If you’ve had a restless night or two, it’s likely you’ve reached for a melatonin supplement to help you catch some Zzz’s.
This sleep aid may help put symptoms of insomnia, jet lag, and other occasional sleep concerns to bed. But if you’re having trouble sleeping every night, is it safe to keep taking melatonin?
Here’s what might happen if melatonin’s your solution for nightly sleep probs.
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that your body produces to promote tiredness. The amount your bod makes works in tandem with your circadian rhythm and is triggered by light and dark. This makes you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.
Melatonin supplements essentially provide a boost to get the same wind-down results. So, even though the body naturally produces melatonin, folks may use a supplement for a little extra help with:
Melatonin is considered safe for nightly use in the short term, but that doesn’t mean you should take it every night.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about melatonin’s effectiveness and dosage, and there isn’t a lot of info about how it can affect you in the long-run.
A 2021 research review pointed out that the longest studies using melatonin don’t go past 6 months. But these studies also found promising results where short-acting or prolonged-release melatonin didn’t give folks side effects like withdrawal or rebound insomnia.
And, the recent research review above mentioned that people with actual medically diagnosed sleeping disorders don’t really benefit from using melatonin and the sleep aid doesn’t help folks fall asleep faster.
So, while you *can* take it every night for a little while, melatonin and other sleep aids shouldn’t be a Band-Aid for chronic sleep conditions.
Feel like one dose isn’t doing the job? Or accidentally took extra? Taking another dose of melatonin most likely won’t hurt you, but it may up your risk of side effects like headaches, nausea, tummy troubles, or even low blood pressure.
That said, if a normal dose of melatonin isn’t working for you, you should chat with your doc about other sleep solutions. You shouldn’t just keep taking more melatonin to fall asleep.
TBH, there isn’t a solid answer as to how much melatonin you should take, and research varies on what’s considered a safe amount.
When it comes to kiddos, a 2016 research review noted that dosage depends on their age. Since there aren’t any solid guidelines for how much melatonin is safe for kids, always check with a doctor first.
While melatonin is generally safe to take, there are some potential side effects if you take higher doses or extended-release capsules.
Melatonin side effects can include:
You may also experience less common side effects like:
Stop taking melatonin and give your doc a call if you experience any side effects.
If you’re taking large dosages of melatonin every single night, it’s possible you can overdo it and wreck your sleep even more.
While there’s no “official” overdose amount, too much melatonin can actually disrupt your circadian rhythms and make it harder to snooze.
A melatonin overdose may lead to other side effects like:
- daytime fatigue
- nightmares or vivid dreams
- joint pain
- changes in blood pressure
If you experience any of these, stop taking melatonin and talk with your doctor ASAP.
You should also avoid taking melatonin or talk with your doc if you have:
- autoimmune conditions
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- seizure disorders
- allergies to melatonin
Melatonin can also interact with certain meds, so talk with your doctor before using it if you’re taking:
- natural or prescription sleep aids
- epilepsy medication
- diabetes medication
- blood thinners
- blood pressure medication
- hormonal birth control
- central nervous system depressants
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
You should also avoid mixing melatonin with alcohol, so skip it on nights you decide to imbibe.
It’s time to talk with your doc if you’re:
- finding it hard to fall or stay asleep regularly
- having sleep issues that affect your day-to-day activities
- feeling sleepy during the day often
- taking melatonin (or another sleep aid) and it either isn’t working or it’s causing side effects
Your doctor will examine your sleep habits, lifestyle choices, and overall health to help you get to the bottom of your sleep probs.
From there, they’ll work with you to set up a treatment plan that’s best suited to your needs. This may mean medication, changes in your sleep routine, diet changes, exercise, or other strategies to put you on the path for sleep success.