Is It Safe To Take Melatonin Every Night
Heres how long you should actually be using this nighttime sleep aid, according to experts.
A 2016 survey byConsumer Reportsfound that nearly one-third of American adults have trouble falling asleep. Around the same time, theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the same number of Americans get too little sleep overall. And now, were experiencing an ongoing anxiety-inducing, global pandemic, whichsurvey shows has led to even more sleep issues for Americans.
With so many people having trouble sleeping, an increasing number are turning to melatonin, a dietary supplement meant to help with sleep. Dimple Ghassi, MD, an internal medicine physician atAlbany Med, explains that melatonin is a hormone produced by our brains in response to darkness. It helps with your circadian rhythms and with sleep, she says. But, does supplemental melatonin work the same way, and is it really safe to take every night? Heres what the experts have to say.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Melatonin Supplementation
As long as youre taking an appropriate dose of melatonin between one-half and three milligrams for most people, and never more than five milligrams its very unlikely that youll have any serious side effects. However, Vaughn says that certain less-serious side effects are fairly common: headache, upset stomach and worsened mood throughout the day.
Taking more than five milligrams per day can lead to more side effects. Higher doses can cause plasma concentrations to rise three to 60 times normal peaks and produce various side effects like daytime sleepiness, increased prolactin levels, hypothermia and impaired physical and mental performance, Ghassi explains. She also points out that theres a lack of research on the safety of melatonin for pregnant and breastfeeding women, so its best for women in those groups to avoid it.
How To Take Melatonin Every Night
When youre going to learn how to take melatonin, the first two things that you have to worry about is how much and when. The answer to the first question is one half to a one and a half milligrams.
Thats the right dosage to make sure you dont overdose. If you do overdose it, youre going to experience negative side effects.
Now, to answer the when question, you have to first look at what most people do. What they do is take the melatonin pill when they cant fall asleep or late into the night. This is wrong.
The right way to take melatonin is 90 minutes before the time you want to go to bed. This is due to most melatonin pills taking this long to work.
So, what you need to make sure is that you take your melatonin pill of choice 90 minutes before you want to fall asleep.
Also, you need to make sure that you choose a high-quality supplement to make sure that it works and that its safe to take it into your body. The x is a great recommendation. It has rave reviews, making it worth checking it out.
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Taking Melatonin Might Help With Short
Melatonin is a hormone that our brains produce naturally to help us fall asleep. Your internal melatonin factory is triggered by sleep-promoting cues like darkness and laying down, but certain things can get in the way of production.
“Sometimes our bodies create too much wakefulness hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, making it hard to fall asleep with just our own melatonin,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Traveling to a different time zone can throw off the natural release of melatonin too, leading to jet lag.
Melatonin supplements are one natural option that may help with short-term sleep issues that occur when your own melatonin production gets thrown out of whack.
“We routinely use it to help shift the body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock,” explains Shelby Harris, PsyD, a psychologist and sleep medicine expert and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis. “This is for people who can get a full night’s sleep but not on the schedule that they need. We use it occasionally for shift work and jet lag too.”
How To Stop Taking Melatonin
Im not a doctor and I dont have a magic solution for you.
I almost never recommend going cold-turkey on anything .
It just so happened that in my situation, stopping melatonin suddenly and completely made sense since it wasnt helping at all anyway at that point.
If melatonin is still working for you, I recommend back off gradually.
There isnt a specific schedule for how to wean off of melatonin.
- Start slowly taking less than you are taking now.
- You could try cutting the pill in half, or even fourths if you wanted to.
- Take the new dose for a few days , then cut it down again until youre not taking any at all.
Use the sleep tips in this article to start working on ways that will help your quality of sleep in the long run while you are cutting down on your dose.
Its not necessarily going to be easy and there will most likely be some sleepless nights in the process, but its all working toward the goal of giving you a lifetime of better sleep.
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What Medications And Substances Does Melatonin Interact With
Melatonin may interact with several different types of medications, including:
- Blood-thinning medications. Taking melatonin with blood-thinning medication may increase your risk for bleeding.
- Epilepsy medications . Melatonin may make these medications less effective.
- Immunosuppressants. Melatonin can potentially interfere with immunosuppressive drugs.
- Diabetes medications. Melatonin use can affect blood sugar levels.
- Blood pressure medications. Blood pressure may get worse when melatonin is taken with these medications.
- Contraceptive drugs.Birth control pills may increase the risk of side effects from melatonin.
Because melatonin supplements can make you tired and drowsy, avoid mixing them with:
- other sleep aids
Not All Melatonin Supplements Are The Same
Like other supplements, over-the-counter melatonin products aren’t closely regulated.
“There’s variability in what’s even in bottle to bottle and no governing body making sure that what it says on the bottle is actually what’s in it,” Harris says.
