Even though melatonin is an over-the-counter medicine, not enough is known about it for people to be consuming it so comfortably.
Sleep disorders are incredibly common, affecting about 70 million Americans a year. Medications and other substances that treat sleep are increasingly common, although with some concerning side effects that might impact sleep in the long term.
One of the most harmless solutions to this is melatonin, a compound that’s been growing in popularity over the years. Still, when used at high levels, it has a certain amount of risks.
According to a new study, melatonin use has increased over the past few years, increasing by more than twice the amount consumed a decade ago.
The study, published in JAMA Network, argues that even though melatonin is an over-the-counter medicine, not enough is known about it for people to be consuming it so comfortably. Despite the fact that people view it as a natural herb, the reality is that melatonin is a hormone. The consumption of it is so widespread that companies advertising it as a sleep aid vary wildly in the amount of melatonin per gram, at times providing more than the standard 5mg a day dosage that’s recommended for providing quick relief in sleep problems.
According to the NIH, melatonin has been linked with headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritability, anxiety and depression, and is capable of interacting with other medications. “We cannot be certain of the purity of melatonin that is available over the counter,” sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins told CNN.
While it appears that in the short term melatonin provides useful benefits, its long-term use is much more complex than a harmless pill that can put you to bed.
Melatonin is helpful depending on the person taking it. While it may work for some, it might not for others, and should always be monitored, from the amount of it you consume to frequency, to the brand you’re using. In regards to pregnant women and children, it’s important to visit a doctor first, who can provide you with a more informed opinion than what you can find online.