One of the most common uses of melatonin is as a sleep aid. The benefits of this supplement are to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, lengthen the sleeping time, and to reduce jet lag by resetting the body to a normal sleep cycle within a different time zone. Negative side effects include feeling sleepy during the day, dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, irritability, nighttime disorientation, sleepwalking, and nightmares.
To optimize sleeping benefits, melatonin is typically taken between 30 minutes and one hour before bed. It can help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and to help people stay asleep longer than normal. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body to help maintain the sleep-wake cycle, and taking synthetic supplements can be used to trick the body into overcoming jet lag. As sunlight diminishes, the body produces more melatonin to prepare the body for sleep. When changing time zones, a person who takes the compound just a few hours before he wants to go to sleep for the first few days of a trip can help bluff the body into feeling sleepy when it would normally be awake.
Most of the problems associated with melatonin are dose related and can be alleviated by taking less. These issues are present only when the sleep aid is first started and disappear when the person stops taking the supplement. It can cause nighttime confusion, disorientation when waking up, sleepwalking, and nightmares. Problems that can occur during the day are irritability, dizziness, upset stomach, and feeling sleepy during the daytime. The best way for individuals to prevent these side effects is to start at a low dose and gradually increase the amount until the supplement becomes helpful.
The optimal dose of melatonin will maximize the benefits and minimize the side effects, but it can be difficult for people to figure out exactly how much to take. It is best for people who are considering taking this sleep aid to consult with a medical professional to get a minimum and maximum dose range, and then start at the low dose and gradually increase until a benefit is reached. A variety of concentrations are available, making it possible to gradually increase the dose. Supplements made from animals may contain viruses, so a melatonin sleep aid should only be made from synthetic ingredients.