Melatonin: is the insomniacs's panacea truly safe?

It is considered a so much safe naturale substance that it can be given the children too to make them sleep. It is the melatonin, a supplement, but also a medicine if it overweights 2mg, it is more and more often used to solve insomnia, which dogs over 9 million of Italians.

Is it really safe? Does swallowing it regularly cause collateral effects? And does the children risk?

Let's try to understand something about it. The melatonin is often presented as an hormone produced by a little gland in the brain called epiphysis: "Telling the truth - explains Luigi Ferini Strambi, president of the World Association of Sleep Medicine and executive director of the Sleep Medicine Center in the Irrcs San Raffaele Turro hospital in Milan - it isn't properly an hormone because it continues to be in our organism also if the pineal gland is absent, for example after a surgical removal". This substance production is based on the light-dark alternation and its secretion influences the sleep-wake rhythm and as a consequence its lack or shortage can lead to insomnia.

It is a good thing to explain, though, that melatonin isn't a hypnotic as the sleeping pills but only an hypo-supporter. Basically we know that melatonin is released in the dark, and it creates a sort of relaxation and it support the slide towards sleeping". Explains Ferini Strambi.

The effectiveness of melatonin in the adults on disturbs provoked by jet-lag and insomnia has been scientifically demonstrated. Its action is mostly to re-balance the sleep-wake rhythm, so it is suitable for the late sleep phase syndrome, that is to say in those people commonly called "owls", who would never go to sleep in the evening while struggle to wake up in the morning. In the jat-lag cases too because it improves both the sleep and the symptoms which appears during the day, that is to say general illness and gastrointestinal disturbs.

It i salso useful for the elderly because its secretion often decreases with the age. Moreover, we also use it for people who suffer from the sleep behaviour disturb during the Rem phase, that is to say people who during the sleep phase when commonly we are like paralized they move like they’re acting the dream.

Therefore it doesn’t have any contraindication? This isn’t totally correct. Even if the short term use by the adults is commonly considered safe, there can also be some collateral effects like as headache, dizziness, sleepiness during the day, which could represent a risk for people who have jobs in which they have to pay constantly attention like bus drivers o medicians. But actually there aren’t any studies that have demonsteated the effects of a long term treatment with melatonin.

“dRng our clinical experience” Ferini Strambi adds “we have been treating many affected by from the sleep behaviour disturb during the Rem phase handing out very high doses , even up to 10 mg, for several years and so far we haven’t come upon any collateral effect”.

In the experts opinion, people who suffer from ephatic insufficiency, pregnant women or breastfeeding women, and people who are affected by chronical allergies or immune diseases should aviod melatonin supplements.

It is a good thing to clarify that still there aren’t scientific datas on the long term use of melatonin nor on the adults nor on the children. So, if it helps you to sleep, use it quietly, without exaggerate.

Italian Source L'ultima ribattuta

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