If you've ever struggled to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, you've probably tried a ton of different options, from sleeping pills, to teas meant to help lull you to sleep and many thing in between. And if your difficulty sleeping is a chronic problem, chances are pretty good that you've given melatonin a try at least once or twice as well. Though melatonin is commonly considered to be pretty safe, with minimal issues or side effects, there are some unexpected side effects of taking melatonin that you need to know about if you want to take it or if anyone close to you uses it regularly.
Melatonin isn't a medication. In fact, your body already naturally produces it. It's a hormone that's made by the pineal gland, as WebMD noted, and is also found in extremely small quantities in some produce, like cherries. That's why you'll sometimes see people and articles recommend that you make cherries your pre-bedtime snack, if you feel like you need to eat a little something. The idea is that maybe they'll help give your body a little boost and help your melatonin kick in and regulate your sleep and wake cycles, allowing you to drift off to sleep without much of an issue. Whether you regularly reach for the bottle of melatonin or you've hemmed and hawed over whether or not to try it for yourself, there are some ways that it can affect you — outside of your sleep — about which you need to know.
1. It Might Help With Bone Health
It's probably fair to say that you didn't have any idea that melatonin could potentially affect the health of your bones and teeth. A 2013 paper published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences noted that melatonin might help boost bone and teeth health, though more research is likely needed. It's thought that melatonin can aid in bone formation and that too little melatonin might be linked to bone disease. So while you shouldn't start taking it specifically to help with your bones, that could potentially be an unintended effect.
2. It Might Help You Lose A Few Pounds
Melatonin is not a weight loss supplement and shouldn't be used as such, but if you're taking it, it could potentially help you lose a few pounds. Dr. Michael J. Breus, PhD, a sleep expert, wrote in a post for Psychology Today that researchers in Spain and Texas found that an increase in melatonin increased beige fat in rats. Beige fat can help burn fat, so if it's found that melatonin can have similar effects in humans, it might help adults slim down. That being said, again, much more research is needed.
3. It Might Delay ALS Symptoms
In a 2013 study published in Neurobiology of Disease, researchers found that melatonin helped with motor skills and helped stave off the onset of ALS symptoms in mice. Though the results are, of course, still preliminary, you never know what scientists might discover in the future.
4. It Could Cause Headaches & Dizziness
Have you ever had a headache or experienced dizziness the next day after taking melatonin to help you sleep? In a different article, WebMD noted that while melatonin is typically considered safe for most people, it can potentially cause headaches and dizziness. If you experience these side effects, you might want to talk to your doctor because a melatonin supplement might not be a good solution for you.
5. It Could Affect Your Blood Pressure
You might not have ever considered that melatonin could affect your blood pressure, but it actually could. A post on Five Star Nursing's website noted that overdoses of melatonin, which can occur relatively easily if you take too much of it, can potentially result in severely high blood pressure, which is dangerous. If you're on blood pressure medication and having trouble sleeping, you might want to speak with your doctor to find a safe solution.
6. It Could Make Anxiety Worse
If you have anxiety, too much melatonin could make things worse. In the previously-mentioned post from the Five Star Nursing website, anxiety was cited as a less-severe potential side effect from too much melatonin. If you, yourself have anxiety, however, you might not think that it's no big deal.
7. It Could Make You Grouchy
WebMD noted that melatonin can also make you irritable. Though that might not bother you all that much, it'll certainly have an impact on everyone that has to work with you, be around you, or otherwise interact with you.
If you're going to take melatonin, make sure there aren't any reasons why you shouldn't take it and always only take the recommended amount.
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