The United States, as a nation, is in the middle of a sleep crisis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in every three American adults are recording getting insufficient sleep daily.
Inadequate sleep is no joke.
Several studies from established authorities in the field show a conclusive association between sleeping less than seven hours a day and an increased risk of developing chronic medical disorders like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
The Sleep Research Society, the National Sleep Foundation, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine both agree on the recommendation that healthy adults (aged 18 or older) should sleep for up to 7 hours each night.
The available research on the subject also backs this claim, indicating that a sleep schedule of at least 7 hours each night is critical to promoting good health and optimal wellbeing levels.
The good news is that Americans are waking up to the critical nature of our hurried, anxiety-ridden, sleep-deprived state of existence.
The 2010s was the decade where mental health, wellbeing, and sleep (among other things) became significant issues on the center stage of public discourse.
Plus, with that decade culminating in a society-shifting worldwide pandemic that launched us into the new decade, there has never been a better time to focus on improving your wellbeing.
With sleep, Americans are taking matters into their hands.
A considerably dated survey by the CDC also showed that over 3 million adult Americans and about half a million children take non-prescription melatonin sleep supplements like melatonin teas, mouth sprays, and gummies.
Furthermore, these figures are unsurprisingly charted to grow significantly soon as more sleep-deprived citizens seek alternative remedies to their sleep problems. However, such a boom in demand for a line of non-prescription supplements is always a cause for concern.
Many sleep experts worry that buyers have a considerably oversimplified view of melatonin. Melatonin is a complex and potent hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating our body clock and sleep cycle, amongst other critical systems.
Nevertheless, the consensus is that melatonin, in the right dose, and taken at the right time, can help some sleepers restore their sleep schedule and cope better with circadian rhythm disorders.
Before you pop your next melatonin sleep gummy, here is everything you need to know about them.
What are Sleep Gummies?
A testament to how popular melatonin-powered sleeping aids like sleep gummies have become is how easy they are to find these days.
Check the vitamin/supplement section in the supermarket or at your local grocery store, and you are guaranteed to find these sleep aids in all its forms: tablets, gummies, liquids, sprays, and powders.
For people who have a hard time coping with the often off-putting tastes of supplements, sleep gummies present a more palatable way to get your fix. Sleep gummies are typically berry-flavored chewables that offer your dietary supplements in a tasty package.
Like other forms of sleep supplements, sleep gummies typically contain melatonin as the main active ingredient. Many brands also include L-theanine, Vitamin B6, chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, and other compounds and essential oils that can help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and encourage restful sleep.
Do Sleep Gummies Work?
With most sleep gummies, the main active ingredient is melatonin. Hence, asking if sleep gummies work for improving sleep is virtually inquiring on the efficacy of melatonin for promoting sleep onset and enhancing sleep quality.
There are no surprises that melatonin is a favorite recommendation for improving sleep as the compound is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.Read More:
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So, more does more melatonin equal more sleep? This relationship is a lot more complicated than that.
In healthy individuals, under ideal circumstances, the body typically produces enough melatonin to induce sleep without the need for any exogenous supplementation.
However, in today’s fast-paced, always lit, and always online world, it is no surprise that people often end up with varying production levels of the hormone.
In situations like this, where our light exposure exceeds what is typical, taking exogenous melatonin to supplement the inadequate natural production sounds like a no brainer. But does it work?
A landmark review of melatonin’s influence on sleep found that those study participants who took some form of melatonin supplementation before bedtime slept on average 13 minutes longer and fell asleep 3.9 minutes faster than the participant who didn’t.
This report drew its data from 15 studies that pooled results from observing a total of 284 subjects.
Furthermore, several more recent studies confirm this observation, reporting slight increases in general sleep quality metrics, albeit posting different time gains.
Nevertheless, a common trend across all the studies in question is that none of them reported a dramatic increase in sleep time or improvement in sleep onset. While falling asleep 7 minutes faster is excellent, and more sleep is almost always better (even if it’s only a few extra minutes,) none of these studies report a life-changing improvement in sleep quality from taking melatonin.
For people with winter depression from shorter days and their changing circadian rhythms, microdoses of melatonin (0.3-0.5mg) can bring much-needed respite. However, like with other supplement use, check with your doctor before adopting this lifestyle fix.
Hence, while dietary supplement manufacturers continue to market melatonin as the end-all for improving sleep, the results may not be as significant as the marketing prints will like you to believe.
However, don’t take that assertion as implying that melatonin supplements are no good. There are several cases where melatonin supplementation can exert considerable influences on the sleep quality of users.
