There’s a good chance you’ve heard of melatonin – a hormone produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. You may have also heard that taking melatonin can help you get to sleep and stay asleep all night. Is this true? And if it is, what’s the best way to take it?
Research on melatonin and sleep is mixed, but there seems to be some evidence that taking supplemental melatonin can help improve sleep quality in people with insomnia or other sleep disorders. One study found that people who took 3 mg of supplemental melatonin had improved subjective ratings of their overall quality of sleep, compared to those who took a placebo pill.
Another study found that supplementing with 0.5 mg or 1 mg of melatonin improved objective measures of sleep quality, such as how long it took participants to fall asleep and how many times they woke up during the night.
The dose used in these studies was relatively low – between 0.5 mg and 3 mg – so higher doses may be more effective. However, it’s important to note that not everyone responds well to melatonin supplement sand some people even report feeling sleepy after taking them . If you decide to try supplementation, start with a low dose (0.5-1mg)and increase gradually as needed .
Although research on the use of melatonin is inconclusive, there does seem to be some evidence indicating that this hormone may help improve sleep quality in certain cases. If you are struggling with insomnia or another sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about whether supplementation with melatonin is right for you. Start with a low dose.
Melatonin for children
In children, melatonin is usually used to help with difficulties getting to or staying asleep. Another concern with using melatonin in children is that its effects on the body extend beyond sleep. For some children who need assistance falling asleep, melatonin has become a common recommended supplement.
If your teen is struggling to sleep at night or is not getting enough sleep, taking melatonin supplements is one possible short-term strategy for helping him get quality sleep. Long-term use of melatonin supplements as sleep aids has not been studied extensively in children. Because of a lack of scientific evidence, as well as a few potentially harmful side effects, melatonin is not recommended as a sleep aid for children and adolescents. Preliminary studies also suggest that melatonin can help children who are susceptible to sleep disorders.
Some studies show that melatonin can even help children who have ADHD or autism, who have trouble sleeping, if used over short periods of time. It also can help some older children and teens reboot their sleep routines – for example, after a holiday, summer break, or other disruption. Melatonin can help some kids fall asleep faster if used correctly, and comes in gummy varieties that can appeal to kids, but you should not give it out as candy.
Because studies of the use of melatonin supplements in children are limited, experts advise talking with a health care professional before giving melatonin to a child. If you have tried to establish a healthier bedtime routine, but your baby is still struggling to get to sleep, you may want to ask your babys pediatrician whether melatonin supplements are a good fit for your baby. For children who are not otherwise diagnosed with insomnia and who are practicing good sleep hygiene, using melatonin should be considered.
For children with delayed sleep phase syndrome, melatonin may be a helpful treatment along with an assessment of insomnia and periodic monitoring. For most children with sleep problems, a specific cause must be identified and treated before considering melatonin as an option. For treating sleep problems, children are generally best treated by taking melatonin between 30-60 minutes before they go to bed. A health care provider can provide advice about whether children who are having trouble sleeping might benefit from taking melatonin, as well as other treatment options.
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