Melatonin Side Effects
Research has shown that sleep disorders plague about 20% of individuals. Those sleep disorders can range anywhere from a simple hormonal problem to more serious conditions such as narcolepsy and insomnia. Most people that have a sleeping disorder tend to turn to prescribed medications or over the counter sleeping aids to help them achieve a peaceful night’s sleep. However, a lot of times, those prescriptions and medications can cause harmful side effects as well as addictions if taken long term. There are some individuals who choose a more natural supplement to aid them in their sleep disabilities. This natural supplement is known as Melatonin.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally found in your body. It is created in your brain, more specifically your pineal gland, by an amino acid called tryptophan. Its main purpose is to help regulate your sleep cycles and is done so by working in conjunction with a cluster of nerves in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or the SCN. Basically, how it works is Melatonin production is dependent upon the SCN sending signals to your pineal gland instructing it on whether or not it needs to create Melatonin. The amount of Melatonin produced is dependent upon external forces, mainly light and darkness. For example, as the sun comes up your SCN signals to your brain that it is time to start waking up and the production of Melatonin decreases dramatically. The reverse happens when it starts getting darker which prepares your body for sleep. Sometimes though, the body can’t produce enough Melatonin on its own, making a need for outside sources in order to get a good nights rest.
Side Effects of Prescription and Over the Counter Sleep Medications
It’s for that very reason why many people will turn to prescriptions or other sleep aids for help. Unfortunately though, as stated earlier, a lot of times these prescriptions or chemically manufactured sleep aids can pose a lot of risks and side effects. For example, there are certain over the counter sleep aids that can cause constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nervousness or anxiety, upset stomach, vomiting, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, and ironically enough, difficulty sleeping. The list could go on for side effects these drugs can cause, and while they happen in rare occasions, they are possible.
Is Melatonin More Safe Than Prescription Sleep Medications?
Melatonin, however, only has a handful of shown side effects such as: dizziness, daytime drowsiness, and headache, confusion, vivid dreams, and a temporary reduction in attention and balance. While research is still being conducted on the side effects that Melatonin could cause, it could be considered a far safer bet than those other medications and sleep aids that contain chemicals that can cause many different risks and more harmful side effects. Plus, the fact that Melatonin is something your body already produces naturally, it dramatically decreases the potential of it harming you to a virtually zero percent chance.
With that being said, you do want to take caution in the amounts of Melatonin you are using. While, it is a virtually safe supplement, too much of it is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, some researchers say that while most supplements will give you about 3 to 5 milligrams, your body may actually only need about 0.1 to 0.5 milligrams. It also would be wise if you plan on using Melatonin alongside your current medications to consult your doctor. While risks in Melatonin are low, it is always good to make sure problems won’t arise from mixing it with medication. Also, if you are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant you should consult a doctor before using because of the lack of research provided on the effects of Melatonin and pregnancy.
Melatonin is a widely used supplement for assisting in sleep disorders as well as other health issues, and it is only continuing to grow in popularity. It is a safe and natural way to help an individual achieve a good nights rest without having to worry about harmful chemicals or potentially fatal side effects. While it still does pose minimal risks and side effects, it is one the safest and purest ways to help your body back into a regular sleep cycle providing you with sleep-full bliss.