What exactly is melatonin and how does it function?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain in response to darkness. It aids in the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) as well as your sleep. Light exposure at night can inhibit melatonin production.

Melatonin appears to play other important roles in the body besides sleep, according to research. These effects, however, are not fully understood.

Melatonin dietary supplements can be derived from animals or microorganisms, but they are most commonly synthesised. The following information is about melatonin dietary supplements.

What are the health advantages of melatonin?

Melatonin supplements may be beneficial for a variety of conditions, including jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, some sleep disorders in children, and anxiety before and after surgery.

  • Jet lag
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase syndrome (DSWPD)
  • Some children’s sleep disorders
  • Anxiety prior to and following surgery

Is melatonin useful in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19?

The current research into the effects of melatonin on COVID-19 is in its early stages. A few randomised controlled trials (studies evaluating melatonin in humans) are currently underway. It is too early to conclude whether melatonin is beneficial for COVID-19 at this time.

Melatonin, does it help with cancer symptoms?

Small studies on the effect of melatonin supplements on cancer symptoms or treatment-related side effects have yielded conflicting results.

Keep in mind that unproven products should not be used to replace or postpone conventional cancer treatment. Furthermore, some products may interfere with standard cancer treatments or pose additional risks to cancer patients.

People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult with their health care providers before using any complementary health approach, including melatonin, to ensure that all aspects of their care work together.

Melatonin can it help with insomnia?

Insomniacs have difficulty falling or staying asleep, or both. Chronic insomnia occurs when symptoms last for a month or longer.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s (2017) and American College of Physicians’ (2016) practise guidelines, there is insufficient strong evidence to recommend melatonin supplementation for chronic insomnia.

The guidelines of the American College of Physicians strongly recommend cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as an initial treatment for insomnia.

Does melatonin help shift workers?

Night shift work may cause people to feel sleepy at work and make it difficult to sleep during the day after a shift ends.

Two 2014 research reviews concluded that studies on whether melatonin supplements help shift workers were generally small or inconclusive.

The first review examined seven studies with a total of 263 participants. According to the findings, (1) people who take melatonin may sleep about 24 minutes longer during the day, but (2) other aspects of sleep, such as time needed to fall asleep, may not change.

However, the evidence was deemed to be of poor quality.
The other review examined eight studies (five of which were included in the first review) with a total of 300 participants to determine whether melatonin promoted sleep in shift workers.

Six of the studies were of high quality, but the results were inconclusive. The review made no recommendations for the use of melatonin in shift workers.

Is melatonin safe to take?

There is not enough information about potential side effects of melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, to provide a clear picture of overall safety.

Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but long-term safety data on melatonin supplementation is lacking.

Remember to also:

Medication interactions

People who are taking medication, as with all dietary supplements, should consult their health care providers before using melatonin. People with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications, in particular, should use melatonin supplements under medical supervision.
Risk of allergic reaction

Melatonin supplements may cause allergic reactions in some people.
Concerns about pregnant and breastfeeding women’s safety

  1. There has been little research on the safety of using melatonin while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. Concerns for the safety of the elderly
  3. Melatonin is not recommended for people with dementia, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s 2015 guidelines.
  4. Melatonin may be more active in older people than in younger people, causing daytime drowsiness.
  5. Melatonin is a dietary supplement that is regulated.

Melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement in the United States. This means it is less strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than a prescription or over-the-counter drug. Melatonin is considered a drug in several other countries and is only available with a prescription.

Products may not contain all of the ingredients listed on the label.

Some melatonin supplements may not contain all of the ingredients listed on the label. A 2017 study put 31 different melatonin supplements from grocery stores and pharmacies to the test.

The amount of melatonin in most of the supplements did not match what was listed on the product label. Furthermore, 26% of the supplements contained serotonin, a hormone that can be harmful even at low levels.

Is it safe for children to take melatonin?

In addition to the issues raised above, there are some concerns about melatonin’s safety in children.

Parents who are considering giving melatonin to their children should first consult with a health care provider about melatonin use in children.

Melatonin supplements must be stored safely and used appropriately by parents.

Children and teenagers who use over-the-counter melatonin may be at risk of accidental or intentional overdose.

According to a 2022 study, melatonin sales in the United States increased by about 150 percent between 2016 and 2020. Melatonin is widely available in tablet, capsule, liquid, and gummy formulations.

According to the study’s authors, the increase in melatonin sales, availability, and widespread use in the United States has likely resulted in increased access to melatonin among children at home.

According to the 2022 study, the number of reports to U.S. poison control centres about people aged 19 and under who took melatonin increased from 8,337 in 2012 to 52,563 in 2021.

The number of reports increased year after year over the course of a decade. Hospitalizations and serious outcomes from melatonin use among people aged 19 and under have also increased over the last decade.

The majority of hospitalizations involved teenagers who had intentionally taken melatonin overdoses, with children 5 years and younger experiencing the greatest increase in hospitalizations.

Additional Information

Melatonin supplements in normal doses appear to be safe for most children to use in the short term, but there haven’t been many studies on children and melatonin. Furthermore, there is little data on the long-term effects of melatonin use in children.

Because melatonin is a hormone, it’s possible that melatonin supplements could influence hormonal development, such as puberty, menstrual cycles, and prolactin overproduction, but we don’t know for sure.

Melatonin supplement side effects in children have typically been mild, and have included:

  • Drowsiness
  • Increased nighttime urination or bedwetting Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation

What are the melatonin side effects?

A 2015 review of the safety of melatonin supplements found only mild side effects in several short-term studies involving adults, surgical patients, and critically ill patients. The following were some of the mild side effects reported in the studies:

Headache \sDizziness
Nausea \sSleepiness

Melatonin use may have long-term side effects that are unknown.

Consider These Suggestions

Even though the FDA regulates dietary supplements such as melatonin, the regulations are different and less stringent than those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Some dietary supplements may interact with medications or pose risks if you have medical conditions or are undergoing surgery.

If you are pregnant or nursing a child, you should consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplement, including melatonin.

If you take dietary supplements, such as melatonin, read and follow the directions on the label. Natural does not always imply safe. See Using Dietary Supplements for more information. Wisely.

Take charge of your health by discussing any complementary health approaches you use with your health care providers. You can make informed decisions as a group.