Updated August 5, 2020Melatonin is a supplement commonly used as a sleep aid and for reducing jet lag. While melatonin supplements have the potential to provide relaxing, sleep-promoting benefits, they’re often misused—they can even produce unwanted, sometimes even dangerous, side effects in others.In this article, we will go over what melatonin supplements are and why they aren’t worth the hype. To help you get better sleep, we’ll also talk about ways to boost your melatonin levels naturally.What is Melatonin?Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland that affects the body’s sleep-wake cycle, also known as its internal clock. Levels fluctuate throughout the day, rising in the evening and dropping lower in the morning. Exposure to light directly affects melatonin production, causing levels to decrease; this is how the body differentiates between sleeping and waking hours.The human body usually produces sufficient amounts of melatonin when the sun goes down to prepare itself for rest. If it fails to do so, however, it can lead to greater difficulty falling asleep. When this happens, people may turn to alternative options to help them get more shut-eye.Melatonin can be found in some fruits and vegetables, including bananas, pineapples, and asparagus. Consuming these foods can help with natural melatonin production. However, melatonin is also synthetically made and widely offered as an over-the-counter dietary supplement.Melatonin UsesMost often, melatonin supplements are used to alleviate sleep-related problems, such as insomnia. It may help with falling and staying asleep. Some people also use it to reduce jet lag as it is thought to increase alertness and mitigate the fatigue often associated with traveling across multiple time zones.While over-the-counter melatonin is popular, we don’t recommend this method. With regular use, it can decrease the body’s natural production of melatonin, making it difficult to maintain a regular sleep schedule.Symptoms of a Melatonin OverdoseAt this time, melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so there aren’t any specific dosing guidelines to follow. However, overdoses are possible and have happened.If you do try melatonin supplements for sleep, here are some signs that you’re experiencing a negative reaction:NauseaDizzinessHeadachesIrritabilityAnxietyGastrointestinal upset and/or crampsJoint painMild tremorsLow blood pressureTemporary feelings of depressionIf you experience any of these unwanted side effects, contact a physician as soon as possible.If you believe you may have overdosed on melatonin and are experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain, and/or a rise in blood pressure, get in touch with your local poison control or 911 for emergency medical services, as these are serious symptoms.Melatonin affects each and every person differently. Some are highly sensitive to it, while others may experience little effects or hardly even notice a difference. Variations in weight and age can play a role in how the body responds to it.The greater the dosage, the greater your chances are of experiencing unwanted side effects. When too much melatonin is consumed, it can be counteractive and cause difficulty sleeping. Additionally, it may increase the chances of experiencing nightmares and/or very vivid dreams.Melatonin and Medication InteractionsCertain prescription and over-the-counter medications can produce unexpected and/or negative effects when taken in combination with melatonin. Here are some of the most common ones below, as identified by Mayo Clinic: Immunosuppressants: When used in conjunction with melatonin, these medications may stimulate the immune system and interfere by reducing the drugs’ desired effects.Anticoagulants (blood thinners): These are designed to decrease the clotting of blood; Combining anticoagulants with melatonin can be counteractive, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.Blood pressure medications: Melatonin supplements have the potential to increase and worsen blood pressure. Therefore, for those who have hypertension, it should be avoided.Diabetes medications: Melatonin is linked to increases in blood sugar (glucose) levels. For this reason, diabetics are advised against taking the supplement.Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications): When there are high amounts of melatonin in the body, the anticonvulsant becomes less effective at managing seizures in epileptics.Depression medications (SSRI’s and CNS): Melatonin can cause sedative effects when taken with depressants, leaving individuals feeling very drowsy.Melatonin Overdose TreatmentIf the melatonin overdose is an emergency situation where the patient is having chest pain or trouble breathing, medical professionals will focus on stabilizing their condition.Treatment could involve reducing your dosage significantly or stopping the usage of melatonin altogether. If you are suffering from sleep disturbances, your physician can point you in the direction of ways to improve your sleep naturally.Natural Tips for Better SleepThere are several natural ways to improve sleep quality and produce greater amounts of melatonin on its own without the use of supplements.Increase Melatonin NaturallyYou can increase melatonin levels naturally with sunlight exposure and diet:Sunlight: Getting exposure to daylight in the morning and/or afternoon helps the body to differentiate between waking hours and sleeping ones. To produce higher levels of melatonin, try going for a walk outside or doing some work in front of a bright, sunny window.Foods: Turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, almonds, and oats are all high in the amino