Plenty of people who struggle to get enough sleep turn to melatonin as a safe and natural sleep aid. However, not everyone is familiar with the creepy things melatonin does to your body. Really, the way this hormone can affect you is kind of wild.
First, it's helpful to understand more about this sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body regulate sleep, as explained in the Mayo Clinic. Its production in the body is linked to the time of day, and it increases when it's dark outside. For people who are struggling with issues such as jet lag or insomnia, taking a melatonin supplement can help them drift off to sleep.
Although it's a naturally occurring hormone, there are still some unexpected ways melatonin can affect the body. To learn more, Romper spoke with One Medical Provider, Dr. Navya Mysore. For the most part, it's a safe and useful supplement for many people. "I do recommend melatonin for patients struggling with sleep issues as a short-term solution. I think melatonin can be useful for short periods of time when trying to catch up on sleep as one tries to figure out the source of their insomnia," says Dr. Mysore. But this doesn't mean it's a perfect solution to all sleep issues. Read on to find the possible downsides (or just weird things) that can happen to the body when you take melatonin.
1Stops Working In The Light
This hormone is super sensitive to changes in light and dark. "Melatonin stops production when we are exposed to light. So, the more exposure to light we have at night, the more our natural melatonin production is disturbed, resulting in a more disturbed sleep cycle," says Dr. Mysore. This doesn't only mean sunlight, so it's a good idea to reduce your screen time at night as well.
2Body Temp Drop
If you feel cold all the time, then this side affect may be concerning. Taking melatonin supplements may result in a slight drop in body temperature, as explained in Healthline. Although this isn't a serious health concern, it may annoy people who have trouble staying warm.
Headaches are another potential side effect of melatonin supplements, as Dr. Mysore explains. It's one of the reasons she does not recommend it as a long-term solution to sleep problems.
4Boosts Blood Sugar
If you have diabetes or other health concerns with blood sugar, check with your doctor before taking a melatonin supplement. As it turns out, melatonin can boost blood sugar, as Dr. Cathy Goldstein explained in WebMD. This is not great news for anyone who works hard to keep those levels in check.
Taking the supplements can also lead to mood fluctuations, as Dr. Mysore explains. For people who already struggle with maintaining a stable mood, this is likely an unwelcome side effect.
For some, taking this supplement results in some less-than-sweet dreams. Some people report having vivid dreams or even nightmares while taking melatonin, according to Everyday Health. It seems a little cruel that something meant to help you sleep can make that sleep so unpleasant or weird, but it's just a potential side effect.
Granted, this is one of the rarer side effects. But some people do report short-lasting feelings of depression after taking melatonin, according to the Mayo Clinic. But it's safe to say no one wants to deal with feelings of depression, even on a short-term basis.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people report feelings of anxiety after taking melatonin, as Dr. Mysore notes. Paradoxically, anxiety can lead to even more sleeping problems, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It's kind of a cycle. Although it can offer short-term relief for people dealing with sleep issues, melatonin is not without its potential side effects.