A recent JAMA Network report questions the safety of melatonin gummies, but is there a role for melatonin in managing insomnia?
I think the problem with melatonin is that it is effective and is a competitor for prescription medicine.
I am 83 and live in a retirement community. Doctors here tell me that medications often act differently in the elderly. For example, I took Tylenol PM for insomnia and found that the antihistamine in it made me exteremely fatigued. So I started taking small doses of melatonin--1.25 mg--every night. Soon I noticed that I was brain-fogged the next morning, and day by day the fog kept lasting longer. One evening, as I was on the way to a restaurant dinner and was thinking about the day's events, I realized some of the events were actually from my dreams the night before and hadn't really happened. When I got to the restaurant table, I looked at the menu and wondered, "What is this for?" I must have stared at it for 15 seconds before I remembered what it was and that I was supposed to select my meal items from it.
I do not have Alzheimers or any kind of dementia, so this frightened me. I was completely back to normal the next day. I’ll never take melatonin again.
I have taken some sleep aides as I've gotten older, and have settled on Melatonin, since I don't need a prescription, and it's definitely effective. If I don't take anything, I might lay there for an hour waiting to fall asleep; there have been times that I've read for several hours before getting sleepy.
However, about two years ago I think, I started using melatonin (usually something like 20-30mg), it works within about ten minutes, and I'm out like a light and as a 50-something adult, I tend to get between 6-8 hours of sleep per night. I wake up to use the restroom, and then, unless it's after 6 hours of sleep, I get right back to sleep. I rarely have any tiredness the next day, unless I end up on the lower end of the sleep scale (5-6 hours instead of 8).
I used to take melatonin every night, and assumed, since it was a natural hormone and present in breast milk, that the suggested doses were just that, a suggestion. Instead of 2 a night, I took 3, sometimes 4. 15-20mg.
I one day realized I was in a waking dream. I couldn't think straight, or even remember which details were real and which were imagined.
I stopped taking melatonin. I saw that the label says to stop taking after 9 months of regular use.
I started taking melatonin when menopause symptoms started to disrupt my sleep so much that I rarely had a decent night sleep. I have always had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep but I had learned to work with it. Menopause threw me a loop. Melatonin helps me fall asleep so when I wake up every 2 hours, I seem to fall back asleep faster. I believe this effect is purely a placebo affect but it works for me. I take the smallest dose available - usually 3mg.
I've found self-hypnosis to be the most effective non-dangerous-drug solution for me, along with the CBT practices, like giving up after 30 minutes or so of lying in bed and trying again later.