Can melatonin supplements help you sleep?
Melatonin is often called the sleep hormone and is closely related to how we sleep and stay awake. Studies have confirmed melatonin to help certain people fall and stay asleep. However, there is a big catch!
Melatonin supplements help only specific types of sleeping problems. In other words, melatonin will not help everyone sleep better. It will only be beneficial for a few conditions in adults and children.
Let’s explore more.
How Melatonin Makes You Sleep
We are sure you have already done your research on melatonin. So, we will keep things short and provide a summary.
Melatonin is a natural hormone our brains produce in the absence of light. Our bodies produce more melatonin as the sun sets and night draws closer. It makes us prepared for bed and peaceful sleep.
When the sun rises, our brains put a brake on producing melatonin and help us stay awake. As a result, melatonin regulates our sleep-wake circle.
Melatonin is closely related to sleep. Scientists have clearly stated the conditions where it can help people have a better sleep. We will cover them in our next section.
How Melatonin Supplements Help You Sleep
Melatonin available as a dietary supplement is generally made in the lab. They can be a good choice to fall asleep quickly as stay asleep longer. Melatonin will help you sleep if you have:
Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
Some people find it difficult to fall asleep at night. They lie awake in bed for hours before they can catch a few winks. Medical science has a name for such a condition- delayed sleep-wake phase disorder or DSWPD.
People with DSWPD need 2-hours or more to fall asleep. As a result, they also have problems waking up in the morning due to sleeping inadequate hours.
Melatonin supplements may help people with DSWPD fall asleep quicker, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also recommended melatonin supplements for DSWPD based on a 2015 study. Other studies show melatonin supplements to improve sleep and daytime functioning. So, it may even reduce the tiredness you feel due to not sleeping properly.
Melatonin may help you 22 to 34 minutes quicker, as per NIH.
Those who travel internationally are not new to jet lag. We feel tired and sick when we fly across time zones and even have trouble sleeping. Jet lag even affects our digestion and normal functioning.
Scientists have found melatonin supplements effective in providing relief from jet lag. NIH agrees on the same and presents melatonin as a quick remedy for people experiencing jet lag. It may even help with the symptoms like loss of alertness and coordination.
However, melatonin may not help people with jet lag fall asleep quickly, according to WebMD. You can say we don’t have enough research to make a confident conclusion on this aspect.
Sleeping problems can have a range of causes, including physical and mental. Melatonin may help people with sleeping trouble only if certain diseases or illnesses cause it. According to WebMD, melatonin can ease your sleeping problems if they are caused by:
- Cognitive disabilities
- Development disabilities
You can benefit from melatonin supplements if your sleeping problem is a result of the above illnesses. However, you may stop experiencing the benefits if you stop taking your melatonin supplement.
Melatonin can help other types of people with sleeping trouble. It can let shift workers sleep at the right time when their routines go for a toss. They can use melatonin supplements to put their sleep-wake cycle back to normal.
Can Melatonin Help Children Sleep?
Melatonin can allow children to sleep better only for certain conditions, just like adults. It will not be beneficial for the general young population.
According to the NIH, melatonin supplements may help children sleep better if they suffer from:
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
For the above conditions, melatonin supplements can help kids sleep faster and longer. Children can fall asleep 6.8 – 37 minutes earlier and sleep 25 – 48 minutes longer.
You should never give your children any dietary supplement without consulting a medical professional. In fact, the rule is the same for adults to allow for safe and healthy outcomes.
Does Melatonin Help in Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to fall and stay asleep or both. People who suffer from this problem for over a month are said to have chronic insomnia. Can melatonin help you sleep in insomnia?
The research on this topic is not conclusive. That means scientists cannot come to a common ground and need more evidence to say anything surely.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has said melatonin has inadequate evidence to be recommended for insomnia. However, some scientists believe otherwise and conclude melatonin is useful for insomnia.
For the time being, you shouldn’t try melatonin if you have insomnia. It will not have any significant benefits. According to WebMD, melatonin supplements may only help you sleep 7 – 12 minutes quicker.
Should You Try Melatonin for Sleep for Long-Term?
Melatonin seems to be a suitable problem for all the sleeping problems we discussed above. It can act as a short-term remedy for sleep problems if they are a result of certain conditions.
We don’t have enough research to confirm the long-term safety of taking melatonin supplements. All studies are mostly short-term trials and not suited for predicting long-term results.
You can safely take melatonin for a few weeks or months after consulting your physician. They will also help you determine if you can take your supplement for a longer time safely.
Melatonin can help only in certain types of sleep issues. You may be able to sleep quicker and longer with melatonin if you have jet lag or DSWPD. The sleep hormone can also help shift workers improve their routine and functionality. Children who suffer from sleep problems due to ADHD, ASD, or autism can benefit from taking melatonin supplements. You can take it for the short term if you qualify for any of the conditions we discussed. However, always consult your doctor before starting any dietary supplement.
Can I take melatonin every night?
You can melatonin every night for a few days or months. Do not take melatonin for longer periods without talking to a medical professional. It lacks enough research to conclude on long-term safety.
Does melatonin have any negative effects?
Melatonin may cause side effects in some people that include dizziness, feeling sleepy during the day, symptoms of depression, and stomach cramps. Stop your melatonin supplement at once and talk to a doctor if you experience any side effects.
How long does melatonin take to work?
Melatonin takes a minimum of 30 minutes to show its effects. You should take your melatonin supplement at least 30 – 60 minutes before sleeping for the best results.
How much melatonin can I take for sleep?
You can take up to 3mg of melatonin for sleeping. However, consult your physician for safe dosage.
Can melatonin cause weight gain?
Melatonin supplements should not make you gain weight. People with obesity generally have irregular production of melatonin. So, supplements should not impact your weight.
Does melatonin help with anxiety?
Melatonin is proven to reduce anxiety before surgery, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). However, it is not clear if melatonin is beneficial for other types of anxiety.
How long should you take melatonin?
You can take melatonin safely for up to 2 months. However, it has also been used for 2 years in the long term. Always consult your doctor for the best advice.