Dr Amir talks about the best sleep positions for health
Getting a full, restful night’s sleep can be a struggle for many of us.
It is estimated that one in three of us experience problems with our sleep at least once in our lives with issues such as stress, anxiety, illness and injuries among others to blame.
Therefore, it is understandable that many Britons turn to various sleeping aids to help them get enough shut-eye at night.
While these will be tried and tested to ensure they are safe, they can bring with them a raft of unwanted side effects.
One expert spoke with Express.co.uk about some of the risks that come with taking the popular sleep aid melatonin regularly.
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Melatonin is a hormone made in the body to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
However, it can be produced synthetically to be used as a supplement.
It is also known by brand names Circadin, calan forcat minorca Adaflex, Ceyesto, Slenyto and Syncrodin.
The sale of over-the-counter melatonin supplements is actually banned in the UK, with it only available via a prescription.
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However, some people have been known to bypass this by buying it online.
What are the risks of taking melatonin?
Ian Budd, clinical lead and prescribing pharmacist at Chemist4U, urged people to only take melatonin as a “last resort”.
“If you’ve been struggling with your sleep cycle for a while, it’s likely you know that melatonin is a natural chemical in the body that helps you to fall asleep,” he explained.
“But, make sure you know what you’re getting into before you pick up your prescription, as Circadin can have some pretty unpleasant side effects such as abnormal nightmares, night sweats and weight gain.
“Sleep aids should only be used as a last resort, after first trying to make some lifestyle changes, such as improving your bedtime routine, cutting down caffeine intake and managing stress.
“We would recommend consulting with your doctor before using melatonin as a sleep aid to avoid any unwanted side effects.”
The NHS lists side effects of melatonin as:
- Feeling sleepy or tired in the daytime
- Stomach ache
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Dry mouth
- Dry or itchy skin
- Pains in your arms or legs
- Strange dreams or night sweats.
However, it warns you should call 111 immediately if you:
- Get changes to your eyesight, such as blurred vision
- Feel faint or pass out
- Start feeling confused or dizzy, or things seem to be spinning around you (vertigo)
- Have any bleeding that does not stop, unexplained bruising or blood in your urine.
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