Be careful when using melatonin as a sleep aid

Adam’s Diary

Melatonin seems to be more popular than ever. Does it work? Is it safe to use?

Adam Cohen

Adam Cohen

Prescribed by Dr. McEver

Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical that our brain produces in response to darkness. It helps adjust our internal clock and induces drowsiness.

The synthetic version is sold as a dietary supplement. Studies show that these supplements can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, but their effects on sleep quality and total sleep time are unclear.

more: Are Sleep Aids Safe?

Unlike sleep aids such as benedryl, melatonin does not immediately cause drowsiness. Instead, let the body know that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Whether you work and how long it takes will vary from person to person.

Rodger McEver, MD, Vice President of Research, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Rodger McEver, MD, Vice President of Research, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Short-term use of melatonin appears to be safe for most adults, but there is little information about the risks of high-dose and long-term use. Buyers should also be aware that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements as strictly as prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

In a 2017 study of more than 30 melatonin supplements, researchers found that in most samples, the amount of melatonin on the label did not match the amount contained in the product.Over 25% of supplements also contained serotonin, a hormone that can be harmful even in small doses.

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If you choose to use melatonin supplements, look for the “USP Validated” mark in the United States Pharmacopeia Convention. This means that the supplement contains the ingredients listed on the label in the declared potency and amount.

Most of us produce enough melatonin to sleep on our own. To get the most out of your natural melatonin production, dim the lights a few hours before bedtime to limit screen use. The blue light emitted by smartphones and TVs suppresses the release of natural melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Physician-Scientist McEver is Vice President of Research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Cohen is a marathoner, senior vice president and legal advisor to OMRF.Submit your health questions for them to [email protected]

This article was originally published in The Oklahoman: Short-term use of melatonin appears to be almost safe, but questions remain.