Taking over-the-counter melatonin for sleep purposes has surged among adults in the US but there are potential dangers, a new study has claimed.
The study claims high intake of melatonin can be linked to potentially harmful side effects such as dizziness, nausea and stomach cramps.
We break everything down.
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Why people take melatonin for sleep
A recent study by doctors Li, Somers, Lopez-Jimenez and Covassin, based in medical centres in the US and China, claims the intake of melatonin for sleep purposes is on the rise in the US. But why is it taken and what does it do?
As per WebMD, melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that helps your body to know when it’s time to sleep and time to wake up.
You can take melatonin as a supplement, as many adults in the US do. Typically, the hormone is used to tackle insomnia and delayed sleep phase disorder as well as helping people who have trouble staying asleep or getting to sleep.
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Why high levels of melatonin could be dangerous
Sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, who wasn’t involved in the study, warns high levels of the supplement could be harmful.
Robbins told CNN: “Taking sleep aids has been linked in prospective studies with the development of dementia and early mortality.”
As reported by CNN and WebMD, melatonin has also been linked to headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, mild anxiety and depression.
CNN also reports pills for sale may contain levels of melatonin that are much higher than advertised on the label because they are “not fully regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration”.
The recommended dosage for short-term treatment is five milligrams a day, the doctors’ report states.
Tips for falling asleep
If you do experience trouble falling asleep, Hopkins Medicine recommends natural sleeping aids and remedies.
The outlet suggests avoiding alcohol before you sleep and opting for caffeine-free hot tea such as chamomile.
Hopkins Medicine also advises keeping your surroundings dark before you fall asleep. That means trying to avoid your smartphone or TV before bed and opting for a book.
Lastly, try to stick to a consistent night-time routine, aiming to go to bed around the same time every night.
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