published Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Ask a doctor: Is it safe to take melatonin or other natural supplements to help you sleep?

By Dr. James Tumlin

Q: Is it safe to take melatonin or other natural supplements to help you sleep?

A: The question about melatonin and other natural sleep medications is a common one. Melatonin is a natural sleep stimulant that is derived from the pineal gland in the brain. When we lay down to sleep, melatonin levels sharply increase. There are groups of patients who have reduced levels of melatonin, and thus the medication is used as a sleep aid for many patients. Melatonin is generally very safe; most people find relief for insomnia with a dose between 1 and 5 mg per day. There have been reports of depression and hallucinations above doses of 10 mg, and this is not recommended. If your sleep disorders continue, you should see your doctor.

— Dr. James Tumlin, Nephrology Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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