Pregnancy is a little miracle that brings a lot of changes to your and your partner’s life. While some of the changes include the pregnancy glow that everyone keeps talking about, the quality of sleep is rare among the positive changes.
How are melatonin & pregnancy related?
Can you take melatonin while pregnant?
How to fight insomnia when you are pregnant?
Read further to find out all of these questions.
Studies show that sleeping disorders, ranging from insomnia, nightly awakenings, and parasomnias, to snoring and disproportionate sleep, are occurring due to the hormonal, psychological, behavioral changes and physical factors. It’s also known that the levels of melatonin significantly (about 100 folds) higher in the third semester compared to a non-pregnant healthy woman.
So, the majority of young moms have experienced sleeping disorders, but how can you avoid this problem or at least make it less significant?
I’m writing this article to help pregnant women understand how melatonin & pregnancy are related, whether or not it’s safe to use and what are the side effects of taking melatonin supplements while pregnant. Finally, I will also answer the question "how to get more sleep while carrying your child?". So, in this article, you will find everything there is to know about melatonin and pregnancy as well as some additional information regarding the benefits and usage of this supplement.
Table of Contents
Melatonin & Pregnancy: What is Melatonin?
Before moving further into the melatonin & pregnancy, I want you to know everything there is about it.
To begin with, melatonin is a hormone, which is naturally produced by the pineal gland in your brain. This hormone regulates sleep cycles. People who experience trouble falling asleep due to jet lag or night shifts, usually take this medication as a short-term solution. Needless to say, the melatonin as medicine is created synthetically in the lab and usually comes in the form of a pill.
Now, how does melatonin regulate the night and day cycles? Your body reacts to darkness, signalizing that it is time to sleep. At this time your body produces more melatonin. The light is a warning to your body that it’s time to wake up, so, as the sun goes up, the production of melatonin decreases. That's why this supplement is considered to be beneficial for those who suffer from insomnia or simply experience trouble falling asleep.
Insomnia and Pregnancy
I’ve already told you that insomnia during pregnancy is quite a common phenomenon, but let me put it in numbers. According to the research, about 78% of pregnant women experience difficulty falling asleep or very low-quality rest. It may be caused by the discomfort due to the size of your abdomen, the need to go to the bathroom frequently, back pain, hormonal changes, anxiety, and many other reasons.
So, even if it’s a common problem, it doesn’t mean you should take it for granted, there are some risks that can appear due to the lack of sleep. First of all, in some circumstances, insomnia can cause complications. As the studies showed, not only the lack of sleep but also the low-quality of sleep can result in birth complications, depression, increased risk of preterm birth.
So, even if there are certain risks that the majority of pregnant women are aware of, it can still be very difficult to deal with these problems. One of the ways to fight it is to use natural supplements, such as melatonin. But the question is, can you take melatonin while pregnant?
Melatonin & Pregnancy: Is Melatonin Safe During Pregnancy?
Even though people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders, often use melatonin, it is not yet known if it’s safe to use melatonin while pregnant. While some say that it’s harmless to take melatonin in small doses of 3mg or under, there’s no standard dosage and that can lead to certain risks.
The Department of Psychiatry, in Norway, performed the test on pregnant animals, to see how they were affected by the melatonin. The study showed that this supplement negatively affected the pregnant animal’s and the baby's weight, and even led to death. Of course, so many more human studies should be carried out in order to see if melatonin and pregnancy can go together.
So, since the studies are still in the early process, accurate results cannot be presented. However, there are a few conceivable benefits of melatonin while pregnant such as:
- Fertility increase
- Decrease the risk of preterm birth
- Decrease the risk of preeclampsia
- Improve sleep
Note that a research gap exists and these benefits are related to natural melatonin and pregnancy. It's not yet known if melatonin as a supplement during pregnancy work similarly. So, before using any medicaments, always talk to your doctor.
Thus, is melatonin safe during pregnancy? There’s a lack of research to give you a firm answer. So, if there’s a way to avoid it, always choose to do so.
What are the Benefits of Melatonin?
You already know that melatonin & pregnancy may not be the best combination. And even if there are some theories that melatonin while pregnant can improve some of the indicators, no one is yet certain if the long-term usage cannot do any harm.
Despite the fact that melatonin is often the research object, the study gap of broader research exists. The studies are needed to determine whether or not the melatonin is effective and safe to use for people suffering from insomnia, especially in long-term usage. However, the analysis of 17 different studies revealed that melatonin increased total sleep duration by 12.8 minutes.
So, even if it’s unclear if melatonin & pregnancy can be compatible, there are beneficial sides to this drug (of course, in this case, I’m not referring to the pregnant women). So, what are they?
Research has proven that melatonin can help to fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is more often called seasonal depression. Many people (about 10%) have experienced this condition, maybe you’re one of them?
Melatonin can be used by men who want to be strong. This medication might increase the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) in men’s bodies, which means, it can benefit in the increase of both muscle and body mass.
