Every country regulates over the counter and prescription drugs differently, so it is difficult to make a definitive answer to this question. However, in the US, melatonin is an over the counter herbal supplement.
Melatonin, in the US, does not require a doctor’s prescription for low level pills such as 3 mg. Melatonin is naturally produced by our bodies to regulate our sleep cycles. However, some people do not produce enough or have other factors complicating their sleep. Therefore, some people take melatonin as a natural sleep aid. Other uses of melatonin include aiding in overcoming jet lag and smoking.
I have struggled to get quality sleep my entire life. When I visited the doctor regarding this issue, he suggested that I start with taking melatonin. It aids in falling asleep quickly and overcoming daily stresses that previously inhibited my sleep.
I am able to purchase melatonin easily over the counter at drugstores such as Walgreen’s. There are regular and extended release types available. The extended release types actually increased the incidence of nightmares for me, so I stick to the regular form of melatonin. I take melatonin in 3 mg pills, although .5 mg to 5 mg pills are available. Melatonin is, strictly speaking, an herbal supplement, so it is not regulated like over the counter medications such as Tylenol or Advil. It is important to choose a reputable company. It is also better to take synthetic melatonin, as animal-extracted melatonin may carry viruses that were transferred during the extraction process. It may also be important to you to consider the country of origin, as most melatonin manufacturers are located either in the US or China.
However, although melatonin does not require a doctor’s prescription, it is advisable to speak with your doctor before beginning regular use of melatonin. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, including side effects of other medications. Your doctor should know that you are are having trouble sleeping and help you discover any other causes before you self-medicate.
In the UK, at least one form of melatonin is available as a prescription medicine. Circadin releases melatonin over several hours to help older adults fall asleep and stay asleep.
Melatonin is a useful tool for getting quality sleep. It is a good first step for anyone struggling to get to sleep at night, and it is affordable and easily accesible without a prescription.