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Melatonin may not be as safe as you think

Tired? Can’t fall asleep at night? A Consumer Reports survey found that 80-percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with sleep at least once a week. Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with insomnia. Instead of taking a sleeping pill, millions of people reach for the dietary
supplement called melatonin.

But it’s not without risks.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that is naturally produced by the body and is also available as a popular supplement. Studies show that it can be helpful, but only for some people in certain situations, such as when they’re jet-lagged or they’re trying to sleep after working a night shift. For people 70 or older, the supplement might help because their body might not produce enough melatonin on its own.

But there are lots of other people using melatonin. Is it safe?

You should never take a dose of more than 10 mg. Take no more than .2 mg to .5 mg. Taking more than what your body produces could cause you to be sleepy and mentally or physically slow the next day. Because melatonin isn’t regulated like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, look for labels from ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, USP, or UL. They provide some peace of mind that a product contains what’s on the label.

Also, check with your doctor before starting melatonin. It can interact with blood pressure and diabetes drugs. And be aware of possible side effects. After taking melatonin, some people report dizziness or nausea, or say they’re drowsy the next day. So it’s best not to drive when using it.

Consumer Reports says there’s not enough research to know whether melatonin is safe to use for longer than three months.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.

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