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Exploring the Role of Melatonin in ADHD

written by: M. Staker • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/16/2010

Adults with ADHD need to know about the relationship between melatonin and adult ADHD, and how increasing the levels of melatonin can provide relief for their symptoms.

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    What Melatonin Levels Mean for Adults with ADHD

    People with ADHD often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. In fact, it is estimated that up to 40% of people with ADHD also report suffering from sleep deprivation. Having ADHD comes with a host of different symptoms that are heightened when an individual with the disorder does not get a full night of sleep. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, people with ADHD tend to have low levels of melatonin. Since melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, individuals without enough melatonin have a difficult time going to sleep and staying asleep. Increasing these levels in adults with ADHD can not only make them sleep better, but can also aid in controlling some of the other symptoms of the disorder. Although the relationship between melatonin and ADHD has not been thoroughly studied, many patients have reported better sleep when their levels were increased.

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    How to Increase Melatonin Levels

    Not only does having ADHD cause adults to suffer from sleep problems, often times, the medication that they take to treat the ADHD symptoms also lead to insomnia. Many people with ADHD do not want to take sleeping pills in order to go to sleep because they can become habit forming. Fortunately, melatonin supplements are available over the counter and have shown to help ADHD sufferers get to sleep faster and keep them asleep longer. Melatonin supplements are all natrual and are generally safe for anyone to take. The only side effect that has been consistent, among users of melatonin, is drowsiness. Although melatonin itself does not improve the symptoms of ADHD, the fact that it allows the sufferer to obtain more sleep results in fewer or less extreme symptoms. These supplements can be purchased in 3 mg. doses or 5 mg doses, though a 3 mg. dosage is usually recommended to start out with. The supplements should also be taken about an hour before going to bed. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of melatonin is constant, no matter how long a person uses the supplement, unlike other supplements that become less effective over time.

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    Research on Melatonin and Adult ADHD

    Although melatonin supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, most experts agree that they are safe and effective for both children and adults, since it is a hormone that is naturally produced in our bodies. There has not been a lot of research performed on the relationship between melatonin and ADHD, which means there is no conclusive evidence to prove that it can be effective in helping adults with ADHD. However, the limited research that has been conducted has suggested that it can be an effective and safe way for adults who suffer from ADHD to get a more restful sleep.

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