Millions of Americans are plagued by poor sleep. Whether or not it comes from sleeping disorders, back pain, headaches, low-quality mattresses, the result is the same.
So, why, not try melatonin for better sleep quality?
But then the question remains, what type of melatonin supplement should you take: Melatonin spray or melatonin tablets?
What is Melatonin?
Have you ever wondered why your body starts feeling more tired as soon as it gets dark? Well, melatonin helps with that.
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces to help your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock. Your circadian rhythm helps regulate your body’s sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin helps with the rhythm by binding receptors at night, thus lowering dopamine and leading to a more relaxed body and state of mind.
In other words, melatonin helps convince your body to sleep and can help your sleep longer and more deeply. For those who don’t produce enough melatonin, have jet lag, or just have occasional trouble falling asleep, melatonin can be a great way to help reset and aid your body’s internal alarm clock, thus leading to more restful sleep.
Are There Other Uses for Melatonin?
In addition to being a sleep aid, melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are a great defender for your body, protecting and neutralizing environmental stressors.
Melatonin Spray vs. Melatonin Tablets
Two forms of the same supplement, but what are the pros and cons of each, and which is better?
Melatonin spray is the more convenient option in that it’s easy to carry around. Sprays also can have a great bioavailability, meaning that the supplement will carry out its intended purpose more quickly and effectively than other forms of melatonin.
That being said, sprays can be a little more expensive and many of them have a taste to them, which some could find undesirable. Additionally, their shelf lives are shorter than other forms of melatonin.
Melatonin tablets are the more familiar option and are easier to measure out correct dosage with. They also tend to have a longer shelf life, usually have no taste to them, and are the more inexpensive option.
However, tablets can be hard for people who have difficulty swallowing. Additionally, some tablets have delayed releases, which isn’t very helpful for timing out when you want to fall asleep, but could be helpful in helping you stay asleep.
So… Which is Better?
Between melatonin spray and melatonin tablets, the spray works faster and can have a stronger effect due to the fact that it’s absorbed so quickly. However, tablets can be an easier option due to their familiarity and lack of taste. Tablets can also be the less expensive option, but this can vary of course.
Both work and have their own pros and cons, so it’s up to you as the consumer!
Is There a Downside To Using Melatonin?
As with many supplements and medications, getting a correct dosage is very important when taking melatonin. For most adults, somewhere between 2 and 5 mg is considered safe, but this can vary greatly depending on how your body reacts to it.
Before taking melatonin, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about how melatonin could affect you.
- Daytime drowsiness
It is technically possible to overdose on melatonin as well, so making sure you have the lowest possible dosage that can still provide the effect you want is important. If you take melatonin for a week or two and see no change, you should seek additional guidance from a healthcare provider. If it does work, it’s helpful to use it for around two months and then stop taking it, so you can see if your body can sleep well without it, now in a better circadian rhythm.
Taking too much melatonin can lead to harmful reactions and even an overdose. Call poison control and 911 immediately if you or someone around you starts getting these symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Hypertension issues
Other lesser symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Heightened anxiety
- Mood changes
- Excessive drowsiness
In addition to being careful about dosage, there are some people who shouldn’t take melatonin, or should take it with extreme caution and under the instruction of a health official.
These people include:
- The Elderly
- Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers
- People who are on medications for other health issues
There are two main reasons for why someone shouldn’t take melatonin supplements or should only take it under a doctor’s orders. The first, because there isn’t enough research done on melatonin’s effects on a specific demographic and there is evidence that it could be potentially harmful to that demographic.
For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, children, and the elderly this is important to know. There aren’t enough studies to prove that melatonin does or doesn’t harm fetuses or babies so it should be avoided. For children, it isn’t recommended without guidance from a pediatrician, but some doctors choose melatonin over sedative options like antihistamines. In the case of the eldery, health officials warn that it could cause excessive drowsiness and daytime drowsiness.
The second, melatonin can interact with other medications, substances, and supplements in odd ways. These odd ways can sometimes be harmful and lead to dangerous side effects. For alcoholics and people on prescribed medications, this is extremely important to understand.
Melatonin and alcohol together can harm liver function, as well as exacerbate side effects such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, and mood changes. For people on other medications for health issues, melatonin can alter the way their medications work and in some cases, cancel the efficiency of it altogether. Asking a doctor if the supplement and medication can coexist is possible, but sometimes there isn’t enough research for a knowledgeable answer.
What Can You Do For Sleep In Addition To Taking Melatonin?
Taking melatonin is a great first step in your restful sleep journey. However, there are other things you could be doing to help aid your sleep.
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing your artificial light exposure at night (dim the lights)
- Lowering your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Reduce your blue light exposure (from TVs, phones, etc)
- Exposing yourself o natural light during the day (helps maintain low melatonin during the day so it can raise significantly at night)
- Stretching before bed
- Not eating late at night
Melatonin sprays have a higher efficiency rate and are the most convenient options. However, melatonin tablets are easier to measure out dosage, don’t have a taste, and are generally the least expensive option.
Both are great options, and there’s even more options out there, so it really depends on the user's choice. However, no matter what melatonin you take, being aware of the pros and cons of the supplement is always the smart choice.