Ever since I was a little girl, I struggled with sleep. My mother tells me I never really slept more than five to six hours per night, making it hard for everyone in the house to get a good night’s sleep.
I thought this was something I had overcome in my teenage years. But as I turned 40 and years passed, it became increasingly harder for me to go to bed at a reasonable hour, just like when I was a child.
I am a mommy of three with a full-time job – going to bed before 11:00 PM, never seems to be an option for me. Also, my job requires travel, and jet-lag does not really help improve my sleeping conditions.
Nonetheless, the rare days I do make it to bed before that time, my body is so agitated that I still end up closing my eyes well after midnight and wake up hours before the alarm goes off.
It has become an actual problem that affects not only my mood but also my performance at work.
My Battle with Insomnia
As you might have gathered, insomnia is no stranger to me. Thus, I can safely say I have tried everything to help me fall asleep faster, get a better night’s rest, and reduce anxiety! I own a variety of sleeping aids that range from noise-canceling headphones to aromatherapy.
I have shifted my eating habits and avoid drinking coffee, soda, or any other beverages that might contain caffeine (especially at night) as it is contraindicated in people that suffer from insomnia.
I also had to let go of chocolate, sweets, and other sugary treats that could interfere with my sleep.
I tried exercising more, especially during morning hours, to burn the extra energy and tend to stay away from screens (e.g., television, tablets, phones) at least thirty minutes before going to bed.
I even participate in a medical trial that was held at a local clinic. Nonetheless, none of these techniques worked!
The only thing I refused to try was sleeping medication. I never really care for sleeping pills, given that I am totally against medicating me (or my children) unless it is absolutely necessary and prescribed by a professional.
Thus, just when I thought I would be eternally condemned to have dark circles under my eyes, I came across a new component: Melatonin.
Right about now, you might be thinking: great, another moneymaking fad. And trust me, when I first saw the online ad that is exactly what I thought.
I remember thinking that Melatonin pills were this year’s version of the green bean ‘miracle’ coffee pills that made you skinny overnight. Remember those? Or all the infomercials we see, selling magic solutions to our problems, and never actually work.
However, I was so tired of being tired, that one day, I decided to Google the name of the pills I saw advertised. After a few clicks, I was on Amazon.com, placing a 60-count bottle in the shopping cart.
The product description clearly stated they were 100% natural, so I decided to give them a shot! Moreover, out of the wide variety of brands and presentations, I chose Natrol’s Melatonin Gummies.
Why? Well, I guess in my mind they seemed innocuous when compared to the other pills and drops. Besides, who does not like gummies?
It is important to note that they were only $10, and so, they did not represent much of financial risk. The worst thing that could happen was that I threw away a couple of bucks.
The First Night
It took my Melatonin gummies three days to arrive at my home, I never really cared for ‘fast shipping,’ plus I was still a little skeptical. Thus, it was not until a week later that I finally gathered the courage to try them!
The first night I took them, I had just finished putting the kids to sleep, made myself a cup of tea, and crawled into bed. I turned the page on my book, as I always did, took a sip of tea and ate one of my new strawberry flavored gummies.
If memory serves me well, I only took one 5 mg gummy. A good thirty minutes later, I felt so peaceful that falling asleep came naturally. Next thing I remember, I was waking up ten minutes before the alarm! For me, that was a new personal record.
I could not believe my eyes, it was 6:20 AM. I slept through the night and felt completely refreshed. However, just as I was about to jump out of bed, my mommy instincts kicked in!
Suddenly a million questions raised through my head:
– What are these made from?
– Did I just drug myself?
– Are these pills FDA approved?
– Should I keep taking them?
– Are they safe?
– Do I need to tell my doctor?
Even though the gummies worked like a charm, I was not going to be able to retake them before answering all (or most) of my doubts. Thus, I decided to turn on my computer to do some excruciating research.
Yes, I know, I probably should have done this before taking them in the first place, but hey… do not judge me! Sleep deprivation will do that to a person.
The first thing you need to know is that Melatonin is actually a natural hormone produced by our bodies, specifically by the Pineal Gland located in our brains. It is also known as the ‘sleep hormone’ given it plays a crucial role in sleep cycles.
It turns out that Melatonin helps regulate our sleeping cycle by keeping track of the time of day- meaning that once the sun starts to set, the pineal gland produces Melatonin and starts preparing our body for sleep. Cool right?
Nonetheless, depending on your body, age, daily routine, or even gender, you might produce less or more Melatonin- I guess I know on which side of the equation I stand! But, as it also turns out, I am not alone!
According to scientific studies, 80% of the adult population worldwide has trouble sleeping. Furthermore, more often than not, sleep deprivation is closely related to high levels of stress and/or anxiety.
