Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland buried deep inside our brain. The hormone is supposed to help our bodies reset what is known as circadian rhythm — how we perceive night and day.
Little scientific data exists to justify taking a melatonin supplement as a sleep aid, but lay literature hails it as helpful for the sleep-deprived. Books and articles claim melatonin is safer and more effective than any other sleep aid.
It is used to help prevent jet lag, and its omnipresence in the cocktail of supplements and vitamins used to help people sleep make it important for me to mention it.
While there is a paucity of scientific studies on melatonin because it has not been used in a patented drug, its use has not been associated with any dangerous outcomes.
What’s more, it has been on the market in over-the-counter preparations for more than 20 years. I believe those battling insomnia can try it without worry.
I recommend low doses of .5 mg to 1 mg at night and that you don’t take it with other medications.
The results are apparent after taking melatonin for a few days. Some people swear by it and continue using it indefinitely, while others like me find it causes disturbing dreams and erratic sleep patterns.
Everyone is different.
Posts by Erika Schwartz, M.D
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