Melatonin Side Effects: What Are The Risks
As with any supplement or medication, there are always certain side effects you should know about.
There are some potential minor side effects to melatonin use, including dizziness, headache, nausea, drowsiness and agitation. Overall, no matter the dosage, these supplements are generally safe when taken on a short-term basis. However, long-term consumption may reduce the bodys ability to naturally produce this hormone.
Park explained that there have been a few studies that focused on the safety of melatonin, but none have produced evidence of harmful side effects.
For pregnant women and children, research regarding the effects or risks of melatonin is just amping up. Melatonin supplements are generally accepted as safe for children over the age of four, and some research suggests that it has a number of benefits for children who have autism or ADHD.
Regarding pregnant women, the research is mixed. Some research has shown that taking melatonin helps protect the fetus brain, but an animal study connected the use of melatonin to low birth weight. Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about the possibility of taking any supplements.
Although melatonin is a natural hormone, some may wonder how it interacts with other medications, particularly anti-anxiety or antidepressants. For instance, one common question is whether you can take melatonin and Xanax together?
Side Effects Of Melatonin: 8 Groups Should Avoid Taking Melatonin
September 28, 2020// by Terry Cralle//
Melatonin, also known as the hormone of darkness is a hormone responsible for the regulation of your sleep-wake cycle. However, promoting and regulating sleep is only one of its physiological functions.
This hormone plays an important role in bodily functions, the functions of organs like the kidney or liver, and helps regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular issues. Melatonin is also shown useful in cases of tumors and cancers, where it prevents oxidative stress to promote the growth of cancerous cells.
Now, all of this sounds rather impressive, and sure enough, because melatonin is a naturally produced hormone coming from the very brain, no one would suspect it harmful. However, melatonin supplements, on the other hand, are raising some eyebrows in the medical community.
Over the past few years, melatonin supplements have been studied concerning their possible side effects. Turns out, melatonin intake can cause a dozen of adverse effects, which can pose a long-term danger. In the following paragraphs, well take a look at the major side effects, every melatonin producing company would hide from you. So, lets get started!
How Light Therapy Works
Light therapy is thought to work by simulating the sunlight that is missing during the darker winter months.
The additional light encourages your brain to reduce the production of melatonin and increase the production of serotonin .
Altering the levels of melatonin and serotonin that are released into your body during the winter months can help to ease your symptoms of SAD.
However, this is based on the assumption that the condition is caused by a lack of light and the effect that this has on the hormones that are released in your brain.
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When To Steer Clear
Certain people should be more cautious about melatonin use, particularly if it triggers a negative reaction, including those with:
- Chronic insomnia. Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep that lasts a month or more shouldn’t be managed with melatonin, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American College of Physicians. These groups recommend other more proven remedies , noting that there is not enough evidence that melatonin is safe and effective for long-term use.
- Restless Legs Syndrome . The tingling or “creepy-crawly” feeling in the legs that often keeps people awake could be worsened by melatonin. The supplement can intensify RLS symptoms because it lowers the amount of dopamine in the brain, according to the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation. If you’ve been diagnosed with RLS or suspect that you have the condition, talk to your HCP about lifestyle changes or medications that could help.
- Dementia. This progressive cognitive deterioration is often associated with insomnia, which can tax both patients and their caregivers. But melatonin may do more harm than good among those with dementia since the condition causes people to metabolize the supplement more slowly, resulting in daytime drowsiness. In people with moderate or severe dementia, melatonin supplementation may increase the risk of falls, according to 2015 guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
If you’ve been drinking alcohol, it’s also not safe to take melatonin.
Melatonin Supplements: What Do I Need To Know
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that participates in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness. It also has antidepressant action.
In depressed patients, melatonin levels are much lower compared to healthy people. This seems evident, especially in those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder . Melatonin exerts its antidepressant effects by modulating serotonergic and dopaminergic activity. Again, this shows there is a melatonin depression nexus.
In recent years melatonin supplements have been suggested as being helpful for people who have insomnia, depression, mood disorders, alzheimers disease, parkinsons disease, ADHD, seasonal affective disorder , and other sleep-wake rhythm disturbances. It is also an antioxidant that could be effective in treating and protecting against many of the symptoms associated with aging.
Some people have suggested melatonin may be effective for these conditions by itself, while others have suggested melatonin works by increasing the effectiveness of the antidepressant medication. So, patients need to respect the melatonin depression dynamics by taking appropriate medicine.
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Creepy Things Melatonin Does To Your Body
Plenty of people who struggle to get enough sleep turn to melatonin as a safe and natural sleep aid. However, not everyone is familiar with the creepy things melatonin does to your body. Really, the way this hormone can affect you is kind of wild.
