Can You Stop Melatonin Nightmares
There are 2 keys to stopping melatonin nightmares. The first one lies in regular nightmare treatment. Heres what the mayo clinic has to say about lifestyle remedies for treating nightmares:
The second key has to do with melatonin itself. I did a lot of research on how to invoke melatonin dreams. So it makes sense that if you want to not have them, you just need to do the opposite.
Tips To Stop Those Vivid Bad Dreams
If youre convinced melatonin is the cause of your vivid dreams or nightmares, but dont want to completely cut it out of your routine, try these tips:
- Take melatonin 1 hour before bed. This may help you better relax and destress before you snooze. Plus, itll give melatonin time to do its thing before tempting you to reach for more. Just get the A-OK from your doctor first.
- Unwind before you snooze.Meditate, do some yoga, journal, or read your favorite book. Anything that helps your body and brain slow down.
- Keep a dream journal. Write down your dreams and nightmares, keeping track of the nights you took melatonin, and what might have happened during your day to influence your dreams. This can help you assess the connection.
- Try therapy. If youre dealing with anxiety or trauma. Speaking with a therapist may help you process your feelings and worries that follow you in your sleep.
More Dream Opportunities With Melatonin
Additionally, melatonin may inadvertently lead to stranger dreams because it may simply allow you more opportunities to dream in the first place.
Think about it melatonin helps you sleep longer than you normally would in many cases. By allowing you to get more sleep, you also have more time to dream. More time to dream necessarily means that the odds of experiencing a weird dream from time to time go up.
But even with these potential effects, melatonin doesnt last very long. Upon ingesting a melatonin supplement, for example, your body will absorb the hormone within 20 minutes or so. Your brain burns through melatonin rapidly, so its unlikely that melatonin supplements have long-lasting effects, especially as your sleep cycles continue.
In summary, there isnt any evidence that melatonin directly causes you to experience strange dreams. But because melatonin helps you sleep more and because it may extend your REM sleep, your brain might simply have the opportunity for stranger dreams more frequently than it would normally.
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How Does Melatonin Affect Your Dreams
According to Catherine Darley, N.D., of The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine, Inc., there is some research to show that by affecting the circadian rhythm, melatonin promotes more time in REM sleep, which is the sleep stage most associated with dreaming. As such, Darley tells mbg the body’s natural stores of the hormone can create “a big change in our dream experience” by potentially evoking more vivid dreams.
That being said, the jury’s still out on whether or not taking a melatonin supplement gives you crazy dreams. According to Darley, there isn’t enough solid research to suggest that taking melatonin would lead someone to have more odd dreams than usual.
However, if you’re taking melatonin to get back on track after a period of suboptimal sleep, Medina tells mbg it is possible to have some weird dreams when you start sleeping more through the night. It’s also possible that someone taking melatonin would experience odd dreams because melatonin can lead to overactivation in different parts of the brain.
Indeed, recent research shows that over the last 20 years, taking more than 5 milligrams of melatonin per day has become more common in the U.S. This raises some safety concerns, as experts agree that taking high doses of any hormoneâespecially one that is as widespread as melatoninâcan throw off your body’s natural hormone production.
When Should Melatonin Not Be Used
As mentioned above, children lose sleep for many reasons. Avoid melatonin:
- if the insomnia is situational
- if the insomnia is short-term
- if the insomnia is due to an underlying physical cause
- if your child is younger than 3.
Melatonin should never substitute for healthy sleep practices: a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtime routine, no caffeine, and no electronics or screens before bedtime.
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What Exactly Is A Melatonin Supplement
Firstly, lets understand the basics of what melatonin is. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone or chemical messenger that is made in the brain inside the pineal gland. Your brain then uses it to then help regulate your 24-hour body clock, known as the circadian rhythm.
Melatonin sends messages to the rest of your body, telling it that its time to sleep and helps regulate your internal clock. The hormone melatonin is released when the sun goes down and causes drowsiness. Around two hours after melatonin is released in your body, your body is ready to go to sleep. When the sun rises and youre exposed to the sunlight, your melatonin levels fall, telling your body it’s time to wake up and get moving.
This is why melatonin is nicknamed the “Dracula of hormones” because it rises in the dark and drops during the day.
Pure melatonin supplements are believed to function in a similar way to the natural hormone melatonin we just talked about. Supplemental melatonin assists us in creating drowsiness and getting ready for sleep. Studies have backed this, with supplemental melatonin being shown in multiple studies to increase sleep propensity.
Furthermore, while sleeping pills usually put you to sleep by using sedative-hypnotic effects, melatonin supplements dont sedate you. Technically, supplemental melatonin tricks your body into believing its time for sleep, making for an even more natural sleep solution.
Does Melatonin Make You Have Nightmares
Some folks have difficulty sleeping because they experience recurring nightmares or night terrors. Naturally, youll want to know whether melatonin gummies or other nighttime sleep aids could exacerbate your nightmares.
