Time-Shifting Medicines

Side Effects

Side effects of melatonin are headache, sleep pattern changes, confusion, low body temperature, sedation; increased heart rate; nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite; rash and itchiness; and decreased levels of the hormones progesterone, estradiol, and luteinizing hormone. Most side effects are mild, and will usually diminish or disappear over time.

Tryptophan, an essential amino acid obtained from the diet, is a precursor of serotonin and the B-complex vitamin niacin. The pineal gland in the brain then converts serotonin to melatonin in response to external light cues. Tryptophan is present in high amounts in all protein derived from meat, and is necessary for normal growth and development. Other foods containing tryptophan are chickpeas, chocolate, cottage cheese, dried dates, eggs, oats, mangoes, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, peanuts, spirulina, milk, yogurt. Contrary to popular belief, the amount of tryptophan found in turkey is no higher than the amount found in other meats. High doses of tryptophan may cause sedation as well as nausea and vomiting.

clockMany chronobiotic medications are used to promote sleep or wakefulness, but these drugs may lead to behavioral changes, “hangover,” dependency, and withdrawal symptoms. These chronobiotics can have a negative effect upon the circadian rhythm, causing a rebound effect that makes it even more difficult to fall asleep once the medication is discontinued. Some medications commonly used to treat insomnia are benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and other sedatives. Scientists are researching new chronobiotics derived from melatonin in an effort to avoid the negative side effects of medications used to treat insomnia.



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