Sleep is an essential part of our body’s cycle. We all need certain hours of sleep in a day to get our body functioning at its optimal level. As easy as it may seem, there are actually some people who find it difficult to fall asleep and snooze soundly at night.
There are several factors that can affect a person’s sleep quality and sleep-wake pattern. This can be due to temporary stresses, lifestyle constraints, and health conditions. For those who are not experiencing it at a chronic level, they resort to one effective method to help them fall asleep.
This method is by taking Melatonin supplements. This is a dietary supplement that people take to get them ample shut-eye at night. However, due to its popularity and effectiveness, people have made it a habit to rely on this solution alone. While this may be effective for many, there are still chances of a person reacting negatively to it especially when they take too much.
Can Melatonin Hurt You?
If you have been taking Melatonin as a supplement to help you sleep, then you must read on to know more about it. As you know, Melatonin is taken by people who are suffering from insomnia, interrupted sleep, or other temporary sleep problems like jet lag. So, how does it really works? And can you overdose on Melatonin? Let us delve into the details.
Our body, specifically the brain, produces Melatonin. This is a naturally occurring hormone that is in charge of regulating the body’s sleep cycle. Its varying levels during the day can affect our wake-sleep pattern, otherwise known as the Circadian Rhythm. The lower our melatonin level is, the more we become active and alert. On the other hand, high levels of Melatonin can get us feeling drowsy.
Given that fact, the goal is to keep our melatonin levels high at night so we can have longer and better sleep, until it lessens by the time we wake up. Though this hormone is naturally produced in the body, getting it from supplements can help, too.
Melatonin supplements are popular for their efficacy in helping us to fall asleep. However, as someone who is about to take or who is already taking it, it is important to consult a doctor before doing so. This is because a person can accidentally go through an overdose on Melatonin. And yes, this can be detrimental for some people especially those with pre-existing conditions.
How Do You Prevent an Overdose?
Of course, the best way to avoid getting too much Melatonin in your system is to consult a doctor before taking them. This is to make sure that you are in proper condition and free of health problems that may be aggravated by consuming this supplement.
For starters, it is recommended to always go with the lowest dose of Melatonin. If you plan to increase your intake, do it in increments of 0.5 milligram as taking in high levels might cause adverse effects to your body. For some people, a dosage of 0.3 milligram is enough to get them sleeping soundly at night.
A common mistake of users is increasing or taking in high doses of Melatonin because they do not feel sleepy right after taking it. However, this supplement is meant to be taken at least an hour before bedtime. It does not have the same effects as sleeping pills that will knock you out a few minutes after taking it. So it is important to manage your expectations and observe your body’s reaction during the first few days of consumption.
What Happens When You Overdose on Melatonin?
Since people have different tolerance and dosages for Melatonin, it is important that you understand and know your body well before taking it. It is recommended to start on low dosages and observe its effects after you take it.
Some people experience stronger wakefulness after taking it while there are those who feel extreme drowsiness. Some experience night terrors and have more vivid dreams. But generally, there are a couple of signs and symptoms of a melatonin overdose.
People who take too much Melatonin may generally experience headaches, crankiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, anxiety, or joint pains. If you have hypertension, it is important to consult with a doctor as an excessive dose can cause sudden spikes in your blood pressure.
How Much Melatonin Should You Take?
A common question among melatonin enthusiasts and users would be the recommended dosage for Melatonin. It is important that you understand that the dosage will vary from person to person. There are a couple of factors that affect the amount of Melatonin you need. But to give you a guideline, read on the following information.
Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Adults
There is no specific dosage recommended for Melatonin intake as this vary according to a person’s weight, age, existing health conditions, sensitivity to the supplement, and more. It is certain that only a professional can give you proper instructions on how to take Melatonin as they will get all the necessary information first before they give you the green light.