All of which is to say: You should do your research on a particular melatonin supplement before buying it. Chamorro recommends seeking out products that have been USP-verified. “This label indicates that the supplement has undergone voluntary testing and it meets US Pharmacopeia Convention standards. Supplements with this seal are more reliable and more likely to provide the potency indicated on the label,” she says.
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It Might Not Work Long
While short-term use has been shown in some studies to help those with sleep issues, there is some evidence to show melatonin may not even work long term. In a 2013 study, participants reported improved sleep after taking supplements for three months, but these improvements werenât felt at the 12 month mark.
However, as with many studies on melatonin, these participants had a health condition, and thereâs not a lot of data on long-term use in healthy participants.
Melatonin Dosage For Older Adults
Our melatonin levels naturally , disrupting the sleep-wake cycles for many older adults. As a result, older adults may have an increased sensitivity to melatonin. In a meta-analysis of 16 studies, melatonin dosages between 0.1 milligram and 50 milligrams per kilogram were administered to older adults aged 55 to 77 years old. In all of the studies, the melatonin levels remained higher among the older adults when compared to younger adults and stayed higher for a longer period of time leading to increased daytime drowsiness. The more melatonin the person took, the more pronounced these effects.
As a result, researchers recommend older adults start with the lowest dose of melatonin possible. Lower doses may help older adults sleep better without disrupting their circadian rhythms and causing prolonged drowsiness.
Older adults with dementia should avoid melatonin, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
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It’s Not Actually Meant To Be Taken At Bedtime
Many other sleep aids are designed to be taken shortly before you want to nod off. But it’s actually better to take melatonin a few hours before you plan to go to bed, because it needs that long to start working.
Try a “tiny” dose several hours before bed “to help gradually shift the body clock,” Harris says.
Is Melatonin Good For Anxiety
Melatonin, a hormone produced by your body, has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety . Supplementing melatonin for anxiety can improve sleep quality, regulate circadian rhythms, and relieve negative emotions associated with anxiety. Your hormone levels play an important role in your emotional state.
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The Dangers Of Taking Melatonin Every Night
The studies on taking melatonin as a supplement concluded that you can safely take melatonin for up to three months.
Anything more than that has not been experimented on.
Its always a good idea to follow this type of recommendation to make sure that youre not actually causing harm to your health instead of making it better.
This means that you can take melatonin every night, but ideally, for not more than three months.
Adjusting To Shift Work
If youâre a shift worker, you may need to quickly flip your days and nights, and it can feel impossible to suddenly be alert through the night and fall asleep in the day. Thatâs where melatonin may help.
One study looked at police officers who took melatonin for a total of 11 days to help them sleep in the morning after a night shift, and then at night once the night shifts were over. They didnât experience any side effects, and they said they slept longer and reported better sleep quality . However, the study was very small â only eight people!
In fact, the National Institute of Health found many studies looking into melatonin use and shift workers were small and had inconclusive results. Light therapy may actually be a more effective tool for shift workers.
So again, the recommendation here would be to take melatonin only short term until youâre adjusted to your new sleep-wake cycle, and look into alternative treatments â like light therapy â to help if youâre constantly switching.
However, not everyone agrees melatonin is suitable for shift workers. Josephine Arendt from the University of Surrey, for example, doesnât because of the risk of accidentally making yourself sleepy or impacting your performance at work if you take supplements at the wrong time.
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When You Take Melatonin Every Night It Could Help Your Skin Look Younger And More Revitalized
When you take melatonin every night, it might provide more than beauty sleep, as it could actually have aesthetic benefits. As a powerful antioxidant, melatonin’s abilities may be useful in treating and protecting your skin and fighting the effects of environmental pollution and stress, according to Elle. As noted by the magazine, melatonin often works with anti-aging ingredients such as retinol and brightening agents like vitamin C and, while many women use products containing the antioxidant in their evening routine, doctors are also urging patients to try applying a topical product with melatonin during the day. The ingredient could also keep you safe from the harmful effects of UV rays.
“Think of it as a potential new sun protection ingredient,” New York City-based dermatologist Ellen Marmur told Allure. “Topical melatonin theoretically might help to intercept UV photons.”
Another reason melatonin is a great skincare ingredient? It’s relatively safe. A study in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment looked at the consequences of applying topical melatonin to 80 percent of the body and found no link to cognitive issues or underlying effects.
What Is A Safe Melatonin Dose
According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses, which is anything between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.
A 0.5 mg dose may be all thats needed for sleep-cycle regulation, and should be taken three to five hours before bed, he says. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is appropriate. Some people report headaches or stomach problems at higher doses, but those side-effects are uncommon, he says.
Still, there are other concerns. Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it, says Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. But its a hormone, and you dont want to mess around with hormones until you know what theyre doing.
