Melatonin is a natural substance produced by the brain in the pineal gland. Darkness stimulates the release of melatonin and it is at its highest in the bloodstream prior to bedtime. It has antioxidant properties so often supplements of melatonin are used to treat sleep problems.
Why Is Melatonin Prescribed?
Our sleep cycle can be interrupted for various reasons such as jet lag so often it is prescribed as a drug to be used to regulate the sleep/wake cycle especially when someone is traveling. However, long-term use can have health consequences so it should be used with caution over long periods of time.
What Are Some Side Effects of Melatonin?
Some of the common side effects of melatonin usage include the following:
- Reduction in concentration and alertness levels especially when driving or doing any kind of mechanical or strenuous work.
- Increased heart beat.
- Skin irritations.
- Mood swings or headaches.
- Sleepiness during the day.
- Abdominal distress.
- Nightmares or confusion or sleep walking.
- Nausea or giddiness.
- Weakness and listlessness.
Why You Should Consult With Your Physician About Melatonin
Anyone who is taking medications like blood thinners or anticoagulants, diabetes medicines, immuno-suppressants or birth control pills should consult their doctor before taking melatonin. If you suffer from depression, epilepsy, disorders of the immune system or have kidney or liver problems, you should get advice from your physician. Those who are pregnant or are anticipating pregnancy or breastfeeding should also avoid taking melatonin unless advised by a physician.
The side effects of melatonin with any of these conditions can interact badly with other medications or create other health problems. If you do not see any positive effects when taking melatonin after a period of one to three days you should stop taking it as well or seek advice from your physician. It is only advised for adults and children should not be given melatonin.