melatonin, sleep, insomnia, physical therapy bozeman, momentum physical therapy

Melatonin – The best option if you can’t sleep?

When you have difficulty sleeping, melatonin may be one of the first things you may reach for in an effort to get some rest. But, is melatonin the best option and are there any side effects?

Background
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. This is a pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun sets and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours – all through the night – before the light of a new day when they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 am. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.
Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin supplements are believed to be relatively safe, and are available over-the-counter at many pharmacies and health supplement stores. It can be compounded in multiple ways, and is sometimes added to other products meant to aid sleep. Pure melatonin is most often sold as a pill or capsule, but you can also buy it in liquid or even spray form.
The advertised strength of the melatonin dose can range from 1mg up to 10mg or more. It’s important to remember that melatonin is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of this, production and quality standards are not enforced, so the dose may actually vary from the listed strength. So, always purchase from a reputable source.
Do Melatonin Supplements Really Work?

Research suggests that even very low doses of melatonin may be effective at regulating the circadian rhythm, although it is not clear whether exposure to light may be more effective.  Studies have not found an ‘optimal dose’. Because of this, it is prudent to take the lowest possible effective dose. (This would mean taking 1mg or 2mg per day to aid sleep.) Effects of long-term use are unknown. 

Who should avoid melatonin supplements?

Talk to your health care provider before taking a melatonin supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have an autoimmune disorder, a seizure disorder, depression, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Who are melatonin supplements effective for?

Melatonin supplements don’t help with every sleep related issue. They work by telling your brain it’s time to go to bed. Therefore, it can help you fall asleep more quickly, but hasn’t been proven to increase the total time or quality of sleep. 

Melatonin supplements in a nutshell

Melatonin supplements can be helpful when used occasionally, and in small doses.

If you’re having significant difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, please look into our other blog posts (here and here) regarding sleep and how to increase the quality and quantity of it. This is also a great article from the New York Times about sleep. 

If discomfort or pain is limiting your sleep, request a phone consultation with our team to see if physical therapy could be an effective option in helping you get more sleep!

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