Melatonin: Is It Safe To Take Every Night
How does melatonin work?
Natural melatonin is predominantly made in your pineal gland, which is located in your brain. Light exposure inhibits the production of melatonin, but darkness stimulates it.
Melatonin levels in your brain begin to increase at dusk as the sun goes down and darkness falls. They reach their peak levels in the middle of the night and start decreasing as dawn gets closer.
The action of melatonin inhibits signals in your brain that promote wakefulness. This helps encourage sleep by making you feel tired or drowsy as you get closer to bedtime.
Melatonin supplements are used to treat a variety of sleep problems. These can include:
- jet lag
- shift work sleep disorder
- delayed sleep-wake phase disorder
- sleep problems in children with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Are there any risks involved with taking melatonin every night?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most adults and children. However, information on the effects of long-term melatonin supplements is limited.
Some studieshave indicated that long-term melatonin use in adults may cause mild side effects when compared to a placebo. Studies into the effects of long-term melatonin use in children remains limited.
Because melatonin levels naturally decrease at the beginning of puberty, there’s some concern that long-term melatonin use in children may delay puberty onset. However, more research is needed.
What happens if you take too much melatonin?
Melatonin is generally safe. However, mild side effects can sometimes occur, particularly if you take higher doses or extended-release formulations.
The side effects of melatonin can include:
- feeling drowsy or sleepy
- increased urination or bedwetting (children)
Some less common side effects of melatonin include:
- abdominal cramps
- mild tremors
- feelings of depression or anxiety
- confusion or disorientation
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
If you experience side effects from melatonin, stop taking it and speak with your doctor. They may recommend using a lower dose or trying out an alternative medication or sleep aid.