Melatonin, the miracle sleeping pill?

Also known as the sleep hormone, melatonin is traditionally used to treat jet lag, migraines and sleep problems for the elderly.

Today, melatonin is increasingly recommended for treating sleep disorders related to methylphenidate use or preventing sleep deficiency in adolescents and individuals living with autism spectrum disorder.

"Natural product" does not mean without contraindication

Although melatonin is sold over the counter and is considered a "natural product" in Canada, it is contraindicated in many situations. People who have cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, depression or asthma should not use it. Just like pregnant or breastfeeding women - according to the opinion of various experts - and people under 21 years old. It is therefore advisable to consult a health professional to find out if the melatonin supplement is right for you. They can also refer you to other strategies that promote circadian regulation.

Occurs naturally in the brain

In people who do not have a sleep disorder, at dusk, the body naturally goes to sleep thanks to the melatonin present in the brain. It tells the brain that it is time to sleep!

Useful but not miraculous

When the circadian clock derails and even counting sheep becomes painful, oral intake of melatonin is a possible solution. As evidenced by an interesting study in 2014, the miraculous benefits of taking melatonin supplementation would be less noticeable than the rumour suggests. In some subjects, melatonin appears to have a positive effect on the cycle and quality of sleep, while in others it has little or no effect. But in all cases, it is shown that sleep problems are resolved when treatment is supported by the establishment of appropriate conditions.

Among these, we find:
  • Exposing yourself to the light as soon as you wake up
  • Avoid screens in the evening
  • Go to bed every day at the same time
  • Set up a sleeping routine
  • Practice a relaxing activity before going to bed
  • Change the molecule of the medication (for ADHD children, for example)
  • Exercise during the day
  • Avoid so-called exciting foods (coffee, chocolate, sugar, etc.)

The Sandman may sell us dreams, but we will never buy sleep in bulk. The miracle pill does not exist and melatonin is not a panacea. Although it may promote better sleep, without complete care and 360-degree treatment, it will not cure all ailments.


FamiliprixCentre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal; Centre du sommeil The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep : a rapid evidence assessment of the literature

This week
15 easy arts and crafts projects

Rainy day? School holiday? Vacations? If you want to do arts and crafts without giving yourself a headache, here are 15 easy projects to do with your kids.

Why do babies cry?

For parents of newborns, the increased and often inconsolable crying of their infants during the first few months of life can be a frustrating and stressful experience.

Folic Acid - What All Women Should Know

Folic acid is the best prevention against neural tube defects that affect 2 to 4 babies out of 1000. Here’s everything you should know.

14 unmistakable pregnancy signs

Do you think you might be pregnant but you’re not 100% sure? If you relate to these 14 signs, you should definitely head to your local pharmacy to buy that pregnancy test you’ve been thinking about!