Quiz: Is Taking Melatonin Every Night Harmful?

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, a pea-sized gland located in the brain, that plays a role in sleep and circadian rhythms.

The body naturally produces more melatonin at night which helps people fall asleep, and lower levels in the morning when people wake up and are exposed to light. Melatonin levels decline as people age.

A vitamin A mineral A hormone A probiotic

What is melatonin used for?

Melatonin supplements are usually marketed as a sleep aid without the side effects that can accompany prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. Melatonin is used for:

  • Insomnia
  • Jet lag
  • Shift work disorder
  • Sleep-wake cycle disturbances
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase sleep disorder
  • Anxiety before and after surgery
Insomnia Jet lag Circadian rhythm disorders All of the above

What is the recommended dose of melatonin for adults?

Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription and common doses range from 0.1 to 10 milligrams, though 0.5 to 5 milligrams are usually considered safe for typical use in healthy adults. Two to three milligrams are usually considered an appropriate initial dose.

Melatonin dosage is not one-size-fits all. Dosing and response can vary based on a person's age, gender, the time the supplement is taken, a person's sleep problems, and other underlying health issues.

0.1 to 0.4 milligrams 0.5 to 5 milligrams 6 to 10 milligrams 11 to 15 milligrams

How long can you take melatonin supplements?

Melatonin can be used safely by most adults for occasional insomnia, but it should not be taken indefinitely. If taking melatonin seems to help, it may be taken every night for up to one to two months.

A few days to a week One to two months About six months As long as you choose

True or false: Melatonin is safe for use by children.

More research is needed on the effects of melatonin in children. Children may be more susceptible to the effects of melatonin on reproductive hormones. While research is conflicting, some studies have shown melatonin to be associated with delays in puberty, irregular menstruation, and overproduction of the hormone prolactin. Melatonin can also decrease blood pressure or blood glucose levels.

Consult your child's pediatrician before giving them melatonin.

True False

What are side effects of melatonin?

Just because melatonin supplements are marketed as "natural" sleep aids, it does not mean they do not cause any side effects. Side effects of over-the-counter melatonin supplements are uncommon and may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Fragmented sleep
Sleepiness Blurred vision Dry mouth Constipation

Is it possible to take too much melatonin?

With melatonin, less is often better, and excess melatonin can be harmful. Symptoms of excess melatonin may include:

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Vomiting
  • Worsening of alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss)
  • May cause depression in people who have depression or who are predisposed to it
  • Increased seizures in patients with epilepsy
Yes No

What are risks of taking melatonin?

Melatonin supplements are generally safe for use as directed but there can be some risks to taking it, such as:

  • Drug interactions
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Blood thinners
    • Seizure medications
  • Allergic reactions
  • Not known if melatonin is safe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
  • May cause daytime drowsiness, especially in older people
  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends against melatonin use by people with dementia
  • Can affect reproductive hormones if taken long-term
  • Melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement in the U.S. and not a drug, so it is less strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means:
    • Melatonin products may not contain what's listed on the label
    • There can be a wide variety in the ingredients, dose, preparation, and purity of melatonin supplements which may result in a significantly different impact on the body, even for the same dosage
    • Look for the United States Pharmacopeial Convention Verified labels to find reliable formulations

    There are possible drug interactions Products may not contain what's listed on the label It may affect reproductive hormones All of the above

    Who should not use melatonin?

    Melatonin is not appropriate for use by everyone. People who should not use melatonin include those who:

    • Have an autoimmune disorder
    • Have a seizure disorder
    • Have clinical depression
    • Have diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Take certain hypertension medications
    People who have kidney disease People who have blood disorders People who are pregnant or breastfeeding People who are taking antihistamines

    Sources: Sources

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