In situations where the body’s natural melatonin production process is impaired by a medical problem or a sleep disorder, exogenous melatonin can effectively supplement the hormone deficiency and correct the mismatch in sleep onset times that may occur.
Several studies like this one on participants combatting hospital delirium, another on subjects recovering from laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and others concerning issues like traumatic brain injury, hypertension, neurodevelopmental disorder, breast cancer, all show varying levels of efficacy of melatonin supplementation for improving sleep in people with several problems.
Experts also generally agree that melatonin supplements can positively impact circadian rhythm disorders like advanced sleep phase disorder, shift work disorder, and delayed sleep phase disorder.
In these situations, the body’s melatonin production process goes off-kilter and creates a mismatch between sleep onset and recommended sleep times.
Here, melatonin supplements can often offer an excellent way to help induce a more regular sleep cycle.
So, does melatonin work for improving sleep? The short answer is it depends.
Depending on your health levels and the presence of any underlying conditions, your melatonin production levels can vary significantly. As such, exogenous melatonin intake may exert a considerable impact on your sleep quality.
However, even for 100% healthy individuals, melatonin intake can sometimes profoundly impact sleep.
According to Alfred Lewy, MD, a pioneer in melatonin research and a professor emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University, even in healthy individuals, a large dose of melatonin (around 1-3mg) will boost sleep quality considerably in at least a third of people who take it.
The researcher speculates that some people are naturally predisposed to gaining benefits from melatonin intake, while others aren’t.
However, for most people, a low dosage of the hormone will have minimal to no impact.
Due to our physiological differences, melatonin will improve sleep in some people but not in others. You may have to try the supplement (a large dose of at least 1-3mg) to see if it works for you.
Some medical conditions, sleep disorders, and circadian rhythm issues can also significantly increase the chance that melatonin will work for you.
Can You Take Melatonin Sleep Gummies Every Night?
Even if you take melatonin supplements every night, as long as you are taking a relatively mild dose, the chance that you will encounter any side effects is relatively low.
However, research into the long-term effect of daily melatonin use is still extremely limited, so you may want to apply caution before adding it to your lifestyle on a long-term basis.
Plus, while mild melatonin use is safe for most children, some experts harbor concerns that long-term melatonin use in developing children may lead to delayed puberty onset. The general melatonin levels in the body naturally drop at the start of puberty.
Are Sleep Gummies Safe?
Dietary supplements are the wild west of the drug market, and melatonin-powered sleep gummies are no exception.
In the United States, dietary supplements like melatonin are considerably less regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than other over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs. Herein lies a problem.
This lack of regulation in the industry means that product quality can range significantly across and even within brands. One recent study sampled melatonin supplement brands from pharmacies and grocery stores to find that as much as 71% of the supplements wrongly labeled the amount of melatonin contained in the bottle.
Furthermore, the disparity was of no small measure. The researchers found that the variance in the label and content discrepancy varied in a broad range of −83% to +478%, with some products reporting similar variance levels within the same brand.
Many of these bottles also contained serotonin, another powerful hormone and a controlled substance in its exogenous form.
Hence, the first primary safety concern when using sleep gummies, other forms of melatonin supplements, and even dietary supplements, in general, is ensuring the bottle contains what it claims to do.
A good fix for this issue is that you take special care when choosing your supplements to ensure you pick a brand that employs the strictest measures in the manufacturing process. You also want to stick to lower doses for safety, as many brands could already be overshooting with their product contents.
Sleep gummies typically contain a considerable amount of sugar or some other sweetener. Hence, if you have a stringent diet or lifestyle that demands low sugar intake, you may want to skip sleep gummies altogether.
Olly Restful sleep, the most popular sleep gummy brand, packs two grams of sugar in each daily serving.
Next, there is also the problem of the limited research into the effects on long term use of melatonin supplements.
Many experts think that short-term use (a couple of months) of melatonin as a corrective aid for our circadian rhythm and sleep cycle is safe in healthy adults. However, there is minimal research available that addresses the safety of using the drug over extended periods.
Hence, the best practice for maximum safety is to keep periods of consistent melatonin supplementation to under three months until more concrete information is available on the topic.
Yet, another primary safety concern with melatonin use is its potential interaction with other forms of medication. Melatonin intake can reduce the effectiveness of seizure medications, high blood pressure medication, and birth control pills. Melatonin supplements can also temporarily boost blood sugar and impair insulin secretion, which can constitute severe problems for people with diabetes.
Despite many reservations on unrestricted melatonin use, we believe that this supplement still represents one of the best and safest methods you can try to reset your body clock.
