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Trouble Sleeping? Melatonin May Not Be the Answer

Data from Statistics Canada suggests that the number of Canadians who suffer from insomnia has increased dramatically since 2007. Many people with trouble sleeping turn to natural sleep aids such as melatonin, an over-the-counter supplement and natural sleep hormone. But experts are warning about unwanted consequences.

Between 2007 and 2015, it was found that symptoms of insomnia increased by 42 per cent, according to 2018 data released by Statistics Canada. Lack of sleep or repeated nights of tossing and turning can lead to numerous health risks like obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. That’s why taking melatonin has become the go to aid in helping people fall asleep.

According to CTV News, experts have said that while it is effective to help fall, and stay, asleep, it comes with risks and should be taken under certain specific circumstances. “If you’re jet-lagged, if you have to work a night shift or if you’re getting older” are some of those circumstances, says Lauren Friedman, health editor of Consumer Reports. Friedman also advised that if you choose to take melatonin, start with small doses of 0.2 milligrams but never go over 10 milligrams. Unlike prescription and over-the-counter drugs, many supplements like melatonin are unregulated. Accordingly, there is limited data on the effects of long-term melatonin use, but some studies suggest the supplement can cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness.

As always, experts advise that you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking natural supplements.