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Melatonin, Sleep & Back Pain: What You Need to Know

January 10, 2018
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Sleeping with back pain is hard. Yes, there are several prescription sleep aid medications, however, more times than not, the drug's side effects outweigh any positive sleep improvements. Maybe you're looking for a more holistic approach to sleep management?

The online sleeping specialists suggest that one of the best natural sleep aid is melatonin — a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Does it hold up?

What is Melatonin and How Does it Work?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland. It signals to your body that it’s night and to prepare for rest. It doesn’t make you sleep, but it puts the body in a restful state. The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) releases melatonin at night as levels rise. The body produces 10 times as much melatonin in the evening as it does throughout the day.

What Does Natural Melatonin Do in My Body?

Your body was born with an internal clock that manages the natural series of sleeping and waking. Your body's natural clock also manages how much melatonin your body will produce. Ordinarily, melatonin levels in your blood will remain elevated for roughly 12 hours — spanning from the night up until your first sight of daylight when the levels decrease.

Struggling to fall asleep.

Light plays a role in how much melatonin your body will produce. Throughout the shorter (and colder) days of winter, your body's natural melatonin system may produce it earlier or later in the day than normal. This shift can turn into to symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression.

In addition, natural melatonin levels may slowly decline as you age. For many older adults, you may be producing smaller amounts of melatonin or none at all.

Why Should I Take Melatonin for Sleeping Problems?

You want to ensure you're following all the instructions on the product label when taking this supplement. Don't consume more or less than is recommended by your pharmacist or medical professionals. A typical dose for treating insomnia is 3 milligrams (mg) to 5 mg of melatonin at bedtime. In more severe cases, 10 mg may be recommended.

Normally, melatonin is consumed on an as-needed basis, therefore, you may not be on a dosing schedule. However, different back and spine conditions, as well as people of different ages, will require varying dosages of melatonin. Nevertheless, you want to consume the lowest dose when you first begin taking melatonin. 

Sleeping after taking melatonin.

In addition, these natural supplements can also be employed to treat jet lag as well as sleep problems including insomnia.

Researchers are now studying other positive uses for melatonin, including:

  • Treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Helping to control sleep patterns for people who work night shifts.
  • Preventing or reducing problems with sleeping especially after surgery.
  • Reducing chronic cluster headaches.

Is Taking a Melatonin Dietary Supplement Safe?

Melatonin is safe —if taken correctly in low doses for short and long-term uses. There are warnings though. Children and pregnant or women who are nursing shouldn't take melatonin — without talking to your doctor first.

Before adding melatonin to your nighttime routine, share with your healthcare provider, if you have any of the following medical conditions:

Melatonin also has side effects, however, they will go away when you stop taking it. Those side effects may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Lower body temperature
  • Vivid dreams
  • Morning grogginess
  • Small changes in blood pressure

Taking melatonin for back pain.

Too much melatonin at one time may also cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or irritability. Melatonin may increase immune function and may interfere with certain immunosuppressive drugs, therefore, before you begin taking melatonin, you'll want to talk to a doctor or specialist.

Where Can I Purchase a Melatonin Supplement?

In locations such as the U.K., you actually need a doctor's prescription to buy melatonin. Only in the U.S. is melatonin available for over-the-counter use as a dietary supplement.

So if you're a U.S. resident, you can purchase melatonin without a prescription at various health food stores, drugstores, or even online.

This evening when you begin your nighttime routine, brush your teeth as normal, put on your winter pajamas, and climb into your nighttime throne actually ready for bed.

If you're tired of tossing and turning, you may want to consider melatonin.

Last change: January 10, 2018
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