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Pregnancy may sometimes take a toll on your sleep, and you may find it really difficult to get a good sleep at night. Where some sleep issues do not cause much concern, other issues may require medical intervention. Most sleep disorders happen due to the disrupted levels of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone in the human body, which is responsible for sleep. People who have issues or problems while sleeping often take it as a dietary supplement. In the following article, we shall discuss whether it is safe to take melatonin during pregnancy and its benefits and side-effects.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone which is primarily responsible for your sleep and is produced naturally by the body. However, sometimes people who suffer from sleep disorders are often recommended melatonin supplements to improve their sleep.
Is Melatonin Safe to Use in Pregnancy
Melatonin is produced in ample amounts by the ovaries and placenta of a pregnant woman. The production of this hormone starts peaking at 24 weeks, and it increases further after 32 weeks of pregnancy. Thus, a pregnant woman’s body is already making sufficient amounts of melatonin and whether or not she should take melatonin supplements during pregnancy is still a matter of great concern and is very much debatable. There is not enough evidence available that supports the safety of taking melatonin supplements during pregnancy. However, taking small dosage for a short-term may be considered safe, but long-term use may cause harm to the baby by causing various complications.
What Is the Recommended Intake of Melatonin While Pregnant
As discussed above melatonin should be taken in small amounts and for a short duration during pregnancy. You may take 3 mg or lesser dosage of melatonin per day during pregnancy. However, taking melatonin on your own or without the doctor’s prescription should be strictly avoided during pregnancy. If you are suffering from low blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or other such ailments, taking melatonin during pregnancy may cause severe complications. Melatonin should be taken during pregnancy only after consulting with your healthcare practitioner.
Benefits of Taking Melatonin while Pregnant
Here are some of the benefits of melatonin for you and your baby:
For the baby:
- It may protect your baby from neurobehavioral disorders.
- It can also protect the baby from oxidative stress.
- It protects your baby from intrauterine growth retardation.
- It is beneficial for your baby’s brain development.
For the mother:
- It aids the functions of the placenta.
- It helps in better sleep.
- It reduces the risk of preeclampsia.
- It helps in enhancing fertility.
- It reduces the risk of pre-term labour.
Side-Effects of Melatonin in Pregnancy
Though consuming melatonin in small amounts is considered safe and may not cause any side-effects but sometimes following side-effects may occur too:
1. Commonly Experienced Side-Effects
Melatonin may cause some side-effects such as abnormal heartbeat, aggression, mood swings, nausea, rash, accelerated heart rate, fatigue, memory loss, delusions etc. Please discuss all the pros and cons of the medicine with your doctor before taking it.
2. The Changing Hormones during Pregnancy
Pregnancy makes several changes in a woman’s body, and hormonal change is one of them. These changing hormones may sometimes cause various other changes in the body. Therefore, if a pregnant woman is taking melatonin, then the doctor will keep monitoring her hormones. This is because sometimes changing hormones may cause acne, hot flushes, changes in eyesight etc. and it is very important for the doctor to establish whether melatonin or changing pregnancy hormones are responsible for such medical conditions.
3. Sugar Levels and Blood Pressure
Melatonin may affect the sugar levels, and blood pressure of your body during pregnancy and both these conditions may cause severe complications in pregnancy. Therefore, if you are on melatonin supplements, your doctor will keep monitoring your health to check blood pressure and sugar levels.
Natural Ways to Increase Your Melatonin Level
The natural way of doing things is the best way and more so when you are pregnant. Though melatonin supplements may guarantee you a peaceful sleep at night here we have some natural ways of increasing melatonin levels in your body:
1. Lower Your Stress Levels
Keep your stress levels low by keeping yourself happy and relaxed. You may listen to good music or do meditation or yoga to relieve any kind of stress that you experience. Stress is not only bad for you, but it is also not good for the baby.
2. Prepare for Bed Early
Start sending signals to your mind that you want to sleep. You may do so by preparing yourself mentally and physically. Also, refrain from being up till late at night as this may cause a major disturbance in your sleeping schedule.
3. No Noisy Alarm Clocks
Waking up by a loud and noisy alarm clock can be pretty annoying especially during pregnancy when you already may be struggling to get peaceful sleep. Wake up with nice melodious music or tone that helps you calm and relax.
4. Warm Water Bath before Bed
Taking a warm water bath before bedtime is a great way of getting some quality sleep. Getting into a sleep routine is a great way of getting some good sleep.
5. Sleep in a Comfortable Temperature
Extreme temperature may disrupt your sleep. Therefore, if you are staying in a place of extreme climate, it is very important that you keep your room’s temperature at a comfortable setting so that you can sleep peacefully.
6. Get Some Morning Sunlight
It is a good idea to bask in some morning sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes. Exposing yourself to the morning sun helps your body to regulate its melatonin production.
7. Say No to Gadgets before Bed Time
Switch your mind off before going to bed every night. Refrain from using mobile phone, television, or computer for almost an hour before bedtime. This will ease your mind and thus may induce better sleep.
8. Avoid Eating Heavy Meals
Heavy food items may make you feel uncomfortable and restless. Finish eating your meal at least two to three hours before bedtime. Also, do not consume caffeinated drinks as it may disrupt your sleep.
9. Foods to Eat
There are some food items that are responsible for melatonin production in the body. Therefore, you may include these food items in your diet to naturally spike up your melatonin levels. Some of the food items are nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables etc.
10. Body Massage
Body massage in a great way of relaxing your body. Make sure you get your massage done from an expert.
Melatonin has been in use to treat sleep problems, and it is also safe to take a small dosage of melatonin during pregnancy. However, you should take melatonin only after you get an approval from your doctor.
Also Read: Melatonin for Kids – An Overview