Melatonin Side Effects
When it comes to sleep, and the lack thereof, there are many products available to help you get the rest you need. Here at YourDrug.com, we’ve looked into one of the most popular and discovered the side effects associated with it so you can make an educated decision as to whether or not it’s right for you.
Let’s take a closer look at melatonin.
Having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep can have a negative impact on your daily life, especially if it happens often. The lack of proper rest can weaken your immune system, cause memory issues, cause you to have trouble concentrating and thinking clearly, and lead to some serious accidents and other work-related concerns.
If a lack of sleep is a worry in your life, melatonin treatment might be able to help you. As with any medication, you should always weigh the pros and cons before taking it and consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin, often known as the sleep hormone, is a hormone your body produces naturally that has a big impact on how much sleep you get at night. The small pea-shaped gland in your brain, the pineal gland, is what produces melatonin, and it tells the body when it’s ready to sleep.
We feel tired at night because darkness signals an optic nerve in our body that lets our brain know it’s time to start producing melatonin because bedtime is approaching. During the night when we’re asleep, the pineal gland keeps producing melatonin to keep us asleep.
This usually occurs between 9 pm and 3 am.
Some individuals might consider taking a melatonin medication to adjust their body’s internal clock to change their sleep-wake cycles. Your body likely produces enough melatonin on its own, but if you have trouble sleeping at night, this medication can possibly help you.
What Are Some Common Melatonin Side Effects?
Like most medications, melatonin is not without side effects. Some of the most common users can experience when taking it include:
Some of the less common side effects that people may experience are:
- Reduced alertness
- Abdominal cramps
- Abnormally low blood pressure
- Mild anxiety
- Mild tremors
The melatonin side effects don’t usually occur immediately after taking it unless you’re experiencing an allergic reaction. If you’re having any type of reaction from the medication, it’ll typically take about 30 minutes, or until the medication enters the bloodstream, for them to appear.
If you wake up groggy in the morning after taking melatonin, it could be because you took too high of a dose. When taking the correct amount, you shouldn’t feel like that in the morning.
Rare Melatonin Side Effects
A rare side effect associated with melatonin is an allergic reaction. If you’re having an allergic reaction to taking the synthetic version of melatonin, you may experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in your chest
- Swelling in your hands and/or face
- Tingling in your mouth or tongue
Other rare melatonin side effects include:
- Unusual thoughts and behaviors
- Feeling cold
- Feeling very tired the day after taking it
- If you’re having any of these rare side effects, you should stop taking the medication and consult your doctor.
Are There Long-Term Side Effects or Harm Caused by Melatonin Use?
Since melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in your body, there are no long-term side effects or harm caused by taking it known at this time. When taking it every night, there is very little risk of your body becoming dependent on it.
Taking high doses of melatonin every night for a long time can disturb your sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep when you’re ready for bed.
Melatonin’s Drug Identification Number
Melatonin doesn’t have a drug identification number because it isn’t regulated by the FDA as a sleep aid, rather it’s classified as a dietary supplement. There are various ways you can take melatonin including pills and gummies.
There are many factors that can determine how much melatonin you should take. Even though melatonin is a safe dietary supplement for most people, it’s recommended to start with the lowest dose, which is 0.3 milligrams.
If you find that a dosage that little does not have the desired effect on you, then you can increase it by 0.5-milligram increments.
Most commonly, individuals take between 2 and 3 milligrams, but you can go up to 10 milligrams as needed. You can buy bottles of 10-milligram pills, but again, it’s not recommended that you start at that high of a dose.
Chances are, a very small dose will do the trick.
Is Melatonin Right for You?
Melatonin can be a good fit for you if you need help adjusting your body’s internal clock. Some people benefit from taking this when they must work a different shift and need to sleep at different times.
This supplement is also used to help blind people develop a proper night and day schedule.
There have been some studies that show the melatonin treatment success rate can be high for treating conditions such as jet lag, shift work disorder, and delayed sleep phase disorder.
When it comes to treating insomnia, the studies show there isn’t enough compelling evidence to determine melatonin efficacy. There is a chance it can lessen the time it takes to fall asleep but not enough studies have been performed to verify this.
Melatonin treatment costs are relatively low, making this over-the-counter supplement a popular choice for individuals looking for help falling asleep. A bottle of melatonin typically costs anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on the brand, the dosage, and the quantity.
Since there are various brands that offer melatonin treatment options, it is important to research to find the best one for you. All brands are different so the supplements can vary.
