ITS ALWAYS BEEN AN ISSUE. DONITA HAS STRUGGLED WITH SLEEP AS LONG AS SHE CAN REMEMBER. IVE HAD SUCH A UNSTEADY SCHEDULE. YOU NEVER REALLY FEEL FULLY RESTED AND YOU START TO GAIN WEIGHT. YOU START TO DEVELOP ALL KINDS OF ISSUES. FOR ITS NOT JUST AN AGGRAVATION. SLEEP ISSUES ARE HER JOB AND SHES SEEN PLENTY OF THEM WHILE WORKING AT THE SLEEP CLINIC AT MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL. I THINK THE PANDEMIC KIND OF MESSED EVERYBODYS SCHEDULE UP A LITTLE BIT. EVERYBODYS THROWN OFF, YOUR BODIES ARE THROWN OFF AND NOT JUST THE PANDEMIC. A STUDY LAST YEAR SHOWED SALES OF MELATONIN SHOT UP. 150% BETWEEN 2016 AND 2020, ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. MOST RESEARCH ON EXACTLY HOW EFFECTIVE MELATONIN CAN BE IS INCONCLUSIVE. BUT THAT HASNT STOPPED THE INCREASE IN USE AND INCREASED DOSAGES. FIVE, TEN MILLIGRAMS, 15MG. 20MG. THATS WAY TOO MUCH MELATONIN. DR. KENNETH SAUER IS A SLEEP SPECIALIST AT MDH. HE SAYS ONE MILLIGRAM WILL USUALLY DO THE TRICK, ALLOWING THE SUPPLEMENT TO WORK WITH THE MELATONIN. YOUR BRAIN IS ALREADY PRODUCING. BUT HE SAYS MOST PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY USING MELATONIN FOR THE WRONG REASONS. I THINK THE CONDITIONS WHERE ITS MOST EFFECTIVE ARE WHAT WE CALL SORT OF THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, THE SLEEP CLOCK ISSUE. IN OTHER WORDS, FOLKS WHO ARE TYPICALLY ARE NIGHT OWLS WHO DONT GO TO BED UNTIL MAYBE 2:00 OR 3:00 IN THE MORNING. THIS HELPS TO ADVANCE THE CLOCK. EARLIER, DR. SARSOUR SAYS MELATONIN IS NOT MEANT TO EASE ANXIETY OR TO BE TAKEN FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME TO DEAL WITH CHRONIC SLEEP ISSUES. WHEN IT STARTS GOING BECOME MORE PROTRACTED AND WHERE SLEEP BECOMES REALLY MORE DIFFICULT IN THE COURSE OF WEEKS TO MONTHS, THEN I WOULD THINK ID BRING IT UP TO THE PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN. AND HE SAYS ITS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER MELATONIN IS CONSIDERED A DIETARY SUPPLEMENT, WHICH MEANS ITS NOT REGULATED AS STRICTLY BY THE FDA. RESEARCHERS RECENTLY TESTED 25 SAMPLES OF MELATONIN GUMMIES AND FOUND ALL BUT THREE OF THEM WERENT ACCURATE, LABELED THEY CONTAINED ANYWHERE FROM 74% TO 347% MORE MELATONIN THAN WHAT WAS LISTED. AND IF YOURE TAKING OTHER MEDICATIONS, DR. SARSOUR SAYS THAT CAN BE DANGEROUS, ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE ON BLOOD THINNERS OR THOSE WITH EPILEPSY. AND PLUS, THERES A LOT OF MEDICATIONS THAT YOU CANT TAKE WITH MELATONIN, FOLKS WHO ARE TAKING BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATIONS. AND SOMETIMES THAT CAN ELEVATE THEIR BLOOD PRESSURE. SOME PEOPLE HAVE REPORTED REACTIONS TO HIGH DOSES OF MELATONIN, INCLUDING EXCESS, VIVID DREAMS OR EMOTIONS, RESPONSES LIKE DEPRESSION OR SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS. I HAD ONE PATIENT THAT HAS REALLY MOST WHAT WE CALL EMOTIONAL LABILITY, VERY SORT OF CRYING JAGS FOR PROLONGED PERIODS. AND ONCE SHE STOPPED IT, IT WENT AWAY FOR JANETTA MELATONIN HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE. BUT SHE SAYS EVEN THE OVER-THE-COUNTER SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD BE DISCUSSED WITH YOUR DOCTOR. ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU. EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT. YEAH, AND IF YOURE TAKING MELATONIN AND YOU HAVE KIDS IN THE HOUSE, REMEMBER, ITS NOT HARMLESS FOR THEM EITHER. LAST YEAR, A STUDY SHOWED OVER A TEN YEAR PERIOD, MORE THAN 4000 CHILDREN WERE HOSPITALIZED AFTER TAKING THE SUPPLEMENT, MOSTLY ACCIDENTAL. WELL, THAT NUMBER ABOUT HOW THERES BEEN INCORRECT AMOUNT OF MELATONIN, THREE AND A HALF TIMES IN SOME CASES.

