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Sleep Gummies: What They Are and How They Work

As the world continues to look for easier and more convenient ways of doing just about everything, people are swapping chalky, oversized pills and medication for delicious and easy-to-ingest gummies. What started out as a child’s alternative for daily vitamins has now expanded into the adult health industry with gummy vitamins for men and women, plus other forms of medicinal candy including ones that contain CBD and THC.

Sleep gummies are also gaining in popularity, but the question remains – do they really work? In this article we’ll take a closer look at the rise of sleep gummies, what they contain, their potential side effects, and if they really work to ease insomnia symptoms and promote quality sleep.

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What Are Sleep Gummies?

Sleep gummies are similar to traditional over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids and supplements and are used in the hopes of achieving quality sleep. Most gummies contain melatonin, a natural hormone produced by the brain that helps facilitate sleep and regulate your circadian rhythm. When your brain doesn’t produce enough melatonin on its own or you need help relaxing at night or falling and staying asleep, a melatonin supplement may help.

Sleep gummies are available in a variety of flavors and strengths, ranging from 1 to 5 milligrams, depending on your age, gender, size, and need. Flavors include everything from blueberry and strawberry to sour gummies, making them universally appealing to many users. Most melatonin gummies take effect within 30 to 60 minutes and last for approximately 5 hours. As with most other sleep aids, these gummies are not intended for long-term use but, instead, a short-term solution for treating disrupted sleep or acute insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) and other therapy methods are more practical ways to overcome chronic insomnia once and for all.

Do Sleep Gummies Work?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer to this question since every insomnia sufferer is different and has their own unique issues, health history, and responses to treatment. In short, if you’ve responded well to melatonin in the past, you may benefit from sleep gummies. But to gain a better understanding of whether or not sleep gummies would work for you, it’s important to understand how melatonin works inside the human body.

As previously mentioned, melatonin is a natural hormone produced and released by the brain to help transition you from being awake to being asleep. Some people simply produce less melatonin than others and therefore, may be at greater risk of developing insomnia and other sleep disorders. While melatonin plays an important role in maintaining a balanced circadian rhythm, there are many other things that regulate your sleep-wake cycle. These include, but aren’t limited to, your sleep schedule and routine, exposure to blue light before bed, the things you eat and drink at night, plus your sleep environment. This is another reason why sleep gummies aren’t a quick fix for insomnia and may not solve your long-term sleep troubles. In many cases, it takes a multi-faceted approach to overcome insomnia.

Are Sleep Gummies Safe?

Like many other vitamins and supplements on the pharmacy shelves, most sleep gummies aren’t regulated by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), which means that they’re not tested for safety or effectiveness. They may also contain unknown or unidentified ingredients. The dosage isn’t regulated either. You may purchase one brand of sleep gummies where one gummy is equivalent to 1 mg and then another brand where one gummy contains 5 mg of melatonin. This is why it’s imperative you carefully read the labels, follow the dosage instructions carefully, and also consult with a medical professional before taking a melatonin supplement.

One study showed that a certain sleep gummy contained levels of serotonin that were not listed on the bottle. Serotonin is a complex neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for mood, cognition, and memory. It also impacts the brain’s reward system and can pose serious health risks when combined with other medications. If you unknowingly ingest a sleep gummy containing serotonin while also taking other medications or suffering from an underlying medical issue, you may experience serious side effects.

One way to protect yourself is to only purchase sleep gummies that are certified by trusted, third-party groups including the US Pharmacopeia or the National Sanitation Foundation International.

Certain people are at greater risk of having an adverse reaction to sleep gummies containing melatonin. People with these health conditions should speak with their doctor before taking any sleep aid containing melatonin (including gummies):

  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Individuals taking blood thinners or blood pressure medication 
  • Depression

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Other Interesting Facts About Melatonin Sleep Gummies

The more you know about melatonin – the main ingredient in most sleep gummies – the better able you’ll be to decide if this is the best supplement for your specific sleep issues.

Melatonin is Important for Sleep but Not Required

Melatonin is produced from the brain’s pineal gland, which is rather small and located near the base of the brain. In addition to regulating your sleep-wake cycle, melatonin also reduces your core body temperature at night which helps facilitate sleep. However, studies suggest that individuals who have had their pineal gland removed for one reason or another saw a minimal disruption in their sleep patterns or the ability to fall asleep. This indicates that melatonin is not required for sleep and, therefore, its effects are inconclusive.

One study published in a 2017 edition of Sleep Review News indicated that melatonin does reduce sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep once in bed. This change was most notable in patients suffering from delayed sleep phase syndrome and primary insomnia. Doctors suggest that while melatonin can help induce sleepiness, it’s not a magic pill (or gummy) or a hypnotic drug.

The Risk of Animal-Derived Melatonin 

Most people don’t realize that melatonin supplements and sleep gummies are often produced using the pineal glands of certain livestock including pigs and cattle. Others are produced using non-animal-based melatonin which means they’re created in a lab. There’s debate over which method is safer and in many cases, you won’t know what you’re getting when you purchase an OTC sleep gummy. Doctors suggest that melatonin gummies made using animal pineal glands carry a “tiny but real risk” of transmitting mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). The best way to avoid these risks is to only take a melatonin product prescribed by your doctor and one that is produced by a licensed pharmaceutical company.

