Melatonin, often known by its brand name ‘Circadin’, is a sleep aid used to treat primary insomnia and regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Insomnia is a condition that results in difficulty getting to sleep (sleep-onset insomnia), staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia) or an overall reduction in quality of sleep.
It is mainly used to treat primary insomnia, where no environmental cause such as lifestyle, medications or other medical conditions can be attributed to the condition. However, it can be used to treat a specific sleep condition known as jet lag, where your regular sleep pattern has been disrupted by travelling through different time zones.
Most people will experience a lack of sleep from time to time. However, people who do shift work; have poor sleeping habits; take a lot of medications or have other conditions such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Alzheimer’s or diabetes tend to be more at risk. In all cases, leaving insomnia untreated can affect your physical and mental health in the long-term. That is why it’s important to get insomnia and other sleep disorders treated, so you can have better sleep and therefore a healthier life overall.
You can buy Melatonin online here at euroClinix in the form of modified-release (MR) and immediate-release (IR) tablets for both primary insomnia and jet lag.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally released by the pineal gland in the brain at night-time. It signals ‘darkness’, which prepares your body for sleep by making you feel sleepy. When it is light, there is an inhibition of Melatonin secretion and this signals to the body to prepare for wakefulness.Therefore, the tablet works by regulating your circadian rhythms (your internal clock) by inducing the feeling of sleepiness when it gets dark. This is particularly effective for jet lag and circadian rhythm disorders where your circadian rhythms have been disrupted.
People with primary insomnia, who are otherwise healthy, most likely have lower levels of melatonin than those who don’t have insomnia. This means that they will not produce enough melatonin at night for your body to prepare for sleep. Melatonin production also reduces with age, which is why primary insomnia in older people is very prevalent and is why the drug has been studied mainly in populations over 55 years old.
Melatonin tablets are modified-release (MR), which are designed to mimic the body’s natural secretion of hormones gradually. It works effectively as the brain is very sensitive to low-levels of melatonin earlier in the night.
It is mainly prescribed for people over the age of 55 and it has not been officially licensed for use in ages below 55, meaning it is ‘off-label’, but a doctor can legally prescribe it if they think it’s appropriate for someone below 55.
Otherwise, there are some groups of people who should take caution before taking Melatonin. This may be because Melatonin can worsen symptoms or there is not enough known about how Melatonin affects a condition. This includes those who have:
Melatonin is also not recommended for any women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are not sure whether you have any of these conditions, consult your doctor.
There are some medications that can interact with Melatonin. The main interaction is with other sedative medications known as CNS depressants. These include benzodiazepine receptor antagonists (BZAs) such as diazepam or non-benzodiazepines (sometimes referred to as ‘z-drugs’) like zolpidem or zopiclone. You should also not take any other sleep aids with Melatonin. This includes herbal remedies (like valerian, antioxidants or L-tryptophan supplements) or over-the-counter medications (like Nytol or Sominex). The combination of all of these sleep medicines and Melatonin can make you too drowsy and should be avoided.
If you are taking any of the following medications, you should take caution and seek advice from your GP before taking Melatonin:
If you are not sure whether you take any of these medications, consult with your doctor.
You should always take Melatonin exactly as advised by your doctor. Tablets should be taken after food and should be swallowed whole, not crushed or cut in half. You should avoid caffeine or alcohol whilst taking Melatonin as it can reduce the effectiveness. Melatonin can cause drowsiness, so if affected, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery. Treatment for jet lag and insomnia require different doses of Melatonin. Usually, the use of melatonin for jet lag typically requires a higher dose.
For the treatment of jet lag, Melatonin comes in the form of 3mg instant-release (IR) tablets or 2mg MR tablets off-label. You should take one tablet 1-2 hours before arriving at your destination. Doses should not be taken before 8pm or after 4am as to not interfere with your sleep schedule. Melatonin in this instance should not be taken long-term.
For the treatment of insomnia, Melatonin comes in the form of 2mg MR tablets or 3mg IR off-label. You should take one tablet 1-2 hours before bed for 13 weeks.
If you miss a dose, do not take two doses at the same time or take an extra dose to make up for the forgotten dose. Although taking 1 or 2 extra tablets is unlikely to harm you, it’s better to eliminate the risk by simply skipping a dose and continuing from the next day.
If you find your quality of sleep has not improved after 13 weeks, you should stop taking it and contact your doctor.
