Sleeping pills contain melatonin that helps us to sleep. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine in 2016, 23% of people taking melatonin actually have excess drug consumption. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps us to sleep on time. Melatonin supplements are easily available in chemist shops and people consume it whenever they are not able to sleep. Melatonin supplements can spike your blood levels for 12 hours in the night which could be threatening to your health. Here is what the doctor advises.
Should you take Melatonin without Prescription?
The melatonin supplements or sleeping pills are taken by people at random. Dr. Vikas Maurya, Director and Head, Pulmonology and Sleep Disorder, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, does not advise anyone to take melatonin supplement without doctor prescription. He also says not to increase or decrease the dosage of drug without asking the doctor. Melatonin pills are synthetic chemical composition which acts the same as hormones. But it should not be used as an over the counter (OTC) medicine or supplement as it is a hormone. The patients are given sleeping pills only when they are going through some health conditions or disorders.
He said that the melatonin pills available are not very healthy. Especially in India, where many supplements are not passed through standard qualification, they can have adverse effects on your sleep and health. Dr. Maurya says that a number of people also consume melatonin to tackle jet lag. It should not be used as the first line of treatment, you should only take these supplements, when the problem becomes unbearable.
What is the Correct Dosage for Melatonin?
According to the US-based National Sleep Foundation, the correct dosage, method and time of taking the supplement to avoid negative effects on your health. The correct dosage of melatonin should be from 2mg to maximum 10mg. Children till the age of 12 years should not take melatonin above 3mg per day. For adults, the regular dosage which is permitted by doctors in case of serious sleep disorder is 6mg for 3-6 months.
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reveals that actual melatonin content present in supplements varied drastically from -83% to +478% of the labeled amount. The worst part is the content of the same product varied by as much as 465%, which could be deadly in some cases.
The most variable sample of a chewable tablet contained 9 mg of melatonin, which was originally supposed to have just 1.5mg.
Side-Effects of Sleeping Pills
If you take these sleeping pills without prescription or in excessive amounts, you can have the following side-effects on your health.
- Abdominal cramps
- Confusion and disorientation
- Abnormally low pressure
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