Tags: melatonin | sleep | loss | epidemic

Melatonin: Natural Remedy for US 'Sleep-Loss Epidemic'

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By    |   Friday, 10 Nov 2017 10:12 AM

We’re not only sleepless in Seattle, we’re sleepless as a society and one expert calls this “a catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic.”

Matthew Walker, director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at the University of California-Berkeley, says that sleep deprivation “affects every aspect of our biology” and may increase the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other health problems.

According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, almost half of older Americans have trouble sleeping, and more than a third of them have taken sleeping aids. What’s even more alarming, however, is that most don’t talk to their doctor about their sleeping problems.

For some people, taking the natural hormone supplement melatonin helps recreate a natural sleep cycle. According to Dr. Tod Cooperman, founder and president of ConsumerLab.com, only a small amount of the supplement is needed to help you fall asleep.

“I would start at the lowest does possible,” he tells Newsmax Health. “It’s safe for most people — I have even given it to my children to help them fall asleep on a school night—but as with any supplement or medication, you should always check with your health care provider before taking it.”

Cooperman recommends taking a dose of 1 mg. or less about 45 minutes and using melatonin only when you need it.

“Some products we tested in our survey of melatonin supplements contain greater amounts, such as 5 or 10 mg., which may be more than you need,” he says. “There are also timed release formulations that not only help you fall asleep, but also stay asleep as well as any prescription medication.”

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain from the amino acid tryptophan. It’s known to play a role in regulating the body’s natural wake-sleep cycle called the circadian rhythm, triggering sleep.

Levels of melatonin increase as exposure to light decreases. But melatonin levels plummet as light exposure increases which is why some many folks have trouble sleeping when the time changes and the darkness sets in earlier. It’s also why sleep experts recommend not using electronic devices — iPads, smartphones, computers — or watching TV at bedtime, because they emit so-called “blue light,” which blocks the release of the hormone.

Melatonin has shown promise in helping children with chronic sleep problems, people withdrawing from sleeping medications and may improve sleep in people with diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and in those who are hospitalized.

In studies, melatonin was also shown to help women fall asleep during the three months following breast cancer surgery.

ConsumerLab tested several supplements and found that the price range varied widely for comparable products. It’s top pick was Swanson Melatonin 1 mg which cost only 2 cents per capsule. Some comparable products cost 300 times that amount, notes Cooperman.

Often a very low dose such a 0.3 mg may do the trick, says Cooperman. In that case Life Extension Melatonin offers a 300 mcg product at just 4 cents a vegetarian capsule.

If you prefer a higher dose supplement, try Walgreens Quick Dissolve Melatonin 3 mg for 4 cents per tablet. CL lists more choices for children vegan and time release formations on the organization’s Website.

Cooperman notes that while melatonin is generally considered to be safe when used on a short-term basis, potential side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness and impaired mental alertness and balance. Do not operate heavy machinery for six hours after taking the supplement.
  • Serious health risks when mixed with sedating drugs such as Ativan, Xanax, or hypnotic drugs such as Ambien.
  • Long-term use may increase your risk of fractures. Do not use, at least in high doses, after suffering a fracture.
  • Testosterone and estrogen metabolism may be affected, impairing sperm production among men in very high doses.
  • People with low blood pressure should be aware that melatonin has been reported to significantly decrease blood pressure in people without hypertension.

Cooperman notes also that melatonin’s safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women or people with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established.

“Melatonin may part of the solution to our epidemic of sleeplessness,” says Cooperman. “But we must also consider lifestyle changes to ensure a long-term solution to the problem.”

Healthy sleep habits include:

  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
  • Sleeping in a dark bedroom.
  • Getting plenty of exercise and eating healthy foods, which enhance sleep.
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon and evening.
  • Not using electronic devices right before bedtime.

© 2017 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

   
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The U.S. is experiencing what one expert calls this “a catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic,” which is fueling the death rate from cancer, heart disease, and other health problems associated with insufficient shut-eye. But the natural hormone supplement melatonin can help recreate a natural sleep cycle.
melatonin, sleep, loss, epidemic
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2017-12-10
Friday, 10 Nov 2017 10:12 AM
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