The last treatment option is melatonin. This natural hormone is made by the body’s pineal gland and is more effective for circadian rhythm disorders (DPSD, jet lag) than it is for insomnia. When the sun goes down, the pineal gland becomes active and begins to naturally produce melatonin. Commonly sold in health food and drug stores, melatonin is an over-the-counter dietary aid that is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, listed doses and ingredients aren’t always completely accurate. Try using a brand you trust.
Although it is naturally found in our bodies, over the counter melatonin does have some side effects including daytime sleepiness, confusion, abdominal pain, nightmares, sleepwalking, and dizziness. It can also have a negative interaction with certain medications such as diabetes medicines, immunosuppressants, birth control pills and blood thinners.
Melatonin can be a very effective treatment for DSPD, but patients should seek the help of a sleep specialist to figure out the proper dose and timing of administration. Smaller doses (0.5 milligrams) are typically given earlier in the evening to help gently pull your circadian drive earlier, over time leading to earlier natural bed and wake times.
In sum, if you’re someone who enjoys being a night owl and it doesn’t interfere with your life overall, there’s no problem. But, if you find you can’t fall asleep late and have trouble getting to that 9am meeting on a regular basis, you might want to see if there’s a treatment that can help.
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