Sleep can be elusive, and many people have great difficulties getting enough. The problem is not that people don’t value sleep: most have heard that inadequate sleep may predispose us to health problems such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes or high blood pressure. The trouble is concern about how to get to sleep. Both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills can increase the risk of falls. Falls may lead to broken bones. Might melatonin help?
Does Melatonin Make Bones Weaker or Stronger?
Q. Not long ago, you referenced a 2016 study regarding melatonin use and risk of bone fracture. A quick Google search provided more carefully designed research articles that indicate melatonin can promote bone strength.
I hope what you wrote will not make people afraid of taking moderate doses of melatonin. I once used OTC sleep drugs, but they gave me dry mouth, fuzzy thinking and impaired balance.
I’ve been able to get the best sleep ever with a moderate dose of melatonin and a change in before-bedtime habits. In addition, I’ve also been able to include vigorous exercise in my daily routine.
Changing Bedtime Routines to Sleep Better:
A. Vigorous exercise is definitely a good way to help keep bones strong. People who exercise usually get to sleep more readily as well (Kelley & Kelley, Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine, Nov. 16, 2016).
There are other evening routines that can also help people fall asleep more easily. A hot bath about an hour before bedtime is beneficial. So is turning off computers, cell phones and other screens at least an hour before retiring.
Does Melatonin Make Bones Stronger?
You are right that there is some evidence that melatonin may improve bone density. A review of research found benefit for bone (Liu et al, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, May 2013). Danish scientists found significant evidence that melatonin could improve skeletal health, but they caution that we need more studies in humans “to find out whether supplementation with melatonin at bedtime may preserve bone mass and improve bone biomechanical competence” (Amstrup et al, Osteoporosis International, Dec. 2013).
More recently, results of a pilot study showed that a nightly supplement containing 5 mg melatonin, 450 mg strontium citrate, 2000 IU vitamin D3 and 60 mcg vitamin K2 significantly increased the density of back and hip bones compared to placebo (Maria et al, Aging, Jan. 2017). We will be on the lookout for further research.
More Information on Sleep:
In the meantime, you can learn more about overcoming insomnia safely in our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. This information is provided as an online resource. If you purchase it, you will be emailed a link just for you that allows you to consult it whenever you wish, as many times as you like. You will be able to read it on any device that you have connected to the internet. We hope you find it helpful.