Sleeping pills of the century: why you should not abuse melatonin
(ORDO NEWS) — Many people use melatonin to normalize sleep for months (or years). Experts believe that this is not a good habit. But why?
If you yourself have never drunk melatonin, then ask your friends and acquaintances about it. Surrounded by everyone, there is at least one person who is addicted to this hormone.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The main function of melatonin is the regulation of sleep.
Its levels rise in response to darkness, telling the brain that it’s night and it’s time to sleep. When there is bright light, melatonin production stops, and the brain knows that it is daytime, which means it’s time to wake up.
The day-night-regulating properties of melatonin and light help the body establish an internal sleep and wake clock, or “circadian cycle.”
A circadian disorder occurs when there is a mismatch between the internal clock and the socially accepted time to sleep or wake up.
The simplest example is traveling between time zones. But the violation can sometimes occur in the usual conditions.
For example, when you stay surrounded by bright light until late at night, you trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. In this case, the production of melatonin does not occur, and you do not feel sleepy until late in the evening, and sometimes until early morning.
Today, this disorder is increasingly common in teenagers who cannot fall asleep until two or three in the morning, as they constantly use their smartphones before bed. In this case, doctors advise turning off the lights and electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
Alas, it takes time for the body to get used to and “set up” the circadian cycle. Some people are not willing to wait and so they start taking melatonin. Melatonin is available without a prescription, but…
Most often, melatonin can be bought without a prescription. However, any free release of the drug means that the patient can independently increase the dose or simply not follow the instructions.
In the EU, UK, Canada and Australia, melatonin is available by prescription only for short-term treatment of insomnia. This approach allows for a better regulation, understanding and explanation of the risks, benefits and alternatives to its use.
Although melatonin is a natural hormone, it is not without side effects, the most common being headaches and dizziness. It may also interact with other medications, such as anticoagulants (drugs that help prevent blood clots).
The best evidence for the safety of melatonin is only short-term use (one to three months) and at low doses (0.5-1 mg). But the long-term effects of melatonin remain unknown.
Scientists note that insomnia is just a symptom, and you need to not just drink sleeping pills, but look for the cause of this problem.
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