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What Is Melatonin

What Is Melatonin, And Do Melatonin Sleep Aids Work?

You may not have ever heard of melatonin before. In fact, many people don’t know it exists at all. But melatonin is a small molecule that has been used since the mid-1900s as an aid to help treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Recently, several professionals have recommended it as a way to promote more restful sleep for those individuals who struggle with insomnia or difficulty falling asleep at night. In this blog post, we will be going more in-depth about what melatonin is, how effective it is as a sleep aid, and the precautions and warnings that should be adhered to.

What Is Melatonin?

A hormone that the body produces is melatonin. It controls the cycles of night and day or sleep and wakefulness. Supplemental melatonin is often created in a lab. The body produces more melatonin when it is dark, which instructs the brain to go to sleep. Melatonin synthesis is reduced, and the body is awakened by light. Melatonin levels can be low in those who struggle to fall asleep. Melatonin supplementation is believed to aid in improving their ability to fall asleep. Melatonin is most frequently used to treat insomnia and to promote restful sleep under various circumstances, including jet lag. Additionally, it is used to treat dementia, chronic pain, depression, and numerous other illnesses, but the majority of these applications lack strong scientific backing. Below, we are going to look at the different possible uses.

Different Possible Uses Of Melatonin

  • Insomnia: Short-term oral melatonin administration appears to reduce the amount of time it takes for persons with insomnia to fall asleep, albeit only by 7 to 12 minutes. It’s unclear whether it has an impact on how much time people spend sleeping. Additionally, it appears to be more beneficial for elderly people and people with specific health diseases.
  • Jet lag: Melatonin can help with some jet lag symptoms, such as increasing alertness and lowering daytime sleepiness and fatigue. However, it might not make falling asleep faster for those who have jet lag.
  • Sleep disturbance caused by some blood pressure medicine (beta blocker-induced insomnia): Melatonin oral supplementation may improve sleep quality in beta-blocker drug users.
  • A painful uterine disorder (endometriosis): Melatonin supplement appears to lessen discomfort and painkiller use in people with this illness. Additionally, it lessens discomfort during menstruation, sexual activity, and bathroom trips.
  • High blood pressure: Melatonin in its controlled-release oral form appears to lower blood pressure in those with high blood pressure when taken before bed. Products with an immediate release don’t seem to work.
  • Migraine: Both adults and children can avoid migraines by taking melatonin before bed. Whether melatonin aids in the treatment of migraines is unclear.
  • Cancer: Along with chemotherapy or other cancer therapies, receiving high doses of melatonin intravenously or orally from a healthcare professional may shrink tumors and increase survival rates in some cancer patients.
  • Confusion and agitation after surgery: Melatonin taken orally before anesthesia may help reduce anxiety and agitation in children getting the anesthetic sevoflurane during surgery.
  • Anxiety before a procedure: Adults’ anxiety before surgery can be somewhat reduced by taking melatonin orally or topically. It’s unclear whether it benefits kids.
  • Sedation before a procedure: Melatonin used orally may lessen the amount of sedatives required for several pediatric medical procedures.
  • Sunburn: Melatonin gel applied to the skin prior to exposure to the sun appears to help avoid sunburn.
  • Painful conditions that affect the jaw muscle and joint (temporomandibular disorders or TMD): Females with jaw pain can have pain relief after four weeks of taking melatonin orally at bedtime.

Melatonin As A Sleep Aid

The body receives a signal from natural melatonin when it is time to sleep. The effectiveness of melatonin supplements in addressing sleep issues varies. According to a meta-analysis of research published in 2013, melatonin is more effective than a placebo at extending sleep time, speeding up the process of falling asleep, and improving sleep quality.

Melatonin has fewer negative effects than other medications, but it is not as effective as certain sleep aids. Melatonin showed promise for reducing jet lag-related shifts in sleep and wake periods as well as for enhancing sleep in persons with insomnia in another evaluation of research from 2014. Less was known about the supplement’s advantages for healthy individuals and shift workers.

