About 1 out of every 3 people has problems sleeping. There are many possible causes: stress and worry,
breathing difficulties, illness, menopause, depression, shift work, jet lag, and poor sleep habits. Many people
seek relief by taking melatonin pills.
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain, and it is the main hormone in the body that
controls our normal sleep–wake cycle. Because of this function, you might expect that taking extra melatonin
will help you sleep better. Based on the research that has been done so far, however, melatonin does not
appear to help people fall or stay asleep and does not prevent sleep disruption from travel or shift work.
So, instead of reaching for the melatonin, here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation to help you
• Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day
• Have a relaxing bedtime routine
• Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable
• Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
• Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex
• Finish eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
• Get regular exercise
• Stay away from nicotine (tobacco) and caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime
• Do not drink alcohol close to bedtime
• If you still have problems sleeping, keep a sleep diary and talk to your doctor
Use sleeping pills only as a last resort. Although TV ads promise a great sleep with no problems, all sleeping
pills carry some side effects. They should not be taken with some medicines or with alcohol, they can lose
their effect after a while, and they carry a risk of dependency. Sleeping pills are best used for short-term prob-
lems; their use should be monitored by your doctor.
Chronic loss of sleep affects your health and can cause other medical problems. It is important to talk with
your doctor if you continue to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Does Melatonin Help With Sleep Problems?
CLINICAL INQUIRIES: PATIENT EDUCATION
Information you can trust. Information you can use.
Based on the Cl