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Finally Catching Zzzs: How Melatonin Can Help Get Rid Of Your Insomnia

by Stella Robinson

You're tossing and turning at night…again. You've tried all the chamomile tea in the world, along with soothing ocean sounds and lavender compresses, but they don't seem to be doing anything to improve your chances of getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. What's left to try, beyond begging sleeping pills from your doctor? If you're an insomniac dreading the prospect of another sleepless night but don't want prescription drugs, then here's what trying a melatonin supplement can do for you.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone your body (your pineal gland, to be specific) naturally produces. It controls your internal clock – that part of your brain that regulates your sleep/wake cycles, helping you to stay awake in the daytime and get to sleep when nighttime comes around. Melatonin works through light exposure; lots of light signals to your brain that it's daytime and that you need to stay awake, while a lack of light for a prolonged period of time tells your brain to start making lots and lots of melatonin, because it's just about time for you to go to sleep.

How should melatonin be taken?

Melatonin supplements are available at any supermarket you have around you – but if you look in the "M"s, you'll find many different forms it can be taken in. Three popular forms of melatonin are pill, dissolvable tablet, and gummy. The pill form is usually white, and most often is seen typical mg doses (1-3mg). These pills are taken with some sort of liquid, like most other pills, and are generally small. Dissolvable tablets, often flavored with fruit flavoring like grape or strawberry, are a good option for those who have a hard time taking pills. For those who dislike tablets or just simply like gummy things, the gummy melatonin is a good option, and is also usually flavored with fruit.

Are there any harmful side effects to melatonin?

As melatonin is a hormone produced by your own body, it's easy to see why melatonin is considered mostly safe for adults. Make sure not to use melatonin if you're intending to drive a car or otherwise operate heavy machinery in the next few hours, but as long as you're responsible, you should be fine. A word of caution: no harmful side effects to melatonin use have been found, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consult with your doctor like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D. and let them know if you're using or want to start using a melatonin supplement.