Unfortunately, there isnt much research looking into how melatonin might affect how often you experience nightmares or how intense those dreams might be.
For now, it doesnt look like melatonin causes you to have nightmares. However, if you are already prone to nightmarish dreams and take a melatonin supplement, giving your brain more opportunities to dream might also increase how many nightmares you experience.
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Being In The Dream Stage Increases Your Chances Of Having Bizarre Ones During Sleep
More REM sleep gives you more chance to dream, Pelayo said. And most dreams are bizarre. Thats the best explanation I can think of for this phenomenon.
Kothare suggested that dreams may be generally incoherent because REM sleep is an evolutionary phenomenon that arises from our most primitive, reptilian brain, and not from the prefrontal cortex, which facilitates rational thought.
If people are bothered by bizarre dreams when they take melatonin, Kothare suggested they try using a lesser dose.
I suspect that the incidence of bizarre dreams would probably decrease over time, as someones sleep schedule becomes normalized, Pelayo said.
Its worth noting, finally, that you shouldnt rely on melatonin as a generalized sleep aid to treat insomnia, but that it can help reset your bodys internal clock.
Melatonin Helps People Reach The Rem Sleep Stage Which Is When Dreaming Can Occur
Dr. Rafael Pelayo, a Stanford University professor of sleep medicine, said he doesnt think melatonin causes vivid dreams on its own.
Who takes melatonin? Someone whos having trouble sleeping. And once you take anything for your sleep, once you start sleeping more or better, you have whats called REM rebound, he said.
This means your body catches up on the sleep phase known as rapid eye movement, which is characterized by high levels of brain-wave activity.
Normal subjects who take melatonin supplements in the controlled setting of a sleep lab do not spend more time dreaming or in REM sleep, Pelayo added. This suggests that there is no inherent property of melatonin that leads to more or weirder dreams.
Dr. Sanjeev Kothare, a pediatric neurologist and a New York-based Northwell Health physician, agreed that melatonins role in REM sleep could contribute to the dreams.
Melatonin invariably causes more REM sleep, a normal circadian phenomenon that is used to consolidate some forms of memory, he said. One way this happens is through dreams, which is why people who start taking melatonin experience more dreams.
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What Are Common Themes In Bad Dreams
According to psychology researcher Geneviève Robert, common nightmare themes are death, health concerns, and threats. She adds that men tend to have more disaster-related scenarios such as floods, earthquakes, and war. However, womens narratives are typically centered around interpersonal conflicts.
Reasons To Be Cautious About Melatonin
Your sleep-deprived friends may swear by it and you’ve probably read about it online or seen it on drugstore shelves. But is melatonin all it’s cracked up to be, or are you better off just counting sheep to get some ZZZs?
First, the basics: Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain that your body uses to help regulate your circadian rhythm. That’s the 24-hour body clock that, among other vital functions, tells you when to sleep and when to wake up each day.
Your body gradually starts making melatonin about two hours before bedtime, bringing on that familiar drowsy feeling, and production continues throughout the night. In fact, melatonin is often called the “Dracula of hormones” because levels rise when it gets dark outside. As sunrise approaches, levels begin to drop, letting you know it’s time to rise for the day.
Given melatonin’s essential role in the body’s internal clockworks, many people assume the supplement is safe. This may be one reason why it has become the fourth most popular supplement among U.S. adults, according to a National Health Interview Survey. Its use doubled between 2007 and 2012, as more than three million adults reported taking the sleep aid.
And it is true: Melatonin is generally harmless – at least if you take it for a short period of time.
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You Ate A Huge Spicy Meal For Dinner
Certain foods can impact how easily you drift off to dreamland. But foods that cause a fitful nights sleep dont just leave you tossing and turning. They might make for a crazy night of dreams, too.
Anecdotally, plenty of people report having weirdly vivid dreams after dining on something spicy or heavy. Some experts suspect that this could be because fiery foods raise your body temperature, which can cause you to have worse sleep. If youre slightly more conscious, you might be more likely to remember your dreams more clearly, Stanford University sleep expert Emmanuel Mignot told the Wall Street Journal.
Other experts chalk the effect up to meal size. The more you eat, the harder your body has to work to digest all of that fooda process that can make it harder to achieve restful sleep, University of Chicago psychiatrist Lisa Medalie told NBC News.
What Can Help My Teen Sleep
Talk to your teen about setting regular bedtimes and wake-up times. Decide when your teen needs to get up for school in the morning and count back at least 8 hours from there.
Encourage your teen to wake up and go to bed at about the same time each day. On weekends, teens should try to stick to their sleep schedule as close as they can. Going to bed much later and sleeping in on weekends can make it harder to sleep well during the week.
Keeping these tips in mind can help your teen get a good nights sleep:
- Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
- Dont keep a TV or video game system in the bedroom.