Melatonin not only helps regulate our sleeping cycle, but it also creates a calming sensation. Hence, even though it does not actually put you to sleep, it relaxes your body. As a result, it soothes your mind and helps you fall asleep faster.
But just to be absolutely sure, I asked the family doctor if it was okay for me to use Melatonin Supplements.
After a quick 10-minute chat, he explained that these were safe to take and that they were no known side effects. Nonetheless, he advised that I refrain its usage if I ever felt dizzy, nauseous or droopy.
Natrol Melatonin Gummies
As I mentioned above, Natrol manufactures the Melatonin gummies I bought. This multi-national company has been in the market for over three decades, becoming one of the leading Melatonin brands in the U.S.
It specializes in ‘Nutraceuticals,’ a new branch within the pharmaceutical industry that uses natural components like minerals, vitamins, and (of course) hormones for medical purposes.
According to its website, all of Natrol’s Melatonin-based supplements are:
– 100% drug-free; meaning that they are non-habit forming, unlike many other sleeping pills in the market.
– Proven to have no morning-droopiness.
– Made from all-natural sources with non-GMOs, artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives.
– Vegetarian approved.
– Easy to digest.
– Safe for children.
As for the presentation, the Melatonin gummies I bought are readily available in packs of sixty or ninety counts, come in 5mg or 10 mg, and they all have a sweet (and delicious) strawberry flavor.
As expected, Melatonin gummies are not the only supplement that can help you get a good night’s sleep. Today, there are many other equally competent and reasonably priced options in the market.
However, for this article’s purpose, I want to only focus on Natrol, which is the brand I use and can vouch for!
In that sense, let me be the first one to say that aside from the gummies, the brand carries an extensive Melatonin product line.
Its two best sellers are:
– Melatonin Fast Dissolve
Fast dissolving pills that allow rapid absorption and can be taken anywhere without requiring water. These come in 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg dosage. However, not that Melatonin Fast Dissolve is only available in a 90-count bottle presentation. Thus, if you are trying them for the first time, you might want to go with a lower quantity option.
An advanced pill formulated to help you fall asleep quicker! It is recommended for people who suffer from insomnia and look for a supplement that can get them through the night. It comes in 10mg and is available for purchase in 30, 60, and 100 counts.
Natrol also offers a children’s version of these supplements, a component that would have come in handy when I was a little girl. Thus, I guess we have to thank technology and its medical advances for it!
These are suited for children over 4 years old and have very distinct characteristics such as:
– 100% vegan, meaning there is no animal gelatin component.
– Pediatrician recommended as they are safe and effective.
– Include the signature berry flavor, making it easier for children to swallow or chew them.
– Are all-natural with non-GMOs, sugar, artificial color, or flavors.
– 100% drug-free, meaning they do not create co-dependency
Furthermore, they are available in two presentations:
– Kids Melatonin Fast Dissolve
Just like the adult version, these do not require water and are easily dissolve in the mouth. They come in 1mg dosage and can be purchased in 40-count packets.
– Kids Melatonin Gummies
These delicious gummies are probably your best option if your child is a picky eater. They are also berry flavored and come in 1 mg dosage. Kids Melatonin Gummies are gluten-free and come in 40-count bottles.
Like I said before, there are plenty of brands that also carry Melatonin-based products. Even though I have not tried any other supplement aside from Natrol’s Melatonin Gummies, while I was doing my research, I came across different options.
Below a list of those components that were highly-rated and had excellent customer reviews:
– Sugar Bear Sleep Vitamins
– Vicks ZzzQuil’ Pure Zzzs’
– Carlyle Fast-dissolve Melatonin
– Nature Made Melatonin Tablets
– Vita Fusion Extra-Strength Melatonin Gummies
– OLLY Sleep Melatonin Gummies
– Svasthya Pure Melatonin Liquid
– Nutri Essentials Melatonin Supplement
– 21st Century Vita Joy Melatonin Gummies
– Solimo Quick Dissolve Melatonin (Amazon Brand)
Benefits of Melatonin
Overall, I have been taking Melatonin for over a month now, and it has helped me in so many ways:
– I feel more rested and refreshed.
– I have longer sleep cycles.
– It has helped reduce my anxiety.
– I tend to fall asleep much faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
However, if you are still a bit dubious about taking the plunge and buying any type of Melatonin-based supplements, I have compiled a set of some of the most frequently asked questions.
Hopefully, these can answer most (if not all of your inquiries) and can help you make an informed decision. But if you still have questioned the best thing you can do is contact a specialist or medical professional.
