My wife was recommended to use melatonin for help with a mild sleeping problem. She is 48, and I snore. Does this sound right?
It remains to be seen whether melatonin is a safe and effective medication for sleep disorders. Melatonin is a human hormone produced in the body by the pineal gland. It is natural in your body, but the supplements you buy at the drug store are manufactured, even if the label says “all natural.”
In my view, if a substance is “produced” and used to treat a medical condition, then it’s a medication, however natural. But the U.S. government does not regulate melatonin products as drugs. It treats them as dietary supplements and as such, they are almost totally unregulated. Even if melatonin were safe and effective for treating sleep problems, you would have no way of knowing whether the melatonin you bought was produced under stringent quality standards.
So where does this leave you and your wife? I suggest that she talk with her doctor or gynecologist. It is not clear just how disrupted her sleep is. Most people wake periodically during the night and go right back to sleep. If your wife is waking and having difficulty falling back to sleep, this could be a form of insomnia.
Sleep disruptions can also be a symptom of peri-menopause. Your wife is certainly in the right age bracket for this. It does not mean she is about to stop menstruating; this type of symptom may come on quite a few years before actual menopause.
On the other hand, maybe your snoring is getting louder and you are the one who needs to see a doctor. It is not a bad idea to rule out sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous breathing problem that sometimes accompanies snoring.
It does not sound as if your wife’s problem is bad enough to resort to medication at this point. At least not before she tries to improve her sleep hygiene, which means making some small changes in lifestyle and routine to bring her a better night’s sleep. Sometimes it is as simple as cutting out coffee after dinner or exercising in the morning instead of at night.