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  • Sayanti Bhattacharya MD, MS

What you need to know about melatonin

Melatonin is secreted by your brain in response to light and darkness and regulates your sleep-wake cycle and 24-hour internal body clock (Circadian rhythm). Melatonin supplements are often used to treat sleep problems in both adults and children.

What is melatonin is used for?

Insomnia, jet lag, shift work related sleep problems. The evidence for the effectiveness of melatonin in these conditions is variable.

Sleep is complex, what does melatonin help with?

Studies have shown that melatonin can help you fall asleep sooner. 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.

Advantages of using melatonin:

You are less likely to develop dependence on melatonin compared to some other commonly prescribed sleep medications like benzodiazepines. Often people note that they do not get habituated to melatonin as well as compared to other sleep agents.

You are less likely to feel ‘hung-over ‘or groggy the day after when you take melatonin for sleep versus most other sleep medications.

So far no major long term side effects of melatonin use have been determined.

You do not need a prescription to get melatonin

Things to note:

Sometimes higher doses can make you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, however most people will benefit from low doses starting 0.1-0.3 mg.

Take melatonin 3-4 hours before bedtime.

You can take melatonin as needed.

If you are having problems with sleep and would like a professional consultation, please feel free to contact me.

Sleep well!

Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya MD, MS

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