Last Updated: March 21, 2022
A growing number of people are taking supplemental melatonin to help them with their sleeping issues. However, a study shows that many of them could be using this popular supplement at concerningly high levels, East Idaho News reports.
Melatonin has become the go-to choice for people struggling to sleep. A study published in the medical journal JAMA, notes that people have been using melatonin long before the pandemic started. In the study, the experts note that by 2018 Americans were taking twice the amount of melatonin when compared to 2008. As COVID-19 surged and many Americans struggled to get some sleep due to the increased anxiety and stress, melatonin intake rose drastically.
Why Is This a Cause for Concern?
Whatever you use, it can be harmful to your health if used without moderation. And melatonin is no exception to the rule. Too many sleep aids could be extremely unhealthy. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep specialist, explains: “Taking sleep aids has been linked in prospective studies with the development of dementia and early mortality”.
Is It Regulated?
Statistics on insomnia show that a third of the population suffers from sleeplessness. That’s why many people try melatonin, despite the lack of data on the long-term effect of taking it. The moderate intake of melatonin is 5 milligrams a day and it should be used for a very short period of time. Since 2006, more and more adults started taking more than 5 milligrams per day of melatonin and using it for longer periods of time.
Over-the-counter pills contain higher levels of melatonin and are not regulated by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration). Therefore, finding out what these commercially available melatonin supplements contain is a bit tricky. Since they are not regulated, no one can tell for sure whether the companies that produce such pills test the advertised melatonin levels.
Studies have found that 26% of the melatonin supplements on the market contained serotonin, a chemical that is found naturally in the human body, but that could have harmful effects on people’s health if taken as a supplement. “We cannot be certain of the purity of the melatonin that is available over the counter,” Robbins concludes.
What Are the Alternatives?
It’s commonly known that the human body produces melatonin when it’s dark. Consequently, turning all your devices and lights off one hour before bed will help the body produce melatonin naturally. There are many more tips and tricks to help you when you are having trouble sleeping at night. Trying to meditate spiritually or looking up some activities to help you with anxiety before sleep and implementing them into your bedtime routine could help you train your brain to sleep without the help of sleeping aids. If you still plan on using melatonin, first consult with your doctor.