Posted by: Zebra | 2004/11/08


Clarification please. I have been suffering from sleep / rest deprivation for a few months now and am becoming quite desperate. I have had small bouts of insomnia (a while ago) but now have got to stage where even when I do sleep, I am not resting at all. My sleep patterns are so thrown out of kilter, I don't have a sleep pattern! I do not at all believe in sleeping tablets even herbal ones. I am not a 'pill' person. I do not drink coffee in the evening, drink alcohol during the week, drink fizzy drinks, but I do smoke. This lack of rest is starting to affect me quite badly. I am irritable, constantly tired, forgetful and not in a good state for work or social.

I bought Melatonin pills from a health shop when I described my problem to the assistant. They said that melatonin was the 'sleep
chemical' that the brain produces for sleeping. What is melatonin exactly, how is it produced, what does it contain (the indications merely state 30 mgs melatonin) and what side effects does melatonin have? In other words, is it potentially safe and non habit forming and is it effective? I do not take any medication, do not have any prescriptions, am rarely ill and am very wary about becoming dependant on anything artificial (apart from the dreaded smoking).

Please assist.

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Our expert says:
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Zebra, how can you say you don’t believe in pills, but then take melatonin pills that haven’t been tested as extensively as conventional drugs? Trying to figure it out is probably going to keep me awake tonight. :-)
Anyway, melatonin is a hormone made in the pineal gland. It synthesis is controlled by external factors including sun light. It induces pigment lightening in the skin, suppresses ovarian function, may affect biological rhythms including the sleep-wake rhythm and may play a role in jet lag. As far as we know it is safe and non-addictive.
A lot of research is being done on it, but as far as I know it hasn’t been proven to be a better option yet. Good luck.

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