Melatonin: Usage, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warnings
In this article, we’ll discuss Melatonin in detail.
Quality sleep is always better than quantity sleep. But one may have noticed that the quality of sleep differs during different phases in life.
Have you ever wondered about the reason for this difference? The answer is melatonin.
Melatonin is a chemical that controls one’s sleep quality. It is highly desirable during periods of sleep and for healthy sleep cycles.
In these modern times, a greater number of people are suffering from sleep deprivation. As a result, melatonin supplements have gained traction and they find extensive use in the form of medication too.
Read further to learn more about the drug and its nitty-gritty details.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland and it handles the sleep-wake cycles of the body. The secretion reaches its peak at night. Thus, its levels at night are much higher than those in the day.
It is considered as the all-vital sleep hormone as one sleeps better during periods of secretion.
Melatonin- generation mostly takes place in the brain. It then circulates in the body via the blood.
How Does It Work?
Melatonin regulates the day and night cycles of the body. It is due to this hormone that your brain understands the difference in day and night.
Darkness serves as a trigger for its secretion. This secretion increases rapidly as it gets darker and you’re awake. The body then prepares for a sound sleep.
Light has the opposite effect as its levels decrease, and the body prepares to achieve a wakeful state.
Lower levels of melatonin are linked to reduced quality of sleep. Thus, people have been opting for melanin-based drugs.
Melatonin supplements are used primarily for sleeping disorders. Common uses include:
1. To Sleep On Time
Melatonin ingestion helps reduce the amount of time taken by one to fall asleep.
These supplements Are generally used by people who have trouble falling asleep as it leads to an improvement in the overall quality of one’s sleep.
2. Treatment Of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a painful uterine disorder as it causes the tissue that normally lines the uterus to grow outside the uterus. Women suffering from this condition struggle with tremendous pain.
Daily melatonin consumption is known to reduce endometriosis linked pain in such women. This eliminates the need for consuming other painkillers.
It can also reduce pain during menstruation and intercourse.
3. To Lower Blood Pressure
Controlled consumption of melatonin before bedtime can lower blood pressure. This is used particularly by people with high blood pressure.
It may take some time for these effects to show, but the results are definite.
4. Treat Insomnia
Melatonin can shorten the amount of time it takes for an insomniac to fall asleep, though slightly. It might also increase the time one spends sleeping.
5. Reduce Jet Lag
Melatonin can improve symptoms of jet lag. Alertness and coordination in movements are increased, whereas, daytime sleepiness and tiredness are reduced.
But it might not be able to shorten the time it takes for people with jet lag to fall asleep.
6. Reducing Anxiety
Melatonin can also be used to reduce anxiety and thus make stressed-out individuals more relaxed.
It is used as midazolam, a standard medication. This is extremely effective in reducing one’s anxiety before surgery. It can even help lessen one’s agitation after surgery.
7. Treating Sunburn
People sensitive to sunlight often get sunburns. Using melatonin gel before sun exposure can help prevent this.
Melatonin cream can also be useful. But it might not be so for people with less sensitive skin, they should use the gel form.
8. Improve Platelet Count
Thrombocytopenia is a medical condition that is characterized by abnormally low levels of thrombocytes (platelets) in the blood.
This has been largely associated with many severe diseases, cancer being one of them. It can also be a side effect of cancer treatment (chemotherapy).
Melatonin is known to cause a spike in low blood platelet count. Thus, working towards reducing the symptoms of poor platelet counts.
Melatonin usage is mostly safe for adults on a short-term basis. Moderate long-term consumption also rarely raises alarm.
Although no medicine is free of side effects and melatonin is no exception.
Some of its side effects are:
- Drowsiness during the day
- Stomach cramps
- Feelings of depression
One should not consume it unnecessarily. A doctor should be consulted before use as you never know what drug interactions may occur.
Drug interactions are extremely common in people who don’t take professional advice before administering themselves with medicines.
Melatonin interacts with sedative drugs like CNS depressants. Thus they should never be combined.
Sedatives are drugs that cause sleepiness. Whereas, melatonin itself causes sleepiness. This can cause excessive sleepiness in a person, which can be lethal. Your body will fail to lift itself from a relaxed state and you may suffer to acquire the will to do the most basic of day-to-day functions.
Examples of sedative medications include alprazolam, lorazepam, and diazepam.
Apart from these, one should also be cautious about its uses with other medications. These include:
- Contraceptive Drugs
- Diabetes medications
- Medicines to lower blood pressure
- Medications that prevent blood clotting
One should also take care while consuming fluvoxamine. It can increase the melatonin absorption rate of the body. Taking melatonin and fluvoxamine in combination may increase its effects and side effects.
Melatonin can be consumed by mouth, injected into the body, or applied to the skin. Small patches of melatonin are also available to be placed under the cheek or tongue.
The dosage levels vary for both children and adults. They also vary based on the reason for consumption.
- Doses up to 5mg daily are generally considered safe for sleeping disorders.
- 10mg daily ingestion for up to 8 weeks is advised for the treatment of endometriosis.
- About 2-4mg of daily melanin consumption for 4 weeks can help reduce blood pressure.
- 3-10mg is taken an hour or two before surgery. This helps reduce anxiety.
- A gel containing up to 2.5% melatonin applied can be applied to the skin. This can be done either before or sometime after sun exposure.
About 5mg daily consumption is also considered safe for use by children. This helps them overcome sleep issues.
However, one should always follow a doctor’s prescription.
- Pregnant women should avoid its consumption. It can have similar effects as birth control pills. One should not take it if they are trying to get pregnant.
- It is best to avoid it while breastfeeding.
- It can worsen bleeding disorders.
- It can give rise to depression symptoms.
- It can increase blood sugar. Diabetic patients should be cautious while using them.
- It can increase the risk of seizures.
- It has the potential to reduce immune function. Thus it can cause trouble for transplant recipients.
- It can raise blood pressure. Hypertension patients should be vigilant while using it.
All in all, melatonin in a safe drug. If used in the right manner, it can promote better sleeping cycles in patients.
August 28, 2020 Sam Bell