Provided you keep your doses low, do not use them for extended periods, and don’t otherwise go overboard with your usage of the supplement, you should be fine. However, when in doubt, consult with your healthcare practitioner.
For long term usage of melatonin supplements or the intake of higher doses than you can find naturally in the body, there is a shortage of scientific literature addressing potential issues and side effects. Hence, for safety reasons, you should avoid these forms of intake.
Melatonin-containing sleep gummies may induce drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery, drive, or consume alcohol while using these gummies.
Safe for Children?
With children, melatonin sleep gummies use is a whole different story.
Records from the American Association of Poison Control Centers show a 114% spike in poisoning report calls involving melatonin since 2012. The majority of the calls in recent times involves children, which is a very troubling fact.
Excessive melatonin intake by children can lead to side effects like diarrhea, nausea, daytime sleepiness, bedwetting, and headaches. And with sweet-tasting gummies, overdose in children is a real cause for concern.
Even with measured doses, experts are unsure of the effect of melatonin use on children and the chance of incurring harm. To date, there is no available research on the impact of melatonin on children.
Hence, we recommend that you avoid putting your children on melatonin supplements except under the express recommendation of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
When you consider the limited knowledge on the long term effects of melatonin use and the fact that the sleep boosting effects it brings is minimal, it is hard to justify risking your healthy child’s safety and proper development for such small gains.
Nevertheless, several studies show positive results in the use of melatonin supplements like sleep gummies with children with specific disorders. In many of these use cases, the risk-reward ratio can make much more sense.
Is There an Age Requirement for Taking Sleep Gummies?
While there is no official recommended age limit for melatonin intake, experts agree that children under three shouldn’t consume melatonin. Any sleep problems they have at this age are most likely behavioral or related to a more severe underlying condition.
Many sleep gummy brands place an age recommendation of around 12 years or older on their product. We concur. With melatonin sleep supplements, the older the sleeper, the better.
With melatonin-containing supplements, you should take the age recommendations on the product seriously, as an excessive intake of melatonin in younger people can bring a host of unwanted side effects. This warning is especially true with gummy options like Sugar Bear Sleep Vitamins. With Sugar Bear, you get a massive 6mg dose of melatonin in each serving.
If you must give melatonin supplements to young children, consider opting for a brand like Olly Kid Sleep. The manufacturer recommends this product for kids aged four or older, and each serving contains only 0.5mg of melatonin.
Where to Buy Sleep Gummies
Amazon: Amazon is the home of all shopping online, which is true even for dietary supplements. You will find an abundance of legit, certified melatonin sleep gummies from all of the top manufacturers at the most affordable prices you will find anywhere on their platform.
iHerb: iHerb is one of the top locations for natural products on the web. Here, you can find sleep gummies from all of the most reputable national brands. iHerb brings assurance of authenticity and a global system geared towards the sustainability of the planet.
Walgreens: is the second-largest pharmacy chain in the country, second only to CVS Health and one of the best at offering affordable prices. Get melatonin sleep gummies here at a considerable discount.
Product Recommendation: Olly’s Restful Sleep Gummies
Olly is one of the most recognizable sleep gummies brands for a good reason. This brand offers one of the OG sleep gummies. Olly’s Restful Sleep Gummies has been in production since 2014; it grew to popularity rapidly, and today, it ranks as the best-selling sleep product in Target and a host of other stores.
Hence, with Olly Restful Sleep Gummies, you can rest assured that you are getting a high-end product from a top brand that optimizes their manufacturing process to give you the safest possible outcome.
In the largely unregulated world of supplements, if you seek sleep gummies that are true to the label, adhere to the strictest safety practices, and get you to sleep on time every time, Olly Restful Sleep Gummies may be your best bet.
With each package, you get 50 gummies, which adds up to a 25-day serving at two gummies per day. Each serving provides you with 3mg of melatonin as well as a combination of chamomile, lemon balm, L-theanine, and passionflower.More to know:
The Best Alternatives to Sleep Gummies
The best alternatives to sleep gummies are other melatonin supplements like tablets, liquids, sprays, and powders. These other form factors present different convenient ways to take melatonin.
Are you unwilling to make the jump to ingesting an exogenous hormone? CBD gummies can provide a more attractive alternative. Cannabidiol (CBD) is excellent for dealing with anxiety and insomnia and is a great, risk-free way to promote better sleep.
More to know:
Like with melatonin sleep gummies, CBD products are unregulated by the FDA. Hence, it would be best if you took special care to ensure you are getting a quality, safe product during purchase.