Americans use higher melatonin doses for sleep, but study warns of possible health risks

The study warns there is not enough research to determine how dangerous or healthy long-term overuse of melatonin may be. Although short-term use of the pill appears to be safe, high dose usage hasn’t been tested for overall safety, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

More Americans rely on melatonin to help them fall asleep, but how much is too much?

In 2018, Americans took more than twice the amount of the over-the-counter aid that they did a decade earlier, according to research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study warns there is not enough research to determine how dangerous or healthy long-term overuse may be. Although short-term use of the pill appears to be safe, high dose usage hasn’t been tested for overall safety, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Pills may contain higher amounts of melatonin than advertised, according to the study. Melatonin pills are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“These estimates may raise safety concerns, especially given that the actual content of melatonin in marketed supplements may be up to 478% higher than the labeled content and that evidence supporting melatonin use for sleep disturbances is weak,” the study says.

The medical industry spent $826 million on melatonin supplements in 2020, a 43% increase from the year before, said Michael Daignault, an emergency physician.

Previous studies found 26% of the melatonin supplements contained serotonin, “a hormone that can have harmful effects even at relatively low levels,” according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a department of the National Institutes of Health.

Instead of relying on melatonin, people should establish a consistent sleep and wind-down schedule, preferably in a dark, quiet bedroom, Daignault said. Avoiding phone and TV screens and meditating before bed can also aid in sleep.

Source: USA Today

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