Another benefit includes possible eye health improvement. Since melatonin contains a lot of antioxidants, it might prevent cell damage that could lead to the delay of age-related eye degeneration and maintain visual clarity.
The last advantage of using melatonin is the help with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a digestive disorder that is caused when stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and esophagus. The melatonin can obstruct the secretion of stomach acids and allow it to enter the esophagus.
That’s about it when it comes to the benefits of melatonin. So, even if melatonin & pregnancy may not be compatible or used only in a very small dosage, women who are not expecting and men can use this supplement, and expect some advantageous results.
Now, the only question that might bother you, can melatonin be toxic?
Even if there’s a concern about the spread usage of melatonin as a consumerism product, there are no cases of overdose or proven toxicity detected. Therefore, you can use it safely, however, pay attention to the dose written on the package and use medicaments for the intended purposes.
How to Take Melatonin?
As melatonin and pregnancy may not be the best combination, before taking any medication, it’s strongly recommended to talk to your doctor.
Now, usually, melatonin supplements come in a pill that you have to swallow with some water. Most commonly, the dose varies from 1 to 3 mg, which manages to raise the levels of melatonin in your body up to 20 times and can go even higher.
If you decide to take melatonin, the best option would be to take it at the same time every day, it will help to regulate your sleep cycle.
Note that if you take any kind of pills, especially when it’s related to melatonin & pregnancy, always read the information paper and use the dose that is prescribed, never overdose any drugs as it may cause negative reactions or allergies.
Try These Tips Before Taking Medicaments
There's always something you can do before taking any medications.
First of all, try sleeping on your left side. Studies show that this position causes the highest blood and nutrient flow to your fetus. While sleeping on your side, try to bend your knees. This way, you will remove the pressure in your lower back.
You can also try to put a pillow between your knees, it will reduce the pressure from your back and add extra comfort. If you still find it difficult to settle, you can try different positions with a pillow. That should help you to find a comfortable rest position without the combination of melatonin & pregnancy.
Another tip is to create a perfect environment for sleeping. To begin with, turn off all of the devices that spread the light to make it as dark as possible. Secondly, do not watch TV before bed. The research has proven it to be one of the most crucial mistakes made by those who suffer from insomnia.
Moving further, maintain the regular sleeping cycle. You should always try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It will allow your body to adapt and maintain the regular cycle of the day.
What is more, you should try to work out regularly to release tension unless your doctor recommends differently. Exercises will increase blood circulation and release endorphins and you will notice as your mood gets so much better. But note that you shouldn't do any exercises right before bed unless it’s a very light workout.
Try to do something relaxing before bed and you won’t have to ask anymore, can you take melatonin while pregnant? You can try reading a book, taking a warm bath, writing, meditating, listening to calm music. The list goes on and on, you just need to pick an activity that works for you.
If you try these tips, you may avoid using any medicaments, which are not recommended for pregnant women. So why not try something that comes natural, before making any big choices?
And, if it’s a very difficult time for you, remember that you’re not alone. You can even join some groups to relate to other women. There are always societies you can find on Facebook and Twitter, and also specialized forums, such as:
Therefore, there’s a variety of opportunities online, which can help you to feel better by sharing your feelings with other moms-to-be or young mums.
Hence, you came to this article hoping to find about the melatonin & pregnancy, so by now, you should know all the needed information related to this medication.
So, melatonin is not yet proven to be safe for pregnant women as there are no large-scale studies conducted. So, before making any decisions, you should try at least some of the tips that I mentioned, including sleeping on your left side, exercise, a pillow between your knees, calming activities, such as meditation, reading books and listening to music. It should help you to normalize your sleeping cycle without the need to take melatonin while pregnant.
For those of you who read this article looking for the benefits of melatonin, you already know that melatonin can help you to sleep better, fight seasonal depression, improve eye health and fight reflux.
Thus, while melatonin might seem like a safe option, always talk to your doctor before taking it. As for melatonin & pregnancy, I wouldn’t recommend using it, just because there are no large scale studies on how it affects women who are expecting.
Scientific References Contributed by Denise Gassner, Biologist & Family Sleep Educator
1. Sara Nowakowski, Jessica Meers, and Erin Heimbach: 'Sleep and Women’s Health'
2. University of Aberdeen: 'Melatonin in Pregnancy (MEL-P2)'
3. Dun Xian Tan, Bing Xu, Xinjia Zhou: 'Pineal Calcification, Melatonin Production, Aging, Associated Health Consequences and Rejuvenation of the Pineal Gland'
4. Jen Jen Chang, Grace W Pien, Stephen P Duntley: 'Sleep Deprivation during Pregnancy and Maternal and Fetal Outcomes: Is There a Relationship?'
5. Brzezinski, Vangel, Wurtman: 'Effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep: a meta-analysis.'
6. Valcavi R, Zini M, Maestroni GJ: 'Melatonin stimulates growth hormone secretion through pathways other than the growth hormone-releasing hormone.'
7. Lundmark PO, Pandi-Perumal SR, Srinivasan V, et al.: 'Role of melatonin in the eye and ocular dysfunctions.'