People hail melatonin as the new natural cure for sleep issues, but melatonin isn’t something to be taken lightly. It does have its uses and for some can be a huge relief, but too much of a good thing can still be harmful, and even dangerous.
As good as your sleep gummies might taste, always follow the recommended dose because you can in fact overdose on melatonin.
What is Melatonin and How Does It Work?
Melatonin has been around for years and yet, only recently have people begun to discover it. However, even now, many people don’t really have an understanding of melatonin and what it does.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces and is primarily responsible for supporting your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is also known as your body’s internal clock, which helps your body regulate your sleeping schedule.
Your body produces melatonin naturally, but some people don’t produce enough of it or need additional help to balance their internal clock. That’s where melatonin supplements come in.
How Does Melatonin Work?
People who use melatonin supplements do so because they need help regulating their sleep schedule -- falling asleep when they want and staying asleep for an appropriate amount of time. Some of these people could include those with insomnia or sleep apnea, people with jet lag, or those who have naturally low melatonin.
Factors that can cause naturally low melatonin are:
- Old age
- High stress levels
- Mental health issues
- Not getting enough sunlight
- Being exposed to too much blue light (from screens such as phones and laptops)
- Drinking too much alcohol
Melatonin, both naturally produced and supplemented, works by binding receptors that help tell your braina and body it’s time for bed. This helps convince your body it’s time to sleep, without shutting it down or sedating you like other sleep aids.
How Do You Take Melatonin?
The best dose of melatonin is the lowest dose that can provide relief without side effects. For adults, the correct dosage is usually in between 2 and 5 mg, but you can check with your doctor or check the label for the recommended dosage. Melatonin supplements usually come in the form of either gummies, tablets, or sprays.
For our sleep gummies here at Hope Health, the recommended dose is 1-2 gummies taken before bed for adults.
After taking the melatonin, monitor yourself to see how you react to it for around 1-2 weeks. If you have not noticed a positive change in your sleeping habits, consult your physician for additional options in getting some shuteye. However, if it does work, it’s a good practice to continue using it for one to two months to try and help get your body into a regular sleep schedule.
Who Should NOT Be Taking Melatonin?
Although melatonin can be a great choice to help aid your sleeping habits, there are some people who should not take it.
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Your melatonin levels during pregnancy are very important and can vary greatly during the different stages in your pregnancy. It is very important you do not take melatonin supplements and mess with your natural production. Additionally, although more research needs to be done, the artificial melatonin can be transferred to the fetus and then again later to the baby through breastfeeding. This can cause issues with their own melatonin production and could possibly cause issues with their growth.
Children (unless under direction of a doctor).
There is not enough evidence to show that melatonin does not harm or influence the growth of a child and is therefore not recommended for them. However, some doctors do recommend its use if other options are not available, so as to avoid potentially harmful drugs.
People with other health issues that require medication.
As with other types of supplements, melatonin can interact with certain medications in potentially harmful ways. They can lead to unwanted side effects or can neutralize the efficiency of one or all of the supplements and medications being taken.
If you still want to explore the possibility of taking melatonin under these conditions, you must have a discussion with your doctor first. Those with autoimmune diseases and those who take medications for mental health should be the most wary.
Is It Possible to Overdose on Melatonin?
Technically, yes, you can overdose on melatonin.
You can overdose on lots of things you wouldn’t expect. For melatonin, it can be hard to diagnose an overdose because doses depend on the person. Height, weight, age, and medical history can all play into how much melatonin you can take.
Overdose symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Anxiety or mood changes
If you or someone near you has an overdose, call poison control and then 911 immediately, especially if you have chest pain, hypertension issues, and shortness of breath.
In all likelihood, it is not likely to have medical problems as a result of regular melatonin use, but as with many things, it could happen and everything should be treated with caution.
It is important to keep in mind that melatonin is a dietary health supplement and although it is regulated by the FDA, it has much less restrictions than prescription medications. Therefore there are much fewer guidelines to follow and it is easier for companies to hoodwink you into buying an inferior product.
That is why you should always check the ingredient list of your chosen melatonin and why you should take the smallest recommended dose possible.
Are There Alternatives to Melatonin?
The best way to try and achieve better sleep is to do it naturally. Unfortunately, not everyone has that option and need to use aids like melatonin. However, on the flip side of that, not everyone can take melatonin.
So what should you do?
Instead of taking melatonin or other supplements, you can try to make lifestyle changes that’ll help your sleep schedule.
These changes aren’t too invasive, but do require consistency.
You can try to limit how many naps you take and for how long they last (around 30 minutes is best).
Additionally, having a good diet and consistent exercise can be helpful, especially when you limit late-night eating.
Something else you should restrict is the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume.
Limiting screen time before sleeping can be helpful too, as can dimming the lights in your evenings. Your body can react to light as if it's daytime, so lowering the amount of light will help convince your body that it’s close to nighttime and time to sleep.
Are There Other Uses for Melatonin?
Melatonin has a few other uses other than helping out your circadian rhythm. These include:
- Providing antioxidants
- Regulate body temperature
- Regulate hormone levels (especially growth hormones in men)
- Aid eye and ear health
Yes, you can technically overdose on melatonin. It is relatively unlikely but if you show any of the symptoms you should still call poison control and 911.
Not being able to sleep well can be hard, but your overall health should be a main priority. If you feel like you want to start melatonin, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor or another health official first. If not, be sure to buy melatonin that isn’t counterfeit and to follow all of the guidelines for taking it.