift differentials during one’s employment. 

    Klara R., who is a police officer in Philadelphia, PA, suffered from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and had trouble sleeping. She took melatonin one time and states, “I not only did not sleep it took me longer to fall asleep. I experienced lethargy but no sleep and my mind raced. I was anxious the whole next day and during the night I experienced severe nightmares that seemed so real each time I briefly slept. I would never use melatonin again and recommend that others think long and hard before using it if they have a pre-existing condition or any type of mental or emotional problem. It did not help me but made my PTSD and sleep disorder worse!

    New uses for melatonin are being discovered because of its antioxidant properties.  

    Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals.  Free radicals cause many serious health issues. Cancer, heart disease, and other autoimmune disorders can be caused or exacerbated by too many free radicals that are invading the body.  Free radicals are released by oxygen and while oxygenation of course is a good thing, it is a double-edged sword as it does release the free radicals.  Free radicals are a contributor to the aging process and disease progression and can be a factor in as many as over fifty diseases.  Control of free radicals has been linked to the use of melatonin but much research in this area is still needed and there are no conclusive studies yet.  Taking melatonin in the hopes of reducing free radicals is on the upsurge in consumer usage, however, based on the studies, doctors really do not recommend it unless there is an ongoing battle with a disease such as cancer which cannot be controlled.  Then the benefits outweigh the risks, and it can be recommended.

    It is up to individuals to assess how much benefit and risk from melatonin usage is tolerable.

    Melatonin will always remain popular regardless, and it has been in use for over a decade.  The most popular form seems to be the gummies as they are quick and easy to take, and not overly costly.  They do have an expiration date however and can become hard and dry, and lose effectiveness if not used within a certain amount of time.  As with all supplements and medications following usage instructions, avoiding overuse, and ensuring a fresh supply exists will lead to a better experience with melatonin.  The gummies for the most part can have a shorter shelf life, just like other gummy supplements, so this must be taken into consideration when choosing what brand and how much to purchase.  Usages vary but stale supplements of any type should be avoided. 

    When in doubt about any supplements, as mentioned before, consult a physician for advice.

    There is a rather disturbing trend in the world today that exists where many individuals believe herbal and natural supplements will always be safe for anyone and the more that is taken, the better the results.  This is not so, and caution should always rule! While useful in moderation for many individuals, melatonin is not a cure all for sleep or other problems, and any time an individual ingests anything, they need to be aware of all possible side effects and potential hazards.  Choose well and choose wisely whenever anything is introduced into your body.