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Melatonin Supplements | What Are They And Should You Take Them?

What Are Melatonin Pills?

Melatonin pills utilize the hormone, melatonin, which is made in the pineal gland in your brain. It is also found in certain foods, including meats, fruits, vegetables and grains. Melatonin does form naturally in the body, however, is also created synthetically so that it may be taken medicinally as a supplement and absorbed directly into your system for sleep-related problems.

What Do Melatonin Pills Do?

In pill form, melatonin supplements are used for your natural body clock, which in certain circumstances may simply be trouble sleeping. This can be to help adjust a person’s sleeping pattern when it has been upset by jet lag or constantly changing work shift routines.

Blind people, unable to gauge the cycles of day and night benefit from melatonin’s ability to establish a rhythm.

It may be prescribed for sleep deprivation, including insomnia, along with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) and rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD). In other cases, melatonin pills are used to help with sleep deprivation caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and developmental disorders including autism and cerebral palsy.

Other uses include for people suffering Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, cancer and anaesthesia.

Melatonin pills are commonly prescribed as a dietary supplement in the darker days of winter months when the shorter days throw the body and mind out of sync. It is also given to people who have come out of surgery to help regulate their sleep pattern again after going under anaesthetic.

How Do Melatonin Pills Work?

Melatonin pills are absorbed through your cheek or under your tongue. It may also be applied to your skin for protection from the sun and injected into muscles as a part of cancer treatment.

Melatonin is produced by your body in darkness as you prepare to sleep. The production of melatonin decreases in the light as your body prepares to wake. People who suffer from some of the aforementioned sleep conditions likely produce less melatonin as a result. This is where supplements can help to create the urge to sleep.


Do Melatonin Pills Work?

Sleep is essential for recovery and growth, especially when you regularly exercise or are trying to develop muscle mass. Melatonin is proven to help induce sleep, so to a degree, yes, they do work. But they do not provide the guarantee of a full night’s healthy rest. If, for example, you’re exhausted from a long night’s work or a flight has left you jet lagged and you’ve been awake far too long but are struggling to get to sleep because your usual bedtime is hours behind or ahead, then melatonin pills can help to get you to sleep.

It is not, however, a sleeping pill as such. It will not put you under if you’re walking around in good health and already well rested and keep you down for eight hours until you rise again.

How Many Melatonin Pills Can I Take?

For anyone thinking about taking melatonin pills due to trouble sleeping, a small dose of 0.3 to 5mg is recommended on a daily basis for up to nine months, but the lower end of that spectrum – around the 0.5mg – has been proven more than efficient in the majority of cases. Where sleep-wake cycles are concerned, 2mg to 12 mg may be taken before sleeping for up to a 4 week period, which may better suit people suffering jet lag and a sudden but shorter period of change in their sleeping pattern.

It is highly recommended that you speak to a medical professional before taking melatonin. Sleep troubles can be caused by many things, from mental health problems to diet and exercise. In longer-term cases of sleep deprivation, other natural remedies including changes to your lifestyle and fitness regimen may be recommended at first.

Are Melatonin Supplements safe?

Melatonin pills are generally considered safe in lower doses, though children and pregnant women are not advised to take them.

There is no evidence to suggest that melatonin pills can cause serious or fatal injuries, but as with all hormones, it can have a considerable detrimental effect on your health.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin Pills?

Some of the side effects of melatonin include general tiredness and drowsiness, meaning that you should avoid driving or operating machinery. You may experience changes in your blood pressure, feel faint and have a lower body temperature. In some cases people experience vivid dreams when they sleep and wake feeling groggy like they have slept too heavily for too long, leaving them feeling lethargic.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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