People with existing medical problems should discuss melatonin with their doctor before using it. While some research has found that melatonin may help treat hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, for example, other studies have shown that, in diabetes patients who carry certain genetic traits, melatonin may interfere with glucose regulation. Its these sorts of contradictory findings that give experts pause when it comes to issuing melatonin a full-throated endorsement.
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Seek Out Additional Help If You Need It
People sometimes use melatonin as a Band-Aid, rather than addressing underlying issues that prevent them from sleeping through the night. Anxiety and depression can contribute to insomnia, and conditions like sleep apnea can also cause poor sleep.
If youre concerned about your sleep patterns, or find yourself unable to fall asleep each night for a prolonged period, reach out to a primary care physician or sleep disorder specialist. They can screen for any underlying issues and offer strategies for dealing with insomnia, including cognitive behavioral therapy.
Side Effects Of Melatonin
Like any other dietary supplement, melatonin may cause side effects in some peoplepossible side effects include:
Dr. Bollu says drowsiness can mean either excessive sleepiness at night or grogginess the next day. He also adds that interfering with your bodys natural sleep cues may carry another side effect as well.
Taking a hypnotic medication regularly, on a nightly basis, would dampen your innate drive to sleep, explains Dr. Bollu, who adds that although we dont know for certain, this could also be true for melatonin. However,some research suggests melatonin may not dampen this drive in the same way that Ambien, for example, does. When your body recognizes more melatonin in the body, it begins to slow down its own production of melatonin over time. Therefore, short-term use of a melatonin supplement is preferred.
If you experience hypothermia, shortness of breath, chest pain, high blood pressure, or an accelerated heart rate, seek emergency care.
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How Long Does Melatonin’s Effect Last
If you do decide to take a melatonin pill now and then, the timing of when you take it matters.
“Your body absorbs melatonin fairly rapidly, and its half-life meaning the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of what you took is about 20 to 50 minutes,” says Dr. Ramkissoon.
Since its job is to help promote sleepiness, this means you’ll want to take melatonin about 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to fall asleep.
“What you don’t want to do is take melatonin at bedtime since this can shift when melatonin levels peak and, therefore, also when they fall meaning you could be sleepier later into the morning,” explains Dr. Ramkissoon. “Additionally, taking melatonin later than your planned usual bedtime can throw of your sleep-wake cycle.”
Melatonin Dose For Adults
Since melatonin is considered a supplement, its not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . But if youre still interested in using the supplement, in most cases, Dr. Goldman suggests using the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time to achieve your desired outcome. In general, melatonin can be used in two ways.
Taking melatonin as a sleep aid
This method is meant to help you fall asleep faster in a very short amount of time. Dr. Goldman suggests starting with 1 mg, and then increasing that amount by 1 mg every week until youve reduced the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. But you should know, this method isnt super effective because you can easily interrupt the melatonin process.
Its important to note that its really easy to overcome the effect of melatonin, says Dr. Goldman. If you take it and then get on your phone, go on social media, play video games or if you have an overactive mind thats racing or worrying, you will likely overpower the effect of melatonin.
For this reason, its best if you take melatonin when you start feeling tired and make sure you allow your body to be at full rest when you take it.
Taking melatonin to adjust your circadian rhythm
For these more chronic cases, Dr. Goldman suggests working with a sleep medicine physician or behavioral sleep medicine specialist to create a sleep-wake schedule that may include the use of melatonin.
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Is 10 Mg Of Melatonin Too Much
It is important to note that there is no safe dose of melatonin. Generally, the dose for adults is considered to be 1-10 mg . Dose close to the 30 mg mark is usually considered harmful. However, peoples susceptibility to it can change, and some are more prone to side effects at lower doses than others.
Is It Bad To Take Melatonin Every Night
Regardless of whether it truly helps with sleep or not, Dr. Ramkissoon doesn’t recommend taking melatonin long-term.
“Namely, because if you think you need to take melatonin every night to get to sleep, we need to understand why that’s the case,” explains Dr. Ramkissoon.
Is poor sleep caused by a lifestyle habit that needs correcting or some underlying issue that needs to be addressed?
“Melatonin isn’t a long-term fix for sleep issues,” Dr. Ramkissoon adds. “If you’re consistently suffering from insomnia, we need to determine why and find an effective solution for it.”
What’s more is that the safety of using melatonin long-term hasn’t been established in well-controlled studies.
And while the occasional, short-term use of melatonin such as to combat jet leg or adjust to shift work does appear to be safe for most people, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Don’t take melatonin if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. And know that these supplements can interact with other medications, such as some blood thinners, and that they may not be safe to take if you have certain health conditions.
“It’s always important to consult your doctor before taking a new supplement,” adds Dr. Ramkissoon.
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