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Supplement Series: Melatonin, the sleep hormone

Updated: Jan 24, 2019

Have trouble sleeping? Have you considered melatonin? Read more to find if it's good for you.

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body's internal clock. It's best known as a sleep aid. Your brain naturally produces melatonin in response to darkness. Your melatonin level peaks around bedtime, helping induce and maintain normal sleep.


Should I consider taking a melatonin supplement?

Some research suggests that taking a melatonin supplement at the right time might help treat jet lag, insomnia or other sleep disruptions.* Melatonin may also reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, although this effect is typically mild.*

Melatonin may also play an important role with pain. Pain can reduce both the length and quality of sleep, and poor sleep can increase the experience of pain. Promoting good, restful sleep can minimize the experience of pain as you heal.* Sleep also is important to the healing process. Healthy levels of melatonin during sleep act as an antioxidant and can help support the overall process of normal healing.*


What are the dietary sources of melatonin?

Small amounts of melatonin are found in foods such as walnuts, corn and asparagus. Some research suggests that the concentrated juice of the tart cherry, also known as the sour or Montmorency cherry, is a good source, although research is conflicting.


How can a melatonin supplement affect my health?

Supplemental melatonin can support you in several ways:

  • Decreases the time to fall asleep*

  • Improves the ability to stay asleep*

  • Enhances the depth of sleep*

  • Helps maintain normal circadian rhythms*

  • Acts as an antioxidant to support health and healing*


How much melatonin should I take?

An amount of melatonin as low as 0.3 milligrams (mg) at bedtime has been shown to help improve sleep quality.* Daily amounts in the range of 3 to 10 mg are more commonly used.


Are there any side effects from taking a melatonin supplement?

When taken as recommended, side effects from a melatonin supplement are uncommon. Possible melatonin side effects include:

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

Other, less common melatonin side effects include abdominal discomfort, mild anxiety, irritability, confusion and short-lasting feelings of depression.


Is it safe to take a melatonin supplement with other medications?

Melatonin supplements can interact with various medications, including:

  • Blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant), such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and others

  • Medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants)

  • Diabetes medications

  • Birth control pills

If you are considering taking a melatonin supplement, check with your health care professional first, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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