Melatonin use for sleep is on the rise, side effects may be dangerous

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New research finds that U.S. adults took twice as much melatonin for sleep in 2018 than they did a decade before. stock_colors/Getty Images
  • A good night’s sleep is essential for good physical health, cognitive performance, and emotional functioning. Numerous sleep studies have documented these facts over time.
  • More and more adults are taking over-the-counter (OTC) melatonin preparations to get a better night’s rest, but some of them may be taking this substance at dangerously high levels, a new study finds.
  • Experts worry that the coronavirus pandemic’s negative effect on sleep has further increased the reliance on melatonin and other sleeping aids.

In the recent study, researchers obtained data from ten cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), covering the years 1999 through 2018. This study included 55,021 adults, 52% of whom were women. The participants had a mean age of 47.5 years.

The results showed that in 2018, adults in the United States took more than twice the amount of this sleep aid than they did a decade earlier, which may pose a health risk in some individuals.

The study revealed that melatonin use increased from 0.4% in 1999–2000 to 2.1% in 2017–2018, with the increase beginning in 2009–2010.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the lead author is Dr. Jingen Li, Ph.D., of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

The study evaluated adults who took melatonin at the recommended dosage of 5 milligrams per day (mg/d), as well as those who exceeded that dosage. Before 2005–2006, the authors found that users did not report taking more than 5 mg/d, but the prevalence of taking more than 5 mg/d went from 0.08% in 2005–2006 to 0.28% in 2017–2018.

Although the overall use of melatonin in the U.S. is still relatively low, the study does “document a significant many-fold increase in melatonin use in the past few years,” according to sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., who is an instructor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and was not involved in this study.

Dr. Robbins told Medical News Today:

“Taking sleep aids has been linked to prospective studies with the development of dementia and early mortality. Melatonin is one such sleep aid.”

The body’s biological clock regulates hormonal fluctuations, which evolve over a person’s lifespan. As a result, aging

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Health Department: Pandemic having devastating effects on the community | Local News

It’s here. It’s real. It’s not going anywhere soon.

Some 19 months in, the coronavirus pandemic continues to result in infections, hospitalizations and lives lost. At the center of the local response is the La Crosse County Health Department, and while they understand the community is tiring of masking and distancing, the have seen the devastation of COVID-19 firsthand, and they are urging residents to take the virus seriously.






Paula Silha


“It’s been 18 months of crazy and ‘when is is this going to end?’,” says Paula Silha, health education manager at the La Crosse County Health Department (LCHD) and COVID response testing lead. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”






La Crosse County Health Department Director Audra Martine

Martine




Jacquie Cutts, nurse manager for the LCHD, says, “A lot of people are just pretending it’s not a thing anymore, and that’s just not true. And we’re concerned about how that will impact people, how it has impacted people and how it will continue to impact people. And there’s a balance there to be had. We have to find ways to live our lives. But there are ways that we can do that safely, and a lot of those ways are not being leveraged right now and there are consequences to that.

“So there are people who would be alive right now and aren’t. There are people that have really astronomically high medical bills that don’t need to have those. And what we’re trying to get across to people is the message that COVID is still with us for a while longer,” Cutts continues. “We need to to bring back some of those practices to protect people and that they should have a vested interest in doing that. So you can find a safer way to see your friends and family and recreate that doesn’t necessarily put put as many people at risk.”

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Jacquie Cutts

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In late spring, the state experienced something of a reprieve from COVID with a dip in case rates and, from mid May to early August, no coronavirus deaths, Cutts says. For a while, the CDC relayed masks were no longer essential for the vaccinated. But the delta variant proved rapidly spreading and a catalyst for breakthrough infections, and masks for all were once again strongly urged.

In August, cases started trending up again in La Crosse County, with a 60-fold increase from July to mid-August through early October.

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