Melatonin use is on the rise

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that an increasing number of Americans are using over-the-counter melatonin supplements to try to get more sleep.

The study found that the amount of melatonin taken by Americans more than doubled between 2008 and 2018, and some melatonin users take dangerously high amounts for long periods of time, which can lead to problems such as headaches. head, dizziness, confusion, irritability and depression.

Sleep experts worry that the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased people’s addiction to sleeping pills, such as melatonin.

The National Institutes for Health say that occasional use of the recommended 5 milligram dose of melatonin is okay, but high levels have been linked to dementia, early death, and other health problems.

Sleep experts also say that melatonin works best for the short-term treatment of so-called circadian rhythm misalignment, such as jet lag.

Here are six sleep strategies to use instead of Lori Neeleman, PhD, clinical psychologist at Intermountain Health Care:

1. Create a restful environment. Create an ideal room for sleeping.

“It often means dark, cool and calm,” Dr. Neeleman said. “It also means doing soothing activities before bedtime, like taking a bath or using relaxation techniques to promote better sleep.”

2. At bedtime, turn off all lights and electronics. This includes television, telephone and computer screens. Melatonin, the natural hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is inhibited by light, but as night falls it circulates more widely, causing drowsiness.

“Small amounts of light can disrupt our sleep-wake cycle, so don’t underestimate the impact lights from electronics have on your ability to sleep well,” Dr. Neeleman said.

3. Be consistent and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day and don’t change your schedule on weekends. Dr. Neeleman suggests that if you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing like reading a book or listening to soothing music. When you are tired, go back to bed.

4. Get up as soon as you hear the alarm. “It can be tempting to stay under the warm covers, but don’t hit the snooze button and stress yourself out anticipating the next time the alarm will go off,” Dr. Neeleman said. “Have. Get up and turn on a light to send a signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up.

5. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, but Dr. Neeleman suggests avoiding being active too close to bedtime.

6. Watch what you eat and drink. Do not eat large meals before bedtime.

“If you feel hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack,” Dr. Neeleman said. “Also avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol just before bedtime.” It’s also a good idea to reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Remember that in times of stress, sleep is often temporarily interrupted, but will return to normal over time. If you’re having a lot of distress about your sleep, talk to your medical or mental health provider.