When to Consult or Contact Your Doctor or OBGYN
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking melatonin on a regular basis, you should let your OBGYN know. Melatonin supplements may not be safe for a developing baby so they might want to offer another option for you that would be safer.
You would also want to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing any serious side effects when taking melatonin. This could be due to an existing health condition or an interaction with your medicine.
Risks of Melatonin
It remains unclear if taking melatonin medication poses any risks other than disrupting your sleep-wake cycle. Since it is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain, it does seem relatively safe to use whenever needed.
If you’re prescribed other medications that you take daily, there is the risk of melatonin reacting with them. If you currently take medications that make you drowsy, then taking melatonin can increase the drowsiness.
It’s always to advisable to bring a list of medications to your doctor to find out if you can take melatonin as well without the risk of side effects or any negative reactions.
There is a chance that melatonin can interfere with ovulation, making it more difficult to conceive. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may want to consider alternate ways to improve your sleep.
There haven’t been any studies to determine if taking melatonin while pregnant or breastfeeding is safe. It isn’t known if melatonin enters breast milk at all or any melatonin effects on baby.
If you do become pregnant while taking this medication, a doctor may have you take something else or they may have you take very small doses. Pregnancy side effects of melatonin are unfortunately unknown and there’s no scientific evidence to determine if it poses a risk to a developing fetus.
Melatonin is not a medication regulated by the FDA. It’s classified as a dietary supplement. This means that the dosage is not something we know a lot about, especially how much is too much.
Since melatonin side effects can commonly include drowsiness, it’s not a good idea to take this before driving a car or operating heavy machinery. You would want to take this 30 minutes to one hour before going to sleep for the best results.
Do Not Take Melatonin If:
Even though our bodies produce melatonin naturally, you shouldn’t take the dietary supplements if you have the following:
- Bleeding or blood-clotting disorders
There is a chance that if you have depression and take melatonin, your symptoms could become worse. If you have depression and are having trouble sleeping or staying asleep at night, consult your health care professional before taking melatonin.
If you are a transplant recipient, it’s not recommended that you take melatonin medication because it may interfere with your immunosuppressive therapy.
There are numerous medications that melatonin can interact with. Some of these medications include:
- Birth control pills
- Fluvoxamine or Luvox
- Diabetes medications
- Blood pressure medications
- Medications used to treat seizure disorders
If you’re taking any of the above medications or any other type of medication on a regular basis, your health care provider can work with you to determine if melatonin is right for you or if there’s a better alternative.
What Other Treatments Are There?
Melatonin treatment isn’t for everyone, especially those taking certain medications or individuals that have certain medical conditions. There are a variety of alternatives including:
- Sleep masks – this simple solution is quite effective. By tricking your body into thinking it’s dark, your body will begin producing the melatonin it needs for you to fall asleep.
- Valerian root – dating back to ancient cultures, this sleep aid has been used to help reduce stress and anxiety which can help you fall asleep. Valerian root comes in various forms including teas and capsules.
- Magnesium supplements – magnesium is a good choice for promoting a calming effect on the body which can make it easier to sleep and remain asleep. Magnesium is also good for other things as well including keeping bones strong, supporting muscle function, and easing anxiety.
- Glycine – this supplement is another one that helps make you feel calmer and more relaxed and it’s especially good for helping you stay asleep all night.
- Sleep teas – there are many types of teas available that can help you sleep better at night. Teas can help you relax and prepare your body for bedtime. Some popular types of sleep teas include chamomile and lavender.
- Meditation – some people have trouble falling asleep because they have a lot going on and stress can keep them up. If stress is keeping you awake at night, practicing meditation can help ease your mind and promote relaxation before bed.
How Many Cycles of Melatonin Should You Try Before Moving On?
Melatonin for sleep disorders is a natural and relatively safe method that can help you sleep better at night. Since it is recommended that you start with the lowest dosage possible, you may have to try various amounts to get the intended effect. It can take some time to find the right dosage that works best with your body.
If you find that after taking it for several weeks it’s still not working for you, you can reach out to your doctor to see if there’s something else you can take instead. There is no recommended number of cycles of melatonin to take before you stop trying.
The bottom line is that our bodies typically produce the right amount of melatonin naturally. If you do have trouble sleeping at night, it could be that your sleep-wake cycle isn’t set on the time you need it to be and melatonin treatment can help you with that.
While you cannot get addicted to or dependent on melatonin, it can be easy to get into the habit of taking it every night when that might not be necessary. There are ways to increase the melatonin production naturally, such as with a sleep mask if you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t involve supplements.