A Good Night Sleep
Melatonin has widely been studied over multiple decades. It has many amazing benefits, one being that of a sleep aid helping people get the much needed sleep their bodies need for optimal health. However, much of research hasn’t looked at taking high dosages and the consequences to health. Here we look at the benefits as well as the reported side effects.
A Quick Review on How Melatonin Works
A small gland found deep in the brain called the pineal gland releases the hormone melatonin from the tryptophan amino acid into the bloodstream which then triggers sleep. Melatonin, also known as the Dracula Hormone, controls our sleep and waking cycles, acting as a natural clock inside the body. The secretion of this neuro-hormone varies throughout the day, but its natural peak of release happens at night, wherein 5 to 25 micrograms are secreted. This is the reason why we feel sleepy when the sun goes down, and later into the night. When the supplement melatonin is taken, we feel our muscles relax, our temperature drop and we get droooowsy.
Melatonin as a supplement is commercially available over-the-counter to help with sleep problems such as insomnia and help reduce the effects of sleepless nights, improve concentration problems and prevent memory lapses. Aside from treating sleep disorders, melatonin has other amazing benefits such as it’s antioxidant properties!
So How Much Should You Take?
The standard dosage for melatonin has not yet been set or empirically proven. According to research the recommended dosage of melatonin supplementation differs across age groups and health conditions. For instance, it can be consumed from 0.3 milligrams to 10 milligrams to normalize sleep, while those who experiencing sleep disturbances may take 0.1 to .80 milligrams. Patients with insomnia may take 1 to 5 grams of melatonin once a night for two months.
Short-term intake of melatonin can still be considered safe. Doses of melatonin from 1 to 20 milligrams, taken for three months are still considered safe by the Mayo Clinic. However, since melatonin supplements are not regulated by US Food and Drug Administration, product safety and study may have not been well-documented and effects may vary from one person to another. Therefore, it’s necessary to consult a professional healthcare provider especially when experiencing side effects. It’s also important to note that these supplements should not be used as a substitute to prescription medications.
What Happen If I Take Too Much?
Yes, you can od on melatonin. Meaning that you can take more than the recommended amount. Taking much more than the advisable and necessary dosage may lead to a number of unpleasant or serious side effects, such as unusual sleeping behaviors, changes in hormonal structure, and drowsiness during the day.
If melatonin supplement is taken during the day it may confuse our body’s internal clock. This can throw off our sleep patterns and actually prevent getting the reparative rest we need. This is especially harmful for people working day jobs that require critical attention. Additionally, bizarre dreams and sleeping patterns may occur. Paranoia, altered perception and hallucinations may also be experienced upon an od of melatonin.
Headache, stomach problems, and even elevated blood pressure may also arise from melatonin overdose. Taking too much may lead to irritation of the digestive tract. Mild to severe headaches may be experienced as well as other symptoms such as vomiting and nausea. Blood sugar and blood pressure may also be affected.
Changes in hormone structure can be very dangerous for pregnant women as it can disrupt fetal development. Nursing infants from lactating mothers may be passed elevated levels of melatonin. Hormonal changes, brought about by overdose can affect men’s sperm count and women’s ovulation, and can even reduce labido.
Sleep disorders are a major issue plaguing society. What some of us would do for a good nights rest. Melatonin can play a vital role in helping us balance our sleeping patterns and get that much needed, healing and repairing sleep our bodies need to stay in optimal health.
With that said more studies need to be done to determine the adverse effects that come with taking higher dosages. Given the lack of evidence we should use the utmost caution when using the supplement. And use should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.