Melatonin: 5 Myths and Misunderstandings
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter-like hormone produced in the pineal gland of our brains that plays an important role regulating our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is essentially the internal or biological clock of physiological processes like sleep patterns, hormone release, body temperature, and metabolism.
When we get to the module about optimizing sleep quality with our Migraine Freedom coaching clients, questions about melatonin come up on nearly every call. There are a lot of misconceptions about melatonin, and we’d like to debunk some of the myths and misunderstandings we hear! Perhaps some of these have been nagging you as well…
Myth 1: Melatonin will make me go to sleep.
Melatonin isn’t a sleep aid in the way that sleeping pills are, it basically just resets the body’s internal clock. So for healthy individuals, melatonin would only be necessary:
– after shift work or recovering from jetlag, to help your body adjust to a new sleeping pattern.
– after highly stimulating or light exposing activities in the late evening hours, such as a night out dancing or going to a movie. Over stimulation or excessive light in the evening can actually be melatonin suppressing, and melatonin supplement would help kick-start your body’s own natural production to prepare for rest.
Typically, a melatonin supplement is not beneficial for general insomnia. 1
Myth 2: I will get addicted to melatonin and my body will stop making it.
It’s not so much getting addicted, but there are experts who say that taking melatonin constantly and in large amounts will desensitize the receptors. Researchers at MIT showed that a 0.3mg dose of melatonin is enough to have the desired effect of improving sleep, yet melatonin supplements are often sold in doses as high as 3 or 5mg! Unless this is a prolonged release formula, you may want to stick to the 0.3mg supplements and if they don’t do anything for your sleep – look for other causes and solutions. 2
If this resonates with you, check out my book Supercharge Your Sleep where we dig a little deeper into sleep habits for better quality sleep.
Myth 3: Melatonin makes me feel groggy in the morning
While a “melatonin hangover” could potentially be a side effect of taking too much supplemental melatonin, melatonin itself doesn’t make you sleep. However – if you start sleeping deeply and haven’t been in a while, your brain has a lot of toxins to clear.
Brain cleansing happens during deep sleep when the brain volume shrinks as much as 60% to allow glymphatic fluid to exchange and carry out toxins. Having these toxins suddenly dumping into the rest of the body can cause grogginess, stiffness and other “side effects” we can experience from supplemental melatonin. 3
Myth 4: If I don’t have sleep problems, I don’t need to worry about melatonin.
Melatonin also has a role as an antioxidant, anti inflammatory, stimulator of bone growth and immune-regulating hormone. It has also been shown to help people healing from stomach ulcers and reduction of Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Myth 5: Melatonin is sold over the counter so it is always safe to take.
Melatonin isn’t for everyone, and can have negative effects on certain people.
A study published in the October 2007 issue of the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” demonstrated that rheumatoid arthritis actually worsened in study subjects who took supplemental melatonin. This finding surprised and disappointed the study’s authors, who thought supplemental melatonin might benefit people with autoimmune diseases. However, these results mirror more recent research published in May 2014 in the “Journal of Immunology Research,” which confirms that high levels of melatonin seem to worsen rheumatoid arthritis by stimulating immune cells to release inflammatory cytokines.
Also, like many supplements, it’s not clear that it is safe during pregnancy. Did you know women’s melatonin levels rise and fall during their menstrual cycle!?
Melatonin is also know to counteract blood thinners, immunosuppressants and medications for diabetes and birth control.
You can see why it’d a good idea to check with your doctor before starting to use this supplement!
If you’ve been using melatonin as a sleep aid and continuously struggle to get quality sleep WE CAN HELP! Check out our ebook Supercharge Your Sleep to read about our sure-fire habits to optimize your sleep.
OR let’s set up a case review to dig a little deeper uncover your root cause problems to your sleep problems.
Using melatonin as a sleep aid but continuously struggle to get quality sleep? WE CAN HELP!
Check out our ebook Supercharge Your Sleep to read about our sure-fire habits to optimize your sleep.