MMelatonin, a hormone naturally made by the brain that helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles, is one of the most widely used over-the-counter sleep aids. Available in pill, droplet, liquid and chewable form, Americans spent more than $437 million (in 2017) on melatonin supplements, mainly for its sleep-inducing capabilities. But there are downsides to hitting the sack with melatonin, like the risk of headaches and dizziness, a groggy almost hungover feeling come morning, potential nausea, and, when taken in large doses, effects on the ovaries.
Although melatonin is considered natural (synthetic versions do exist, too, which are usually derived from animal glands), some sleep experts suggest avoiding it altogether, instead opting for plant- and herb-based alternatives like valerian root and holy basil leaf, amongst others.
We must admit, we’re not fans of melatonin, either. That’s why we choose to skip using it altogether in MindYourMind. Instead, our efficacious de-stressing and sleep-promoting nutraceutical is powered by 18 clinically proven ingredients, and counts botanicals like tryptophan, chamomile flower, rhodiola rosea root and others to relax the mind and body and set the stage for restful sleep. Here, six other reasons why we went melatonin-free:
- No one wants to wake up with a headache.
While the jury is still out as to whether or not melatonin is helpful in alleviating migraines, if you take melatonin and wake during REM sleep, you could start your day with a headache.
- A drinkless hangover is the worst.
For all that praise melatonin, there are just as many people that disregard its effects and claim that all it’s good for is promoting a hangover-like feeling. And if you’re going to wake up feeling bad in the morning, well, you might as well have had fun the night before. The reason why melatonin can have a drowsy aftereffect is because the body may not entirely process and breakdown the components of the supplement by morning. So, some of the lethargic effects linger.
- If taken at the wrong time, melatonin can majorly throw your sleep off.
The key to melatonin is taking the right amount (about .3mg – 1mg) at the right time (around 7 p.m. when the naturally production of melatonin kicks into high gear). Although it is said to help regulate the sleep cycle, if it is taken too late at night, it can throw your regular sleep schedule out of whack by pushing it in the wrong direction. This can make falling asleep harder than normal.
- It may boost blood sugar levels.
While this isn’t the case with everyone who takes melatonin, short-term use of the hormone is believed to boost blood sugar levels, which is why most doctors advise melatonin not to taken by those who have diabetes.
- It can alter hormone levels.
Long-term use of melatonin can shift hormone levels. In fact, taking too much melatonin for an extended period of time may lead to hypothermia since body temperature drops when melatonin is released. Another byproduct of constant melatonin use is overproduction of the hormone prolactin, which can lead to hormonal problems and kidney issues in men.
- The sleep-inducing effects may backfire.
Most supporters and users of melatonin notice almost immediate effects. But, the longer you use it for, the more likely it is for your body to readjust to the influx of the hormone—it’s almost as if it has an opposite effect with time. That’s because too much melatonin can affect receptors in the body and desensitize the brain, leading to sleepless nights and an insomnia-like effect.