It’s estimated that roughly 50 to 70 million Americans have sleeping difficulties. Although it’s a common issue, the consequences that come with it are severe. When you add anxiety to poor sleep they form a perfect recipe for energy depletion, low productivity and increased risk of diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Melatonin guides your body when to sleep and is a great supplement for people struggling with sleep disorders.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. It’s produced primarily by the pineal gland in the brain but you can find it in other parts of the body like eyes, bone marrow, and gut. Supplementing with melatonin for anxiety can help improve sleep quality, regulate circadian rhythm and ease feelings of anxiousness.
Often, people use it as a sleep remedy, but melatonin itself doesn’t make you sleep. It just signals your body that it’s night time giving you a relaxing feeling and you fall asleep easily.
How Melatonin Works
When the darkness sets in, your body starts to produce more melatonin which prepares your body for night sleep. Additionally, it regulates the body’s temperature, blood pressure, and hormone levels. Melatonin binds itself to a receptor in the body thus reducing anxiety. In the eyes, melatonin reduces dopamine levels, a hormone that makes you stay awake. Alternatively, light suppresses melatonin production thus you know it when it’s time to wake up. People who don’t make enough of this hormone might have troubles falling asleep. Factors such as stress, smoking, much exposure to light (including blue light) and shift work can cause the production of low levels of melatonin at night. However, taking melatonin supplements can help resolve these issues.
Melatonin for Anxiety
In the studies involving melatonin as an anxiety reliever, most of the studies done were on people undergoing a surgical procedure. It’s natural for someone to have anxiety before a major surgical operation. Melatonin was compared to drugs such as midazolam or a placebo sugar pill when given before surgery. It was found that melatonin worked better in reducing anxiety as compared to the other drugs. In all cases, melatonin proved to be better in improving sleep and reducing symptoms of anxiety.
You can find melatonin supplements in the form of tablets taken by mouth or pills that are placed under the tongue. Researchers are yet to determine the most effective dose that can improve symptoms of anxiety immediately. However, most clinical trials suggest that three to ten milligram of melatonin just before bedtime can help relieve anxiety. Additionally, the United State Pharmacopeia has verified some melatonin supplements meaning they contain what’s listed on the label and are free of contaminants. Some of them include Nature Made’s Melatonin 3 mg Tablets and Melatonin 5 mg Tablets.
Melatonin for Better Sleep
All studies done on melatonin as a sleeping remedy show that if taken before bed it can indeed help you get quality sleep. In addition to that, it can treat jet lag, a temporary sleep disorder. Jet lag can be characterized by the body’s internal clock out of sync with the new time zone. It’s a common disorder for shift workers because they work when it’s time to sleep. Melatonin corrects this condition by syncing your internal clock with the time change. For examples, for people who travel through five or more time zones, melatonin can remarkably reduce the effects of jet lag. Whichever dosage you decide on taking, either as low as 0.5 mg or as high as 5 mg, both are effective at reducing jet lag.
Potential Side Effects
Almost all drugs have some potential side effects, however, melatonin users don’t experience any troublesome side effects. The side effects that normally occur are mild and there are:
Additionally, melatonin can cause sleepiness, but it doesn’t impair thinking or coordination like other anti-anxiety drugs. Melatonin can interact with other drugs including blood pressure medication, blood thinners or any other medication that causes sleepiness. People taking such drugs should consult their doctors first before using melatonin. They could be recommended an alternative medication. Also, if you’ve received an organ transplant or have a seizure disorder you should talk to your doctor before using melatonin.
Melatonin is an effective supplement that works for anxiety and better sleep. It also has some other health benefits as well. When taking melatonin supplement you should start low from 0.5 to one mg taken 30 minutes before bed. Then increase the dose to 3-5 mg. Although melatonin helps relieve anxiety, it’s not clear how it works for different forms of anxiety. If your anxiety symptoms are more severe, incorporating other forms of treatment can really help.