Do Melatonin Supplements Actually Help You Sleep? We Ask An Expert
If you’re as obsessed with sleep as we are, you may have heard about melatonin supplements, which are whispered to improve the quality of your sleep. But honestly, with all the misinformation about sleep that’s circling – TikTok we’re looking at ‘chu – we have a long list of questions. So we got in touch with sleep expert and Founder of Nurture2Sleep, Julie Mallon, and asked, well, everything. She has the (chamomile) tea…
What is Melatonin?
Before we get into it, Julie clarifies what melatonin actually is, “Melatonin is a hormone that our brain produces in the dark. It guides our circadian rhythm, which is our internal 24-hour biological clock. Modern-day living results in our circadian rhythm being disturbed and disrupted constantly. A perfect example is continual light exposure; we’re often overexposed to light, specifically blue light at night, which can block melatonin production and therefore lead to many sleep disruptions, and even sleep disorders.”
Julie also adds, “Research suggests that melatonin has other benefits such as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, these effects are not fully understood.” Got it!
How do Melatonin Supplements Work?
Before you start poppin’ melatonin supplements, Julie notes, “I do believe that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding melatonin. Melatonin is not a sedative. Melatonin does not induce sleep, but it is a sleep regulator or facilitator, which helps prepare the brain and body for sleep. This is achieved by helping to regulate the body’s biological clock and sleep-wake cycles.”
If you’re looking for hard receipts, Julie confirms, “There is scientific research showing that melatonin supplementation can strengthen and improve our sleep-wake cycles.”
As for the non-sleep-related benefits, Julie says, “Scientists are learning more and more about melatonin and how it plays a role in treating and preventing disease. There’s even research highlighting how melatonin may help to regulate blood sugar, which is another great benefit.”
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Do You Recommend Melatonin Supplements?
“It must be recognized that melatonin is a hormone and therefore should be taken with caution as it can be an endocrine disruptor resulting in the disruption of many other key hormones,” Julie explains.
However, she does note that “melatonin supplements may help with certain conditions, such as jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (difficulty falling asleep), as well as forms of anxiety.” She continues, “As a short-term measure, like beating jet lag, the use of melatonin supplements is safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety is lacking.”
Her preferred option is actually magnesium, which she explains is a “sleep mineral, which is often more effective and will have a greater long-term effect.” We heard that…
What Melatonin Supplements Do You Recommend, and How Do You Take Them?
According to Julie, “A recent study found that the actual melatonin content in supplements varies significantly from what product labels claim. One study found that in more than 71% of melatonin supplements, the amount of melatonin was more than 10% different from what the label indicated. Some products contained as much as 83% less melatonin, while others contain as much as 478% more melatonin!” So basically, look into your supplements.
For nightly sleep: “If you choose to take melatonin at bedtime to help guide the body to sleep – which is convenient for a lot of people – opt for the timed-release supplement (as opposed to the standard-release tablets), like these Natrol Melatonin Supplements, $9. This will help reduce the impact of your melatonin levels peaking and reducing prematurely, rather than reaching the optimal levels in the final third of a night’s sleep.”
For jetlag: “Again, ensuring the quality of your melatonin, as a treatment for jet lag in healthy adults, it’s recommended to start 0.5 mg ninety minutes before you want to go to sleep in your new destination, accompanied by a minimum of 20 minutes of light exposure therapy in the morning, for example, a walk outside without sunglasses.”
In short: melatonin supplements can help improve your quality of sleep, but you’ve got to find the right release standard. Oh, and we repeat: it’s not a sedative or a sleeping pill.
Have you ever taken melatonin supplements? Let’s chat in the comments below.