Pharmacists in Estonia have reported significantly increased sales of melatonin supplements, mainly used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, in recent years, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
The human body itself produces melatonin, a hormone which helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, or Circadian rhythm, primarily in the pineal gland.
Whereas the drug used to be by prescription-only, it is now available over-the-counter in capsule, tablet or spray form
Since melatonin is generally secreted during darkness, it may be the case that the constant presence of phone, computer and TV screens, as well as other light sources, upsets this, according to pharmacist Merle Niglas, who added that taking supplements was not the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.
Niglas warned against prolonged melatonin consumption, adding that the daily dose – a safe amount is about 2 mg – should not be excluded.
While there are no known direct side-effects of using melatonin, since it is a hormone native to the human body, long-term studies have yet to establish whether there are effects on the body's organs.
Niglas also advised trying other methods of getting to sleep before reaching for melatonin or other sleeping pills and supplements. Sales of melatonin have also grown significantly in neighboring Finland in recent years.
Editor: Andrew Whyte