Melatonin Sleep Aids: Risks and Benefits

The use of melatonin sleep aids has grown in popularity.  Although taking these supplements for short-term use and in accordance with a doctor’s guidance is generally safe- misusing them can lead to harmful health effects.

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies to help regulate our sleep-wake cycles.  However, some people may choose to take lab-made melatonin as supplements because their bodies do not produce enough of the hormone, or they are having difficulty falling asleep or staying awake.

When taken safely, melatonin can offer multiple health benefits.  Research suggests that melatonin supplements may help provide relief from several sleep problems such as insomnia, jet lag or shift work sleep disorder.

Melatonin supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); therefore, there is not much information available on safe or best dosages.  This is why it is highly advised to consult a physician before using melatonin due to the risk of developing potential side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Mild tremors
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Low blood pressure

Certain medications are known to interact with melatonin and pose health complications.  Interactions can occur with the following types of drugs:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Contraceptive drugs
  • Epilepsy medications
  • Diabetes medications

Before taking melatonin as a sleep aid, please speak with your doctor. If you are experiencing problems sleeping such as insomnia or other disorders, a sleep specialist can help you to explore the best treatments for your health.  To schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.