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The vampire hormone: What you need to know about melatonin

We all wish we could get more sleep.

CLEVELAND — Too bad there isn’t some magic pill we could take to make the dream of sleep a reality.

One popular supplement that a lot of people take to deal with sleep issues is melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that our body produces naturally to help promote sleep. Most people can produce enough melatonin on their own, but there are some cases where it may be helpful to take a supplement.

The 3News Go! team reached out to Michelle Drerup, PsyD from the Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center to find out more about melatonin. Dredrup is a sleep psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist, who specializes in treating conditions like insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, sleep apnea and more.

Sleep problems are very common. In fact, Drerup says about 10 percent of the population has symptoms of an insomnia disorder that impacts their daily functioning.

Dredrup also says there’s not a lot of data out there on the efficacy of using melatonin at bedtime, but it may help you fall asleep.

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“Melatonin is a hormone of darkness," she says. "We call it the vampire hormone. It doesn't help with sleep maintenance or staying asleep, but more so it has some benefit for sleep onset for some people, as well as those who have delayed sleep phase disorder.”

Dredrup says melatonin can also help for people dealing with jet lag.

But with so many different dosage options available, how do you know where to start?

Dredrup says, start with as small of a dose as possible.

“I usually do not recommend higher than anything than 3mg. It doesn't tend to be effective at higher dosages for most people and it will just tend to make them feel groggy.”

If you’re considering using melatonin to help you fall asleep, it’s also a good idea to check with your doctor. Melatonin can interact with some medications, like blood pressure and diabetes drugs.

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