Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. When it is dark, the brain makes melatonin to tell the body that it is time to get ready to sleep.
A variety of factors, including some sleep disorders, working night shifts, and jet lag, can all influence how much melatonin the body makes. There is some evidence that melatonin supplements can help some people sleep better.
Keep reading to learn more about melatonin supplements and how they might help people sleep. We also look at five melatonin supplement products that people can purchase.
Melatonin is a hormone that doctors sometimes call the sleep hormone. The brain makes melatonin in response to darkness and stops making it under exposure to light.
This hormone regulates the body’s internal clock, or its circadian rhythms. Melatonin enters the bloodstream and sends a signal to all the bodily processes that it is time to get ready to sleep.
Many factors can influence how the body produces melatonin. Sleep disorders, working at night, and jet lag are all examples. Furthermore, as people get older, they start to produce less melatonin.
Melatonin supplements work by boosting the levels of this hormone. Their production usually takes place in a lab.
According to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), melatonin supplements might help some people with jet lag, anxiety before or after surgery, or delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD) to sleep better.
They may also be useful for children with sleep problems relating to long-term health conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Some people say that the supplements help, but it is important to note that scientists are not yet sure whether they are effective. More research is necessary to confirm whether such products are safe in the long term.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate supplements less strictly than prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Lots of different melatonin supplements are available to buy online and in drugstores.
Some of the top selling products in the United States are:
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin
This chewable, berry flavored supplement is suitable for children over the age of 3 years. Each gummy contains 1 milligram (mg) of melatonin.
Other ingredients include sugar, natural flavors, xylitol, natural color, stearic acid, citric acid, silicon dioxide, oligofructose, fructose, and vegetable protein isolate. Children should take 1–3 supplements, depending on their age, about 30–60 minutes before bedtime.
These supplements are for occasional rather than regular use.
Natrol Melatonin supplements contain 10 mg of the hormone. They are strawberry flavored, 100% vegetarian, and dissolve quickly on the tongue with no water. The manufacturers recommend that people only use them occasionally.
The other ingredients are dextrose, microcrystalline cellulose, cellulose gum, crospovidone, maltodextrin, glyceryl behenate, sucrose esters of fatty acids, gum arabic, beetroot extract, silicone dioxide, artificial flavor, sucralose, and menthol.
Puritan’s Pride Super Strength Melatonin Nighttime Sleep Aid 10 mg
These supplements also contain 10 mg of melatonin and are gluten-free. Other ingredients include rice flour and gelatin, as well as small amounts of silica and vegetable magnesium stearate.
Puritan’s website says that people can use the supplements for occasional sleeplessness.
Valimenta Liposomal Sleep Formula
This product is a liquid that contains a blend of melatonin, the antioxidant glutamine, and liposomal GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a role in relaxing the nervous system. The liquid is vegan and free of alcohol and genetically modified organisms (GMO).
Other ingredients include purified water, lipids from sunflower lecithin, glycerin, natural flavors, stevia, and potassium sorbate.
The blackberry flavored OLLY Sleep gummies also contain chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm extracts, as well as L-theanine, an amino acid that may help with relaxation. The label advises people to take two gummies about 30 minutes before going to bed.
Other ingredients include glucose syrup, beet sugar, water, gelatin, natural flavors, critic acid, coloring from carrot and blueberry juice, pectin, vegetable oil, and carnauba wax.
The NCCIH have said that scientists do not have enough information to determine whether melatonin supplements cause long-term side effects.
They note that in some people, high doses of the supplements can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness. Older people are more likely to feel drowsy during the day after taking melatonin than younger people. Children may sometimes wet the bed or feel agitated.
It is also important to note that melatonin supplements can interact with other medications, particularly blood thinners and epilepsy drugs.
People who should avoid using melatonin supplements altogether include:
- pregnant women
- women who are breastfeeding
- people with dementia
Anyone considering using a melatonin supplement should speak to a doctor first.
The best thing that people can do to improve their sleep is to take a look at their lifestyle and nighttime habits.
Some top tips for better sleep include:
- napping for no more than 30 minutes during the day
- exercising or doing other physical activity every day
- avoiding caffeine and nicotine in the evening
- refraining from eating spicy, fatty, rich, or fried foods before bed
- spending time in the sunlight during the day, particularly in the morning
- establishing a relaxing bedtime routine
People can also try making their nighttime environment more conducive to sleep. They can do this by keeping the bedroom cool, removing bright lights and noisy devices, and using earplugs or an eyeshade at night.
Melatonin is a hormone that the brain makes to prepare the body to go to sleep. Many factors can influence melatonin production, including jet lag, working night shifts, sleep disorders, and getting older.
Many people use melatonin supplements to help them get to sleep. While there is some evidence to suggest that these supplements work, scientists are not yet sure that they are effective.
Experts are also uncertain about the right dose of melatonin to take and whether there are any long-term side effects.
Anyone who wishes to try a melatonin supplement should speak to a doctor or healthcare professional first.