As with all prescription medications, Melatonin can have some side effects, although these are usually mild and rare. The most common and mild side effects (usually only affecting 1 in 100 people) include:
Less common side effects occur in around one in every 1,000 patients and can include:
If you experience more serious side effects such as chest pain, loss of consciousness, disorientation, psoriasis or you think you’re having an allergic reaction, then you should stop taking Melatonin and seek immediate medical advice.
A more comprehensive list of side effects is available in the information leaflet available to download here or will be sent to you with the medication.
The short-term benefits of treating your jet lag mean you can enjoy your holiday from the start, so you don’t have to worry about daytime drowsiness.
There are a multitude of benefits from treating your insomnia. It will reduce irritability and low mood, as well as improve your concentration and memory. There can also be some long-term effects. A consistent lack of sleep can be an increased risk factor for more serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity and diabetes. So treating your insomnia and other sleep problems can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
In addition, Melatonin, as opposed to other sedative medications, is not addictive and cannot cause withdrawal symptoms so is a safer alternative.
The majority of research from clinical trials on Melatonin efficacy shows that it is a lastingly effective treatment for insomnia.One clinical study, conducted over 6 months, compared sleep quality improvement of 354 adults aged between 55-80. They found that in the participants who took Melatonin, that their sleep quality and morning alertness improved by 26% compared to the 15% improvement found in the other half who took a placebo (an inactive pill, sometimes referred to as a ‘sugar pill’. They also found an almost 25 minute reduction in time it took Melatonin users to fall asleep, compared to a 13 minute reduction in the placebo group. A later study also found that sleep latency (time taken to fall asleep) gradually improved over time, and the effects were maintained for up to 6 months throughout the study.
Research has focussed on the efficacy of Melatonin in older adults as natural melatonin levels decrease with age, meaning older populations are at a higher risk of developing insomnia. However, later clinical studies are promising in showing the benefits in younger adults. In another 6 month study, conducted with 18-80 year olds, found similar effects from Melatonin. The sleep latency was reduced by almost 20 minutes in those who took Melatonin, as opposed to around a 2 minute reduction in those who took a placebo. The buildup of research for adolescents is promising and perhaps one day it will be more accessible.
The key to better sleep in general is having good ‘sleep hygiene’. This involves ensuring good sleep conditions (like room conditions and bed quality); reducing screen time before bed; not drinking or eating too much before bed; limiting naps in the daytime and only using your bed for sleep. If you’re not sure how to go about improving your sleep hygiene, you should speak to your healthcare provider and they can help you get you started.
You may also benefit from complementary therapies to target stress as unmanaged stress has a significant impact on the body. One of the most effective forms of therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy CBT which your GP can refer you for. Alternatively, accredited massage therapies, hypno therapies and yoga have all been found to reduce stress.
All of these lifestyle changes will help you sleep better and improve your insomnia.
You can buy Melatonin online at euroClinix but you will need a prescription. Once you complete a simple health questionnaire, one of our registered doctors will ensure that the treatment is safe for you to buy and that it will be effective in treating your insomnia or jet lag. Once your order is approved your medication will be dispatched from one of our registered pharmacies with free next-day delivery.
You can buy melatonin in the UK without a prescription in the form of dietary supplements either online or from specialist suppliers. They are often marketed as ‘immediate-release’ and can come in the form of liquid or tablets. However, this is an unlicensed treatment for insomnia in the UK. One study even found that, from a randomly sampled selection of supplement brands, 71% did not label their dosages of Melatonin correctly. Another 26% of these supplement brands contained other active ingredients like serotonin.
The herbal supplement market, particularly online, is not well regulated and the safety of melatonin supplements bought from certain suppliers is not guaranteed. You should always do your research before purchasing any herbal products or ask a healthcare professional.
Note: You must complete a short online consultation so that our doctor can ensure that the treatment is suitable for you. The above pricing should only be used as a reference. The final decision to issue this treatment lies with the prescribing doctor.
|Available dosage||2 mg MR for insomnia / 3 mg IR for jet lag|
|Exemption||Subject to medical prescription|
|Application||Men and women over 18 with trouble sleeping|
|Usage||Take 1 tablet a day (with food and water) before bed for insomnia / 1-2 pills a night for jet lag|
|Description||Prescription treatment for insomnia in over 55s (off-label for under 55s) and jet lag|
|Drug class||Melatonin receptor agonists|
|Alcohol consumption||Can impact efficacy|
|When breastfeeding||Not recommended, ask your doctor for alternatives|
|When pregnant||Not recommended, ask your doctor for alternatives|
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