However, since this is one of those over-the-counter drugs, it is recommended to start and stay in the range of 0.2 to 0.5 milligram. A first-timer should begin with the lowest dose and progress only in increments of 0.3 milligram. This is to ensure that they manage its effects on their body.
If you have achieved the aid you need in sleeping at the lowest dose or a few steps higher than the initial dose of melatonin, you can stop there. Taking too much Melatonin may cause unwanted side effects or symptoms mentioned above.
Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Children
If your child has trouble sleeping and you plan to give melatonin supplements, it is very important to have a pediatrician check on him first. In some instances, pediatricians allow the use of Melatonin but only to kids who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders or ADHD.
Pediatricians will be examining your child before allowing them to take Melatonin. This is because sleep-related issues in children are not usually that grave and are still manageable by simple lifestyle modifications or improvement in their sleep hygiene.
However, those who are to take it should start with the lowest dosage. A dose of 0.5 milligram or 1 milligram usually does the trick when taken an hour or two before bedtime. Pediatricians may allow some children to take in as much as 3 to 6 milligrams. However, this only applies to special cases such as those with extreme insomnia.
An excessive dose of melatonin for kids can also lead to some unwanted side effects and serious conditions. So make sure to watch the dosage and take note of their responses to the supplement. Most importantly, always consult with a pediatrician before making any changes to their intake.
How Does Melatonin Interact with Other Substances?
Taking Melatonin requires a lot of knowledge and precaution especially when you are consuming other substances. Here are a couple of Melatonin interactions that you should be careful with.
Anticoagulants and Blood Thinners
Those who have blood clotting problems are required to take anticoagulants and blood thinners. These people should talk to their doctor about Melatonin intake because the supplement may heighten their risk of bleeding.
Birth Control Pills
Women who are taking birth control pills should confide with their doctors about their Melatonin intake. This is because oral contraceptives have the effect of producing more melatonin in the body. Hence, an additional amount may elevate their existing Melatonin levels and may lead to overdose reactions.
Medications for Seizure, Diabetes, Blood Pressure
People who are taking medications for blood pressure regulation, diabetes, and seizures should talk to their doctors about it. Melatonin taken along with these prescription drugs may lessen their effects and aggravate their existing conditions.
Those taking Melatonin should not consume other substances that make them feel sedated. A few examples would be anti-anxiety medications, painkillers, or even alcoholic drinks. It is not recommended to mix those as it may have detrimental side effects to your body.
When to Consult with a Doctor
If you feel sudden chest pains, shortness of breath, or signs of high blood pressure after taking the supplement, make sure to call your doctor or any emergency health service immediately. These may actually be signs of toxicity, overdose, or adverse effects from Melatonin.
As for those who feel one or some of the unpleasant side effects mentioned earlier, it is important to discuss those with your doctor. Overdose on melatonin, if left untreated, may lead to life-threatening conditions.
Melatonin Overdose Treatment
The approaches one can take to treat an overdose depends on a couple of factors. If you consult with your doctor because of an overdose on melatonin, they will have to assess the severity of the symptoms you have. If you are having medical emergencies such as chest pains or breathing difficulty, they may subject you to more complicated medical interventions. However, subtle side effects are managed by lowering the dosage or eliminating it completely. Your doctor can help you taper down and get off melatonin use gradually.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to sleep better. After all, we get all the energy, repair, and rehabilitation we need from it. Taking supplements is not bad, too. People who turn to Melatonin supplements to improve their quality of sleep can maximize all its benefits as long as they remain responsible throughout its usage.
Can you overdose on Melatonin? Let’s face it, along with the benefits Melatonin gives some health risks that we should be aware of. The importance of consulting with a doctor cannot be emphasized enough as this plays a critical role in keeping your health protected and in its best state while using the supplement.
If you happen to be alright with taking this supplement without a doctor’s supervision, at least try to stick to the given guidelines. Be keen with the dosage you are to start with, the same applies whenever you decide to increase your dose. Always remember to put safety above anything.