What You Need to Know About Melatonin

What You Need to Know About Melatonin

Some helpful information on melatonin from our sleep expert.

Jan 27th, 2019

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by your brain in response to light and darkness. It serves the important function of regulating the body’s Circadian rhythm (day night body clock). Because melatonin plays such a key role in regulating the body clock and sleep, it is often used as a medication to treat sleep problems in both adults and children.

What are some common uses of melatonin?

Insomnia, jet lag, shift work related sleep problems are often treated with melatonin. Research studies have established the role of melatonin in treating these disorders to varying degrees.

Sleep is complex; specifically what does melatonin help with?

Studies have shown that melatonin can help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer. The quality of sleep with melatonin is often better as well as measured by both subjective reports from patients taking melatonin and objective measures of sleep quality (via sleep study etc.).  

Advantages of using melatonin over other sleep medications:

  • No concerns of developing dependence and addiction to melatonin compared to some other commonly prescribed sleep medications like benzodiazepines
  • You are less likely to feel ‘hungover ‘or groggy the day after when you take melatonin for sleep versus most other prescription and over the counter sleep medications
  • You do not need a prescription to get melatonin
  • Side effects are very uncommon

Things to note:

Most people will benefit from low doses starting 0.1-0.3 mg. Some people may notice that a higher dose helps them fall asleep faster and helps them stay asleep longer. Melatonin can be taken as needed.

Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya
Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS, is a board-certified adult psychiatrist at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Dr. Bhattacharya lends a wealth of experience in the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep issues, memory problems, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. She is also experienced working with people who have challenges with interpersonal communication, social anxiety, low self-esteem, overwhelming negative thinking, and sleep problems. She works with patients via both telemedicine and in person.

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