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What You Should Know Before Taking Melatonin For Sleep

(From the emergency email and wireless post)

If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you may have considered taking melatonin to help you sleep. Melatonin is a supplement that is sold over-the-counter, much like other dietary supplements. It’s considered by many to be much safer than other sleep medications, but it can be misused or abused just like any other drug or supplement.

If you are going to use melatonin to combat your insomnia, make sure you do so correctly. Here are some things you should be keeping in mind.

What is Melatonin?

First of all, you should know what melatonin is before you start taking it. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by your brain’s pineal gland at night. When the sun goes down and it gets dark, your melatonin levels go up and remain elevated until your surroundings become brighter. The elevated levels of melatonin help you fall asleep and stay asleep, while lower levels help you stay awake during the day.

How Should You Use Melatonin?

Melatonin production is part of the body’s natural clock. When it is time for you to sleep, your body produces more of it. When it is time for you to be awake, it produces less. Therefore, it stands to reason that taking synthetic melatonin in the form of a supplement will help you fall asleep more easily. While there is definitely some truth to this, a melatonin supplement doesn’t work like a sleeping pill. When it is used correctly, melatonin works like a “darkness signaler” in that it tells the body that it is time to go to sleep for the night. This also means that it isn’t nearly as effective when it is taken during the day; all that does is give your body mixed signals that will make it harder to sleep at night.

Most people do find melatonin effective in fighting insomnia, but only when they follow these basic guidelines:

Only take melatonin at night when it is time for you to go to sleep.
Do not take melatonin during the day as it can have adverse effects such as insomnia and depression.
Don’t take melatonin for longer than two weeks at a time. A two-week regimen will help reset your body’s circadian rhythms, but taking it more will increase the likelihood of side effects.
Make sure that your bedroom is dark when you take melatonin. Shut off any glowing screens from devices, and turn off any lights in your room that could be making it difficult to fall asleep.

The last item on this list is perhaps the most important. Melatonin might help you fall asleep, but your insomnia is probably being caused by something else. Shut off any devices or lights that could be keeping you up at night, and speak to your doctor about anything else that might be giving you sleepless nights.