Melatonin Side Effects: The Pros & Cons of This Natural Sleep Aid
Melatonin is one of the mostly commonly recommended natural solutions for getting a better night’s sleep.
But what does it really do? And does it have side effects?
Today, I’ll break down the pros and cons of this natural sleep aid and share some tips on what to look for in a quality melatonin supplement.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. Some call it “the sleep hormone” because it plays a key role in helping you fall asleep.
So you may wonder, “Why take it as a supplement if it’s already found in your body?”
Because other hormones, like cortisol, and daily substances, like caffeine, can alter your body’s production and absorption to your natural melatonin.
In fact, your body heavily relies on light-dark cycles and your circadian rhythm to know when to create melatonin. Typically, your body will begin to produce melatonin 12-16 hours after you wake up. If you want to anchor this creation cycle even more, one thing I recommend is trying to get some sunlight on your skin first thing in the morning.
One of my close friends is huge into biohacking. And he says, “If you want a good night’s rest, never miss a sunrise.”
And what he means is, you need to be up, moving, and getting sun on your skin to signal to your body, “This is the time I’m up, and I want to be in bed 12-16 hours from now.”
So how do you know if your melatonin production is off?
Well, if you’ve ever laid in bed, ready to go to sleep … but you find yourself just counting sheep, there’s a good chance your natural melatonin may be off.
This is why many people reach for melatonin in supplement form — it can serve as a kickstart to your body's natural sleep cycle.
The pros and cons of a melatonin supplement
Like anything that influences your body and mind, pros and cons exist.
So we’ll look at the pros and cons of melatonin so you can get the truth about this powerful natural sleep aid.
The first pro of melatonin is, it’s effective. There’s evidence that melatonin can provide powerful support for resetting your body’s internal clock. And when taken at the appropriate time, it can improve sleep.
Another huge pro of melatonin is that it’s generally safe for short-term use. Unlike sleep medications, melatonin is unlikely to create dependency.
Lastly, it’s commonly available. You can pick melatonin up in virtually any grocery store or online. And nearly 3 million people each year actually use it for this very reason.
So in general, melatonin is a great alternative when you need a helping hand in falling asleep.
However, some cons exist as well.
First, while short-term use of melatonin can be great, long-term use can have an impact on your hormones. Because remember, it is a hormone, and hormones almost always influence each other. Taking melatonin may help you sleep but it could also affect your cortisol levels and certain sex hormones.
When other hormones get out of balance, this can make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. That’s one of the reasons you want to take it in smaller doses, blended with other natural ingredients, that will assist your body in falling and staying asleep naturally.
The second con is that it’s harder to find a quality supplement. Many companies white-label bottles of cheaply made melatonin. And some don’t even contain the right amount of melatonin to even be effective. While others contain way too much!
So while you may fall asleep faster, you’ll end up feeling foggy and groggy the next day as your body works to bounce back from such a high dose.
That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for in a quality sleep aid supplement.
3 Keys To Buying A Quality Melatonin Supplement
- First, try to stick to just 1-3 milligrams of melatonin. That’s just enough to signal to your body that it’s time to rest without creating a “hangover-like fog” the next day.
- Try to find a sleep aid that’s blended with other natural ingredients, such as L-theanine, 5-HTP, and B-6. These can all help your body use the melatonin it produces naturally so you don’t become too dependent on a single melatonin supplement.
- Lastly, because melatonin only helps you go to sleep, choose a sleep aid that contains ingredients that also help you stay asleep. I like to make sure whatever I take also includes GABA. This is the main calming agent in the body. It assists with the ability to get to sleep. And, more importantly, stay asleep so you can feel the effects of a full night’s rest.
So what’s the verdict on melatonin supplements?
Melatonin is a great natural sleep aid, but with some important caveats. In general, if you’re looking for a short-term solution to battle jet lag or readjust after a few sleepless nights, it can be a good option.
But if you’re wanting a long-term sleep solution that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, make sure you’re looking for a supplement that has the ingredients I mentioned.
I recommend Pillow-Eaze, which includes ingredients that help you fall asleep and stay asleep.