acid tryptophan which converts into melatonin. There are also fruits and vegetables that contain melatonin—pomegranate, bananas, pineapples, olives, asparagus, corn, and cucumbers are all good choices. For best results, you will want to consume these foods several hours before your bedtime so that they release in the evening as you prepare for sleep.Make Bedroom Comfortable for SleepThe bedroom environment can play a large role in one’s ability to fall asleep. Cool, dark, and quiet is best.Darkness and cool temperatures promote relaxation and sleepiness. Set the thermostat that feels best for you; for most people, this falls somewhere between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.Choosing the right bedding and sleepwear can make a big difference in regulating your body temperature as well. Bed sheets made from natural fibers such as cotton, Tencel®, and bamboo, are highly breathable and comfortable. Sleepwear material should be loose-fitting, lightweight, and airy—cotton and linen are optimal choices.If needed, it can help to use blackout curtains, earplugs, or eye masks to block out any ambient light and noise, too.Keep the Lights LowArtificial light from electronic devices can suppress natural melatonin. To keep this from happening, you will want to put away all devices that emit light, including mobile phones, televisions, tablets, and computers at least two hours prior to going to sleep.Dimming the lights in your home as you approach bedtime may help as well.Cut Down on Caffeine IntakeCaffeine is a stimulant that increases activity in the central nervous system. As a result, it produces feelings of alertness and excitability.When consumed too late in the day, caffeine is likely to interfere with the body’s ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you should avoid drinks and foods that contain caffeine about 6 to 7 hours before bed. This provides adequate time for its energizing effects to wear off completely.Create a Soothing Bedtime RoutinePartaking in a relaxing activity before bed will help the mind wind down. Taking a warm bath or shower at night is one great way to do so. If done consistently, with time, the action will begin to signal to your brain that it’s nearing time for rest.Exercise Regularly Early in the DayExercise offers many wonderful health benefits, including improved sleep. In a 2015 study conducted on the relationship between exercise and sleep, researchers found that exercise training resulted in significant improvements in sleep quality for the middle and older-age adult participants.30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day is recommended. It’s also ideal to work out early in the morning or afternoon.FAQsWhat are the cons of taking melatonin?Taking melatonin can lead to various negative side effects including dizziness, headaches, irritability, nausea, anxiety, and stomach cramps.When used habitually, melatonin supplements may also interfere with the body’s natural melatonin production. As a result, it may be increasingly difficult to maintain consistent sleep and wake times.In severe cases, it could cause shortness of breath, chest pain, and/or significant changes in blood pressure. If this happens, it is vital to seek medical attention immediately.How can I boost my melatonin naturally?To increase the body’s ability to produce melatonin on its own, you can try eating tryptophan and melatonin-rich foods. Bananas, cottage cheese, pomegranates, and turkey are all great choices.Getting exposure to light during the day and minimizing it as you approach bedtime can also help regulate melatonin production.How much melatonin is too much?Any amount of synthetic melatonin can impact the natural production of the hormone and overall sleep schedule. Because of this, we advise against taking it as a supplement.Reactions to melatonin are very different from one person to the next. Therefore, there is no defined answer for what is considered “too much”. Generally, you will want to begin by taking the lowest possible dosage to first see how your body reacts to it. You can increase it gradually from there. However, please note that it is not recommended to take more than 5 mg of melatonin in 24 hours.Does melatonin make you sleepy?Yes. People who use melatonin supplements often report feeling drowsy and/or relaxed afterward. Instead of taking a synthetic version, it’s best to boost melatonin levels naturally to achieve sleepiness. Eliminate night-time light exposure and follow good sleep hygiene to help melatonin do its job.How many MG of melatonin is safe?Since melatonin is not FDA-regulated, there is no guideline for what constitutes a safe dosage. To avoid experiencing any negative effects, we recommend not taking it at all.As an alternative, you can try natural methods for getting better sleep such as light therapy and eating tryptophan-rich foods to boost the body’s melatonin production.ConclusionTaking melatonin supplements generally causes more harm than good. Since it is not regulated by the FDA, people often end up taking higher quantities than necessary which can lead to feeling groggy and/or reliant on caffeine in the mornings. Additionally, it may disrupt your natural sleep-wake cycle.There are many natural, effective ways to help boost your body’s melatonin production instead. With a few lifestyle adjustments such as getting outside for natural light exposure throughout the day and creating a soothing sleep environment, you may be able to fall asleep more easily.If, after making these changes, you’re still experiencing poor sleep, it may be time to reach out to your doctor for additional guidance.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.