1. Where Does Melatonin Come From?
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by our bodies; it is commonly known as the ‘sleep hormone.’ The Pithal gland located in our brain individually segregates Melatonin. In Nutraceuticals, this hormone is used to regulate sleep-cycles and reduce anxiety.
Most Melatonin supplements result from the extraction of the hormone from cows and other bovines. Nonetheless, there other less common supplements that are made of a synthetic form of Melatonin.
2. How Can Melatonin Help Me Get A Better Night’s Sleep?
Melatonin will not put you to sleep- this is a widespread misunderstanding. What Melatonin does, help you fall asleep faster by repairing our sleeping schedule.
Meaning, that the hormone aids in regulating sleep cycles by upping the Melatonin dosage that is already being produced by our bodies naturally.
People who take Melatonin, say they feel more refresh the morning after, can sleep for more extended periods of time, and experience a reduction of their anxiety and stress levels.
3. Is Melatonin Safe?
Overall, there are no health risks directly associated with the use of this hormone. Nonetheless, it is crucial to note that Melatonin is not a vitamin, and thus, it must be taken in the right dosage.
I recommend you read the supplement’s instructions carefully and do not take more than the recommended dosage.
4. What Is the Recommended Dosage?
If you are not sure which dosage will suffix, I recommend you start off by only taking the minimum, which in most cases is 1 mg.
Keep in mind that the maximum dosage permitted per day is 10 mg and that taking ‘more’ does not necessarily mean you will experience better results.
5. Can I Take Melatonin for Prolonged Periods?
Melatonin is currently not approved by the FDA. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes Melatonin only as a dietary supplement. Thus, just like many other supplements, it is not officially ‘approved.’
As you know, Melatonin is a natural component and is yet to be proven addictive. Unlike other sleep medications, it is no-habit forming, and patients can stop using it without issues.
Nonetheless, I recommend you ask a specialist if it is okay for YOU to take Melatonin for extended periods or daily as not all bodies react the same.
6. Are There Any Side Effects?
Overall, there are no side effects attributed to the use of Melatonin. Nonetheless, its use in ‘Nutraceuticals’ is relatively new.
But, please note that the use of more than the recommended dosage can cause:
– Stomach pains
– And more
7. Do I Need A Medical Prescription?
No, probably one of the best things about Melatonin is that given its natural properties, you do not need a medical prescription to purchase its supplements.
Most, if not all, Melatonin supplements are sold over the counter in pharmacies, drug stores, and even supermarkets across the U.S. Furthermore; most brands are also sold over the Internet in market places such as Amazon.com.
8. Can I Take Melatonin If I Currently Take Other Medications?
In theory, you can take Melatonin while on other medications. Nonetheless, be advised that the use of this hormone might interfere with the effects of some diabetes or blood pressure medications.
Thus, if you take some sort of pill to regulate your blood pressure or if you are a diagnosed diabetic, I suggest you stay away from high dosages of Melatonin. Furthermore, you might want to ask your doctor if it is safe to mix Melatonin supplements with your current medication.
9. Can I Drink Alcohol While on Melatonin Supplements?
As with many other medications, drinking alcohol may interfere with the effectiveness of Melatonin. Hence, it is strongly advised not to drink alcoholic beverages while on Melatonin supplements (even if you are only taking it in small dosages.)
Furthermore, if you are looking to induce sleep, it is best if you stay away from alcohol, given that it tends to accelerate your body and produce other unwanted side effects such as nausea.
10. Can I Take Melatonin While Pregnant?
Melatonin is 100% natural and is already produced by our bodies on a daily basis. Thus, it is perfectly okay to take Melatonin while pregnant if you do not exceed 3 mg per day.
However, please make sure your specialist is aware of (and approves) the use of Melatonin before taking it, as some women might suffer from unwanted side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and even migraines.
11. Can I Take Melatonin on An Empty Stomach?
While there are no contraindications that say you must have something to eat before taking Melatonin, it is always best if you take it after a meal with a glass of fresh water. However, it is entirely up to you!
12. Is It Safe to Give Children Melatonin-Based Supplements?
Yes, like I mentioned before Melatonin is safe for children. Nonetheless, I recommend you only administer it to your kids after consulting it with their pediatrician.
Moreover, always choose supplements that have been specifically designed for children as components and dosages may vary from one presentation to another.
13. Is It True Melatonin Is Not Always Effective?
Melatonin can provide a lot of benefits when used as a sleeping aid or supplement. However, not all bodies indeed react the same while using this hormone. In some cases, it may not always be as effective as commonly advertised.
Just as some medications may have side effects for some people and not others, depending on your system, Melatonin can be more (or less active) when treating insomnia.
But, keep in mind Melatonin is not a drug! And thus, its effect is limited to that included on prescription-based sedatives or even regular allergy or muscle relaxing medications.