- About an hour before bedtime, have your teen put away homework and turn off TV, computers, and handheld devices. Consider turning off cellphones or charging them outside the room.
- Encourage your teen to do something relaxing, like taking a warm bath or reading before going to sleep.
- Help your teen limit caffeine , especially in the late afternoon and evening.
- Do not give your teen sleeping pills or other sleep aids unless your doctor says it’s OK.
- Teens who are very tired during the day can take short naps in the early afternoon. Longer or later naps make it harder to fall asleep at night. Encourage regular exercise, which can help teens sleep better.
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I Was Taking Melatonin Every Day
I have taken a very low dose of melatonin almost every night since college.
It worked great for me!
Over that decade, I slowly increased my dose from 3 mg to 5mg.
I popped a pill about an hour before bedtime and it would get my just drowsy enough to fall asleep at the same time every night without giving me any lingering grogginess the next day.
BUT I have basically spent the last decade messing up my bodys natural sleep cycle.
And about a month ago, the unthinkable happened
Sleep Tip #: Nightmares
Nightmares can be such a nightmare. If you or your kids have nightmares often here are some tips and tricks to help prevent nightmares from occurring and/or reoccurring.
Whatâs the difference between a nightmare and a night terror?
Nightmares typically occur in REM sleep while night terrors occur within the first 90 minutes of falling asleep. Night terrors can typically jolt you awake paired with screaming, sweating and increased blood pressure. Only about 4-5 percent of adults experience night terrors. As much as 85 percent of adults experience nightmares.
What causes nightmares?
Some common causes for nightmares are eating late at night, stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, sleep disorders and even some drugs.
How can I help prevent nightmares?
Leave at least two hours between eating and going to bed. As mentioned in sleep tip #1, eating before hitting the hay can have some negative effects on your sleep.Dr. Charles Bae, sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic said, eating snacks late at night can increase your bodyâs metabolism and temperature resulting in more dreams. Your brain will work much more during sleep if your metabolism is increased, and this is the time when your brain should be âresting.â
Stay away especially from candy bars right before bed. One study showed that 7 out of 10 individuals who ate junk food, candy bars included, were more likely to experience nightmares than those who donât eat junk food.
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What Should You Do If You’re Experiencing Nightmares
Everybody has nightmares every now and then, but if you’re experiencing them regularly and they’re affecting the quality of your sleep, you should talk to your doctor.
“In general, if you are taking any OTC or prescription medication that is producing unpleasant side effects, it is appropriate to talk to your doctor about how to safely discontinue,” Dr. Medalie said. She added that regular nightmares can be cause for concern, regardless of whether you’re taking melatonin or some other supplement or medication. “If nightmares occur outside of taking melatonin, they might be a symptom of either post-traumatic stress disorder, or even nightmare disorder,” Dr. Medalie explained. “Those who have a history of trauma may experience flashbacks during sleep , which can cause insomnia, sleep loss, and elevated distress.” In that case, it’s important that the underlying cause be treated.
Again, if these healthy habits aren’t enough to help you get restful sleep, talk to your doctor. The solution may be as simple as incorporating some soothing stress relief activities into your evening routine, or your doctor may prescribe a different medication or therapy to help. But, no matter what, you shouldn’t have to suffer. Good sleep is important, so don’t give up!
Experts Explain Why You Might Experience An Uptick In Nightmares While Taking Melatonin
If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep at night, chances are someone has recommended that you try melatonin. This over-the-counter supplement can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle when taken about an hour before bed. But while melatonin is popular, it could also have some unintended side effects and experts generally agree that it isn’t a long-term solution to your sleep problems.
One of the more surprising side effects of taking melatonin? Nightmares. Here’s why they happen and what you can do to get a more peaceful night’s sleep.
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Dont Watch Or Read Scary Content Before Bed
Since our nighttime observations can appear during sleep, spend some energy engaging with things that are more emotionally neutral or even positive before bedtime, Martin suggested.
During the pandemic, our everyday lives are looking pretty scary, too. Reading the news media and then hopping into bed is more likely to trigger disturbing and upsetting dreams than looking through pictures from your last vacation with your family, she added.
Dreams Arent The Only Sleep
As we covered above, plenty of factors can contribute to weird and uncomfortable dreams, ranging from stress to diet.
However, there are even more things to consider when trying to get a better, deeper 8-hours of sleep each night.
Most things youve probably heard of, such as limiting the amount of blue light before bedtime to avoiding spicy foods and sugary or caffeinated drinks.
However, the quality of your mattress matters as well. It isnt as common knowledge, but the best mattress for you could depend on your sleep style. For example, the best mattress for side sleepers tends to be a softer bed, as the extra cushion helps contour to side sleepers hips and shoulders.
About the author
Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimers and sleep. Geoffs passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.
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