Many people rely on melatonin gummies to help them get a good night's sleep. But a recent study finds that these over-the-counter supplements may not reliably contain the advertised amount of melatonin.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 19% of adults in the U.S. don't get enough sleep, and some of those sleep-deprived people use melatonin supplements to help them catch some z's.
Dr. Erik St. Louis, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says melatonin gummies and supplements can be effective for people with sleep issues.
"Melatonin, in general, can help with sleep problems, especially when there's a problem with insomnia, which is trouble falling and/or staying asleep," he says.
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Dr. St. Louis says melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the brain and helps to regulate the body's sleep rhythm.
"Melatonin is sometimes known as the hormone of darkness. So, when it's secreted naturally by the body, it tends to peak in the hours before sleep and exert sleep-promoting effects," he explains.
The hormone signals to the brain and body that it's time to sleep and helps to set the daily circadian rhythm. However, there are some mild risks to using melatonin supplements.
"Side effects of melatonin supplements can include headache, dizziness, nausea and persisting sedation carrying over to the next morning if too high a dose is taken for an individual," says Dr. St. Louis.
If you're considering taking melatonin gummies or a supplement to help you sleep, it's a good idea to talk with your health care professional first.