First, it’s helpful to understand more about this sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body regulate sleep, as explained in the Mayo Clinic. Its production in the body is linked to the time of day, and it increases when it’s dark outside. For people who are struggling with issues such as jet lag or insomnia, taking a melatonin supplement can help them drift off to sleep.
Although it’s a naturally occurring hormone, there are still some unexpected ways melatonin can affect the body. To learn more, Romper spoke with One Medical Provider, Dr. Navya Mysore. For the most part, it’s a safe and useful supplement for many people. “I do recommend melatonin for patients struggling with sleep issues as a short-term solution. I think melatonin can be useful for short periods of time when trying to catch up on sleep as one tries to figure out the source of their insomnia,” says Dr. Mysore. But this doesn’t mean it’s a perfect solution to all sleep issues. Read on to find the possible downsides that can happen to the body when you take melatonin.
Counselling And Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Counselling is another type of talking therapy that involves talking to a trained counsellor about your worries and problems.
Read more about counselling.
During psychodynamic psychotherapy, you discuss how you feel about yourself and others and you talk about experiences in your past.
The aim of the sessions is to find out whether anything in your past is affecting how you feel today.
Read more about psychotherapy.
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The Melatonin Side Effects You Should Know About
Yes, it could cause insomnia.
If youre like the 88 percent of women regularly not sleeping through the night , youve probably found yourself looking for alternatives to counting sheep.
Last year, the National Institutes of Health reported that 3.1 million Americans used melatonin supplements to fall asleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by your brain that helps regulate your circadian rhythm, or when your body wants to wake up and go to sleep, says Jocelyn Cheng, M.D., a neurologist at NYU Langone Health.
Studies have actually shown that melatonin can help people with sleep disorders fall asleep anywhere between 27 and 50 minutes faster.
But before you go buy out your local vitamin shop’s stock, remember: A supplement is not a regulated drug, so theres always a question as to whether youre getting what it claims to be, warns Rachel Salas, M.D., a neurologist with a focus on sleep disorders and sleep medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
One study actually found that 71 percent of melatonin supplements did not meet the claims on the label, with some listing up to five times the amount of the hormone than it actually contained. Look for supplements displaying seals from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention or NSF International so you know the manufacturers are legit.
Of course, like any drug or supplement, melatonin can come with some side effects.
Who Shouldnt Take Melatonin
When considering all the side effects and possible melatonin interactions with certain medication, the following groups should avoid taking melatonin
- People suffering from inflammatory or autoimmune diseases,
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women,
- Ovulating women trying to get pregnant,
- People who have responsible jobs, where sleepiness and drowsiness can cause possible safety problems,
- People with epilepsy or a history of seizures,
- People with mood, behavior, or personality disorders,
- People with bleeding disorders,
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What Are Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin needs vary from person to person. On average, most people need less than 3 milligrams per night to sleep better. Yet some people take more.
Melatonin is generally safe, but some people are more sensitive to the oral hormone and experience side effects with use. Adverse effects tend to occur with long-term use or when a person takes too much.
Possible side effects of oral melatonin include:
If you experience side effects of oral melatonin, reduce your dosage to see if symptoms improve. Everyones body is different. So while one person may be able to tolerate 3 mg a night, another person may be able to tolerate only 1 mg.
Can You Use Melatonin For Anxiety Heres What The Experts Say
Melatonin supplements have been used for decades to promote sound, natural sleep. Whenever we have trouble getting shut-eye, this natural hormone thats also produced by our brains pineal gland can come to the rescue.
While melatonin may help combat sleep problems or even sleep disorders, recent clinical trials suggest this natural hormone can improve anxiety disorders too. Some believe this is because melatonin improves sleep, which reduces anxiety, while others suspect melatonin may directly impact anxiety symptoms to counteract this mental health disorder.
So, whats really happening beneath the surface? Read on to learn how melatonin may help your anxiety, how you can use it, what potential side effects it may have, and more.
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Different Forms Of Anxiety
Its important to keep in mind that anxiety is an umbrella term used to describe conditions that are characterized by feelings of worry, anxiousness, or fear that impact your daily life. While some evidence suggests melatonin administration may help with anxiety, its not yet clear what forms of anxiety can be treated.
For this reason, its important to speak with your doctor before taking melatonin for anxiety. A healthcare professional is better equipped to understand the causes of your anxiety and work through them with you.
Does Melatonin Make Depression Worse
Your body follows a circadian rhythm, a series of sleep-wake cycles that are regulated by your brain. In some individuals, this preset system is faulty, which can cause sleep problems, fatigue and even depression. Melatonin is a hormone in your body that works to help regulate your internal rhythm. Some take it to help with sleep problems, others for mood, but before you consider taking this, you should be aware of the side effects, such as depression. Before taking any supplement, always consult with your doctor.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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Dangerous Interactions Could Occur
The supplement could also interfere with other important medications, including blood thinners, diabetes drugs, immune system-suppressing drugs, anti-seizure drugs and some contraceptives. If you’re taking any type of medication, it’s important to talk to your HCP before taking melatonin or any other dietary supplements.