Using melatonin for sleep is on the rise, study says, despite potential health harms

More and more adults are taking over-the-counter melatonin to get to sleep, and some may be using it at dangerously high levels, a study has found.The overall use among the U.S. adult population is still relatively low, but the study does document a significant many-fold increase in melatonin use in the past few years, said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School. She was not involved in the study.The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, found that by 2018 Americans were taking more than twice the amount of melatonin than a decade earlier.Melatonin has been linked to headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, irritability and mild anxiety, depression and tremors as well as abnormally low blood pressure. It can also interact with common medications and trigger allergies.While short-term use for people with jet lag, shift workers and those who have trouble falling asleep appears to be safe, long-term safety is unknown, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.In an associational study we found that older adults who reported frequent use every night or most nights of a sleep aid (over the counter or prescription) had a higher risk of incident dementia and early mortality, Robbins said.However, researchers could not determine which type of sleep aid over-the-counter medications, such as melatonin, or prescription medications was responsible for the findings.Melatonins side effectsSince 2006, a small but growing subset of adults are taking amounts of melatonin that far exceed the dosage of 5 milligrams a day typically used as a short-term treatment, the study found.However, pills for sale may contain levels of melatonin much higher than what is advertised on the label. Unlike drugs and food, melatonin is not fully regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so there are no federal requirements that companies test pills to ensure they contain the amount of advertised melatonin.Previous research has found that that melatonin content in these unregulated, commercially available melatonin supplements ranged from 83% to +478% of the labeled content, said Robbins, who coauthored the book Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep But are Too Tired to Ask.Nor are there any requirements that companies test their products for harmful hidden additives in melatonin supplements sold in stores and online. Previous studies also found 26% of the melatonin supplements contained serotonin, a hormone that can have harmful effects even at relatively low levels, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.We cannot be certain of the purity of melatonin that is available over the counter, Robbins said.Taking too much serotonin by combining medications such as antidepressants, migraine medications and melatonin can lead to a serious drug reaction. Mild symptoms include shivering and diarrhea, while a more severe reaction can lead to muscle rigidity, fever, seizures and even death if not treated.Is it bad to take melatonin every night?Because it is purchased over the counter, experts say many people view melatonin as an herbal supplement or vitamin. In reality, melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, located deep within the brain, and released into the bloodstream to regulate the bodys sleep cycles.There is a view that if its natural, then it cant hurt, Robbins told CNN in an earlier interview on the impact of melatonin on children. The truth is, we just really dont know the implications of melatonin in the longer term, for adults or kids.Another reality: Studies have found that while using melatonin can be helpful in inducing sleep if used correctly taking it at least two hours before bed but the actual benefit is small.When adults took melatonin, it decreased the amount of time it took them to fall asleep by four to eight minutes, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Childrens Hospital at the University of Washington, told CNN in 2021.Video below: Poor sleep linked to poor heart healthSo for someone who takes hours to fall asleep, probably the better thing for them to do is turn off their screens, or get 20 to 40 minutes of exercise each day, or dont drink any caffeinated products at all, Breuner said.These are all sleep hygiene tools that work, but people are very reticent to do them. They rather just take a pill, right?Training your brain to sleepThere are other proven sleep tips that work just as well, if not better than sleeping aids, experts say. The body begins secreting melatonin at dark. What do we do in our modern culture? Use artificial light to keep us awake, often long past the bodys normal bedtime.Research has found that the body will slow or stop melatonin production if exposed to light, including the blue light from our smartphones, laptops and the like.Any LED spectrum light source may further suppress melatonin levels, said Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, who directs sleep basic research in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in an earlier CNN interview.So ban those devices at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Like to read yourself to sleep? Thats fine, experts say, just read in a dim light from a book or use an e-reader in night mode.Digital light will suppress the circadian drive, Polotsky said, while a dim reading light will not.Other tips include keeping your bedroom temperature at cooler temperatures about 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). We sleep better if were a bit chilly, experts say.Set up a bedtime ritual by taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book or listening to soothing music. Or you can try deep breathing, yoga, meditation or light stretches. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or your days off, experts say. The body likes routine.If your doctor does prescribe melatonin to help with jet lag or other minor sleep issues, keep the use short term, Robbins said.If you are planning to use melatonin for a short-term sleep aid, try to purchase pharmaceutical-grade melatonin, she advised. To find it, look for a stamp showing that the independent, nonprofit U.S. Pharmacopoeial Convention Dietary Supplement Verification Program has tested the product.

