This past week my family practitioner decided it was time to add melatonin to my regimen of nighttime sleep routine. Me who was able to lie on his back breath for 5 minutes and fall asleep. My wife was very jealous, to say the least. But recent events and medical tests have sidelined my blissful sleep with nights of insomnia I have never experienced before. Where I was falling asleep anywhere between 2:00-4:00 a.m every morning.
Hence the reason for taking melatonin. With the taking of melatonin started the daily headaches from the time I woke up until the time I would go to sleep. That is when I discovered that this seemingly harmless hormone does have a dark side. According to the FDA, melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement. But according to Dr. Wurtman “this as a marketing ploy to circumvent the bureaucratic web of research and patents that typically burden the process of bringing drugs and hormones to market.”
What we need to do is be very careful, especially men, in taking melatonin as a supplement. The reality is it is a hormone and taken over a long period of time it can desensitize the penial gland in the brain to the point where you won’t respond to the melatonin your body makes or the melatonin you take. Like with everything else we put in our bodies we must be aware of the benefits and the drawbacks. Melatonin does have some positive qualities if we remember it is more than just a supplement.
Contrary to popular belief, a melatonin supplement will not help you fall asleep—but it could help you sleep through the night if you chronically wake up way too early and cannot fall back asleep. (This sleep pattern is particularly likely among people in their 50s or older—our natural melatonin production decreases as we age.) A melatonin supplement also can help shift your sleep schedule following travel between time zones, reducing jet lag.
Melatonin supplements are safe for most people, but they have been shown to decrease the effectiveness of certain crucial medications including blood pressure drugs, seizure-prevention drugs, antidepressants, and birth control medications. They can increase blood sugar levels, too, making them potentially dangerous for diabetics.
Other potential side effects include headaches, dizziness, stomach irritation, irritability, short-term depression, and grogginess. These side effects are most likely when people take excessive doses—but almost everyone takes excessive doses. An appropriate initial adult dose typically is 0.5 milligrams (mg), but most melatonin supplements contain three, five or even 10 mg per pill.
What to do: If you have trouble remaining asleep through the night or want to head off jet lag, take a 0.5 mg dose of melatonin 90 minutes before bedtime to give it time to be released into the bloodstream and reach the brain. If you wait until bedtime, you might still be groggy in the morning.
If this proves ineffective, gradually increase the dosage on future nights until you find a level that works for you, but do not exceed 5 mg. (If you have diabetes or are taking medications for any of the health conditions mentioned, consult with your doctor.)
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