In order to encourage the use of melatonin supplementation for persistent insomnia, the American College of Physicians (2016) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2017) both released practice recommendations in 2017. As the first line of treatment for insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is strongly advised by the American College of Physicians.

2 mg slow-release (or prolonged-release) tablets will be recommended by your doctor. Over the course of the night, they gradually release melatonin into your bloodstream. It’s crucial to properly follow the directions. Not every night, but only two or three times a week, your doctor might advise you to take melatonin. Melatonin is often taken for only a few weeks to aid with transient sleep issues (insomnia). One 2mg tablet is often the recommended dosage for adult sleep issues. One to two hours before going to bed, take the tablet. This is due to the fact that it takes the medication a few hours to start working. Melatonin should be taken after a meal, whole. It should also be noted that you should not chew it or smash it.

Does Melatonin Sleep Aid Work?

Melatonin may or may not be very effective for you because everyone responds to medications and supplements differently. According to some research, it may help with jet lag and some sleep disorders in children as well as others, including shift work disorder and delayed sleep phase disorder.

According to additional studies, it might help patients with insomnia sleep a little bit more quickly. You might also sleep better through the night, albeit perhaps not for as long. More research has revealed that melatonin does nothing to improve sleep issues. Additionally, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that it solves problems unrelated to sleep.

Precautions And Warnings When Taking Melatonin

While taking melatonin has a wide range of benefits, certain precautions should be adhered to by some class of people or during some period in one’s life.

  • Children: Melatonin may be secure when consumed orally and used temporarily. When administered in levels up to 3 mg per day for children and 5 mg per day for teenagers, melatonin is typically well-tolerated. Melatonin’s potential to obstruct adolescent development has raised some questions. Only kids with medical needs should take melatonin. The safety of long-term oral melatonin administration to children is unknown due to a lack of sufficient data.
  • Pregnancy: Melatonin may be harmful if consumed frequently or in large doses when attempting to conceive. Melatonin might have contraceptive-like effects that make getting pregnant more challenging. Melatonin use during pregnancy isn’t known to be safe due to a lack of sufficient, trustworthy information. It is advisable to avoid using melatonin when pregnant or trying to get pregnant until additional information is available.
  • Breast-feeding: Melatonin use during breastfeeding is not known to be safe due to a lack of sufficient, trustworthy data. Avoid using to be on the safe side.
  • Depression: Depression symptoms may worsen when melatonin is used.
  • High blood pressure: Melatonin can cause blood pressure to rise in patients who are using specific blood pressure-lowering drugs. Don’t use it.
  • Bleeding disorders: In patients with bleeding issues, melatonin might exacerbate bleeding.
  • Seizure disorders: Melatonin use could make you more likely to get seizures.
  • Transplant recipients: It’s common practice for transplant recipients to take immunosuppressive drugs. Melatonin may improve immunological performance. Some transplant drugs’ effects may be affected by this.


Numerous factors, including high levels of stress, demanding work schedules, and sleep disorders, might contribute to sleep issues. Many individuals are unaware of the facts of melatonin as a sleep aid, such as the fact that it doesn’t make you drowsy. This means that rather than trying to force you to fall asleep, melatonin for sleep works to encourage healthy sleep patterns and help the body’s internal clock. Despite this, there is some proof that melatonin supplements may help some people with their insomnia, particularly those who experience sleep-wake cycle disruptions.

Melatonin appears to be more effective at causing sleep in individuals who are already exhausted than at alleviating insomnia. Additionally, depending on how long you’ve been taking it and what dosage you’re on, the results might vary greatly. Melatonin just isn’t useful for persons with persistent sleep issues unless further steps are taken to address the underlying reasons for their sleep issues. It’s usually better to speak with a doctor before consistently utilizing melatonin, as with any supplement.


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Ferracioli-Oda E, Qawasmi A, Bloch MH (2013) Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63773.

Melatonin: What You Need To Know | NCCIH.

Qaseem A, Kansagara D, Forciea MA, et al. Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2016;165(2):125-133.

Sateia MJ, Buysse DJ, Krystal AD, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the pharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia in adults: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2017;13(2):307-349.