More and more adults are taking over-the-counter melatonin to get to sleep, and some may be using it at dangerously high levels, a study has found.

The overall use among the U.S. adult population is still relatively low, but the study does document a significant many-fold increase in melatonin use in the past few years, said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School. She was not involved in the study.

The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, found that by 2018 Americans were taking more than twice the amount of melatonin than a decade earlier.

Melatonin has been linked to headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, irritability and mild anxiety, depression and tremors as well as abnormally low blood pressure. It can also interact with common medications and trigger allergies.

While short-term use for people with jet lag, shift workers and those who have trouble falling asleep appears to be safe, long-term safety is unknown, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health.

In an associational study we found that older adults who reported frequent use every night or most nights of a sleep aid (over the counter or prescription) had a higher risk of incident dementia and early mortality, Robbins said.

However, researchers could not determine which type of sleep aid over-the-counter medications, such as melatonin, or prescription medications was responsible for the findings.

Melatonins side effects

Since 2006, a small but growing subset of adults are taking amounts of melatonin that far exceed the dosage of 5 milligrams a day typically used as a short-term treatment, the study found.

However, pills for sale may contain levels of melatonin much higher than what is advertised on the label. Unlike drugs and food, melatonin is not fully regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so there are no federal requirements that companies test pills to ensure they contain the amount of advertised melatonin.

Previous research has found that that melatonin content in these unregulated, commercially available melatonin supplements ranged from 83% to +478% of the labeled content, said Robbins, who coauthored the book Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep But are Too Tired to Ask.

Nor are there any requirements that companies test their products for harmful hidden additives in melatonin supplements sold in stores and online. Previous studies also found 26% of the melatonin supplements contained serotonin, a hormone that can have harmful effects even at relatively low levels, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

We cannot be certain of the purity of melatonin that is available over the counter, Robbins said.

Taking too much serotonin by combining medications such as antidepressants, migraine medications and melatonin can lead to a serious drug reaction. Mild symptoms include shivering and diarrhea, while a more severe reaction can lead to muscle rigidity, fever, seizures and even death if not treated.

Is it bad to take melatonin every night?

Because it is purchased over the counter, experts say many people view melatonin as an herbal supplement or vitamin. In reality, melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, located deep within the brain, and released into the bloodstream to regulate the bodys sleep cycles.

There is a view that if its natural, then it cant hurt, Robbins told CNN in an earlier interview on the impact of melatonin on children. The truth is, we just really dont know the implications of melatonin in the longer term, for adults or kids.

Another reality: Studies have found that while using melatonin can be helpful in inducing sleep if used correctly taking it at least two hours before bed but the actual benefit is small.

When adults took melatonin, it decreased the amount of time it took them to fall asleep by four to eight minutes, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Childrens Hospital at the University of Washington, told CNN in 2021.

Video below: Poor sleep linked to poor heart health

So for someone who takes hours to fall asleep, probably the better thing for them to do is turn off their screens, or get 20 to 40 minutes of exercise each day, or dont drink any caffeinated products at all, Breuner said.

These are all sleep hygiene tools that work, but people are very reticent to do them. They rather just take a pill, right?

Training your brain to sleep

There are other proven sleep tips that work just as well, if not better than sleeping aids, experts say. The body begins secreting melatonin at dark. What do we do in our modern culture? Use artificial light to keep us awake, often long past the bodys normal bedtime.

Research has found that the body will slow or stop melatonin production if exposed to light, including the blue light from our smartphones, laptops and the like.

Any LED spectrum light source may further suppress melatonin levels, said Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, who directs sleep basic research in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in an earlier CNN interview.

So ban those devices at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Like to read yourself to sleep? Thats fine, experts say, just read in a dim light from a book or use an e-reader in night mode.

Digital light will suppress the circadian drive, Polotsky said, while a dim reading light will not.

Other tips include keeping your bedroom temperature at cooler temperatures about 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). We sleep better if were a bit chilly, experts say.

Set up a bedtime ritual by taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book or listening to soothing music. Or you can try deep breathing, yoga, meditation or light stretches. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or your days off, experts say. The body likes routine.

If your doctor does prescribe melatonin to help with jet lag or other minor sleep issues, keep the use short term, Robbins said.

If you are planning to use melatonin for a short-term sleep aid, try to purchase pharmaceutical-grade melatonin, she advised. To find it, look for a stamp showing that the independent, nonprofit U.S. Pharmacopoeial Convention Dietary Supplement Verification Program has tested the product.

#melatonin #sleep #rise #study #potential #health #harms

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