Why Melatonin Is Bad For You
If its all natural, why is melatonin bad for you? my mom asked, when I expressed my concern with this supplement after learning that she takes it on-and-off for her insomnia. Boy, have I got a blog post for you! I replied.
In short, melatonin is a hormone that correlates with sleep cycles and plays beneficial roles in numerous physiological functions. But melatonin supplements are neither a safe, natural nor effective solution to insomnia.
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Treatment For Seasonal Affective Disorder: Light Therapy
The mainstay of winter SAD treatment is light therapy, otherwise known as phototherapy. Light therapy aims to replace the missing daylight of winter by exposing you to bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Daily exposure can suppress the brains secretion of melatonin to help you feel more awake and alert, less drowsy and melancholy.
Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of SAD cases. However, the timing and length of exposure needed can vary according to your symptoms and circadian rhythm, so youll need guidance from your doctor or mental health professional to find the right dosage. Your doctor or therapist can also help you choose a light therapy product thats both effective and safe.
Light therapy has to be continued daily throughout the winter months to be effective. Starting light therapy before the onset of symptoms in the fall may even help prevent seasonal affective disorder.
How To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light therapy is a highly effective treatment for SAD for most people. It basically involves sitting next to a special type of light box that emits a broad spectrum of light for 30 minutes or so. Here are some guidelines for picking out a good one.
When scientists thought that SAD was simply caused by insufficient light exposure, they recommended doing this twice a day, extending the day in the morning and in the evening. But now, it’s generally thought that a morning dose of light right when you wake up is best for synchronizing your circadian rhythms with the time you actually spend awake.
For the minority of SAD sufferers that are misaligned in the opposite direction that is, their internal clocks think it’s nighttime before they actually go to sleep light exposure therapy in the evening, rather than the morning, is best.
In either event, you should talk to your doctor if you think you have SAD. Melatonin tests can confirm a diagnosis and indicate which way you need to shift.
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Is Jet Leg An Exception
While I do not recommend ever taking melatonin to induce sleep, I think using a melatonin supplement for jet lag is a grey area. Jet lag is an extremely stressful situation from a physiological perspective, and should be minimized or avoided whenever possible. Taking a melatonin supplement the first night of your arrival in a new time zone might help your body shift its circadian rhythms. However, I would never personally take melatonin for jet lag due to the problematic aspects discussed here.
Do Exogenous Melatonin And Melatonin Agonists Have Therapeutic And/or Prophylactic Effects On Depression
In a series of elegant experiments, Nagy et al. showed that de 24-h pattern of the dorsal raphe 5-HT reuptake in C57BL/6J mice under shortened photoperiods may be altered at the transcriptional level by specifically timed melatonin. The data suggest that daily melatonin treatment can induce and sustain receptor 5HT1A mRNA expression throughout the light phase. In the same line, Otsuka et al. , using the same mice, showed that daily melatonin treatments 2 h before the end of the light phase can restore the amplitude of the daily rhythm of 5-HT contents in the amygdala. In models with higher face and construct validities, such as the chronic unpredictable mild stress , melatonin at high concentrations showed antidepressant-like effects, preventing the CUMS-induced decrease in norepinephrine content and the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine-b-hydroxylase and norepinephrine transporter in the adrenal medulla , as well as depressive-like behaviors, such as impaired sucrose intake, physical coat deterioration, and decreased grooming .
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How Seasonal Affective Disorder Works
SAD was first identified in the 1980s, and initially many scientists thought it was simply caused by insufficient sunlight exposure during the short days of winter.
Here was the idea: Normally, our brains produce the hormone melatonin at night, which makes us drowsy. Then, in the day, exposure to sunlight suppresses production of melatonin. For people living in northern latitudes, the thinking went, the short days of winter led to excessive melatonin production, ultimately causing SAD. This was known as the .
However, over the past decade or so, researchers have largely ruled out this theory and instead support a slightly more complex one: the phase-shift hypothesis.
Every morning, when sunlight first hits special receptors in your eyes, it suppresses your melatonin production by signaling to your body that it’s time to wake up. This daily occurrence is responsible for setting your body’s internal clock, housed in an area of your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
During the winter, as dawn gets later and later, your circadian rhythm naturally shifts later. “Unfortunately, this puts out of phase with our actual sleep-wake cycle, because we get up at the same time year-round,” Lewy says.
“this puts our circadian rhythms out of phase with our actual sleep-wake cycle”
Because some people wake up before dawn during the winter, our bodies don’t get sunlight at the right time to correctly calibrate their circadian rhythms every morning.