Other Active Ingredients in Sleep Gummies

Although melatonin is the most popular and common active ingredient in sleep gummies, it’s not the only one. Here are some other ingredients in these chewable sleep aids.

L-Theanine

L-theanine is a stress-relieving amino acid most commonly found in Japanese tea leaves. The calming benefits of L-theanine were first discovered in the late 1940s when people realized they helped reduce stress and promote sleep. These amino acids help the brain produce neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine – all chemicals known to elicit feelings of happiness and calm. In addition, L-theanine triggers alpha waves in the brain that support creativity, focus, and relaxation. One study showed that L-theanine might reduce sleep latency, sleep disturbances, and the need for prescription sleep medications. 

5-HTP

Another active ingredient in sleep gummies is 5-HTP, the same chemical in serotonin. 5-HTP can help improve your mood and reduce anxious thoughts, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. The human body naturally produces 5-HTP from foods containing tryptophan. Serotonin can also help your body regulate melatonin levels. When you ingest 5-HTP in sleep gummies, it can improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration. 5-HTP supplements are produced from the Griffonia seed, so don’t be surprised if you see this ingredient listed on your favorite sleep gummies as well.

Vitamin B6

You’ve likely heard how important vitamin B is for overall health and well-being, but B6, specifically, plays an important role in sleep and sleep quality. This vitamin supports your body’s natural production of melatonin while also converting tryptophan into serotonin. As previously mentioned, serotonin works to ease stress and anxiety and increase melatonin levels. This may be the reason why some users report waking to feel refreshed and more energized after taking a sleep gummy containing vitamin B6 or a B6 supplement.

Lemon Balm

Another natural mood booster is lemon balm, which has the same citrus fragrance as the fruit it’s associated with. Lemon balm is also related to the mint family and is said to support cognitive function and mental health thanks to its rosmarinic acid contents. This acid helps to increase how many neurotransmitters are available in the brain, strengthening their signals throughout the body. 

Lavender and Chamomile 

These ingredients aren’t just popular in herbal teas. They’re also commonly found in many sleep gummies thanks to their calming benefits and mild sedative qualities. Lavender is said to elicit calm and relaxation, improve mental clarity, and benefit sleep duration. Similarly, chamomile can make it easier for you to fall asleep. Science suggests this natural herb has intense calming benefits. It also contains apigenin, an antioxidant that attaches itself to receptors in the brain that control your body’s sleep mode.

The Potential Side Effects of Sleep Gummies

Even if you find a sleep gummy that’s approved by your doctor and contains healthy levels of melatonin, your body may react in different ways. Here are some of the most common side effects associated with melatonin use and sleep gummies.

  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Depression
  • Mild anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain or nausea 
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Bedwetting
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Reduced alertness

Who Can Benefit Most from Sleep Gummies?

Even though melatonin sleep gummies aren’t approved or recommended for long-term use, they do offer benefits under specific circumstances. As long as you’ve been cleared by your doctor to start using sleep gummies and don’t have any of the above-mentioned health conditions, sleep gummies may help treat the following sleep conditions:

  • Insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
  • Sleep disorders in those who are blind
  • Jet lag
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep troubles caused by shift work

Although there’s no research to indicate melatonin or sleep gummies can treat the following conditions, some users report finding relief from the following conditions after taking a supplement containing melatonin:

  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Nicotine withdrawal
  • RLS (restless leg syndrome)
  • Fibromyalgia

The best way to determine if sleep gummies are a good choice for treating your insomnia or other related sleep issues is to speak with your healthcare provider and be honest about your current condition. If you’ve tried everything you can, including changing your sleep environment, setting a sleep schedule, reducing unhealthy behaviors, and limiting screen time before bed, but still haven’t found relief, taking sleep gummies may be a viable option. Just know that even if these supplements provide short-term relief, they’re not intended for long-term use, which is why it’s recommended you make other lifestyle choices that support quality sleep.

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality With or Without Sleep Gummies

Whether you decide to give sleep gummies a try or not, there are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality and promote a healthy night’s rest. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Set a consistent sleep schedule that involves going to bed and waking at the same time each day.
  • Adopt a wind-down routine before bed that promotes relaxation and calm including taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, writing in a journal, or meditating.
  • Avoid stimulants before bed including coffee and other caffeinated beverages, nicotine, alcohol, or foods high in fat and sugars.
  • Exercise daily, especially in the morning hours. 
  • Create a bedroom environment that promotes sleep by reducing noise and light distractions and investing in quality pillows and bedding.
  • Avoid using digital devices or screens at least 2 hours before bed. The blue light from these electronics (including your TV, smartphone, and computer) can interfere with your body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin and disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

Let Somnus Therapy Support Your Efforts

At Somnus Therapy, we help insomnia sufferers identify and understand the root cause of their sleep troubles, all from the comfort of their homes. Using a mix of CBT-i methods, you can finally achieve the blissful night’s sleep you deserve. Click here to get started on your journey.

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