Can Melatonin Help You Sleep Better?

Can Melatonin Help You Sleep Better?

If you're expecting a child, you might find it difficult to get a good night's rest. According to studies, between 46 percent and 78 percent of pregnant women have trouble sleeping. Eighty percent of pregnant women have trouble sleeping by the third trimester. Of course, it stands to reason that many women who struggle with poor sleep would like to find solutions to alleviate their symptoms.

The brain produces melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep, naturally. If a pregnant woman is having trouble sleeping, she may be wondering about taking a melatonin supplement, which is commonly promoted as a sleep aid. Research on melatonin and pregnancy has shown some promising results, so it's worth learning more about this supplement and other methods for getting better sleep while pregnant.

What is Melatonin?

The  naturally-occurring hormone melatonin is released by the brain in reaction to the onset of nighttime. It aids in the regulation of one's sleep-wake cycle called circadian rhythms or the body's 24-hour clock). Exposure to light at night can prevent the body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin. Several studies have shown that melatonin has functions in the body besides inducing sleep. 

Dietary supplements containing melatonin can be synthesized or derived from animals or microbes.They’re available as an over-the-counter supplement, and although these medications are quite helpful, many women who have trouble sleeping also ask about the possibility of using “natural” supplements like melatonin capsules. 

How Does Melatonin Work in the Body?

The tiny pineal gland in your brain is responsible for producing the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. The pineal gland has a role in hormone production. Studies demonstrate that melatonin works to synchronize circadian rhythms in different sections of your body, which is probably its most important effect in humans. 

Changes in physiology, psychology, and behavior are all subject to a daily cycle called the circadian rhythm. The sleep-wake cycle is the most prominent and well-known example of these circadian rhythms. Light and dark are the primary stimuli for these natural processes. The pineal gland produces the most melatonin at night and very little during the day. There is much more regarding melatonin and its effects on the body that has to be discovered by researchers and academics. Melatonin's primary physiological effects are related to its regulation of the circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle.

The drop in melatonin levels that occurs during pregnancy can make it difficult to get to sleep. Many expectant mothers find that using melatonin supplements help them sleep through the night. There's a number of products in the market that have melatonin such as sleep aids and dietary supplements. 

Can Pregnant Women Take Melatonin Supplements?

That’s actually a question you’d like to ask your OB-GYN. As with all of our posts and guides, we implore you to seek medical advice from a medical practitioner who knows your medical history, especially since synthetic melatonin is not formally FDA-approved for any applications or conditions because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements. 

The safety of melatonin supplementation during pregnancy has not been established at this time. Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep problem among pregnant women, yet melatonin is not recommended for this condition. Instead, melatonin has proven effective in treating jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, various sleep disorders in children, and surgical anxiety.

Research indicates that some products contain less melatonin than it advertises. It also means that the concentration may be far higher than stated on the label, which may cause undesirable effects. In one investigation, researchers discovered that the actual melatonin concentration of 31 pills varied from 83% below to 478% above the label claim! 

Taking supplements might not be good for pregnant women who do not have a documented medical condition linked to low melatonin levels. During pregnancy, melatonin levels tend to increase on their own. Too much melatonin in the body is a possible side effect of taking melatonin supplements at this time.

Neither the safety of melatonin during pregnancy nor a recommended dosage have been established, making it difficult to self-administer. A supplemental dose of melatonin during pregnancy was associated with lower body mass indexes in mothers, smaller birth weights in infants, and an increased risk of infant mortality in one animal study.

The Benefits of Pregnant Women Taking Melatonin Supplements

We’ve mentioned that Melatonin may not be the right dietary supplement for you. But could there be benefits to taking Melatonin supplements for pregnant women? Here’s what we found out.

  • Injecting pregnant mice with melatonin in 2015 suggested that it could lower the likelihood of neural tube defects.
  • There is some evidence from multiple studies suggesting that short-term melatonin use can lessen the incidence of pregnancy problems, according to a review published in 2011.
  • There is speculation amongst researchers that melatonin supplementation may enhance the success of IVF and other forms of assisted reproduction technology. Even so, more study is obviously required.
  • A 2014 analysis concluded that melatonin may protect fetal brain development, however the authors did not advocate taking it during pregnancy due to a lack of data on its safety.

Final Words: Should You Take a Melatonin Supplement While Pregnant?

Obstacles to restful sleep during pregnancy are common and can disrupt a woman's health, happiness, relationships, and mental clarity. Although melatonin has been shown to help with sleep, there is not enough evidence to recommend taking it regularly while pregnant. Melatonin has not been confirmed safe for usage during pregnancy, but studies have also not consistently identified evidence of any particular dangers. 

If you’re unsure about taking melatonin supplements and your doctor advises you against taking them, you can always turn to other options such as lifestyle check (that TV in your room might have to be transferred elsewhere in the house), or getting sleep aids such as a maternity pillow to help you sleep better. We also found out that non-pregnant people have used these awesome pillows to find the most comfortable sleeping positions!
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