Melatonin Cause Nightmare: Melatonin has a reputation for promoting restful sleep when taken as a supplement. However, a side effect of melatonin use that may be worrying is the prevalence of reports of having vivid or unpleasant dreams.
Our discussion with behavioral sleep medicine psychologist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, focused on the physiological effects of melatonin and potential negative effects.
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Everything to know about melatonin
Melatonin, sometimes known as the “sleep hormone,” serves as an internal alarm clock as well as a turn-down agent. You begin to feel sleepy and more relaxed as your melatonin levels rise.
Melatonin levels that are declining indicate that it is time to get up and shine. Melatonin, according to Dr. Drerup, “helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.”
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood and is linked to positive emotions, is used to make melatonin. Your pineal gland, a tiny, oblong-shaped gland in your brain, is where this synthesis takes place. The amount of melatonin produced by the pineal gland varies throughout the day.
According to Dr. Drerup, light induces the pineal gland to cease making melatonin while darkness causes it to begin. Melatonin assists in regulating circadian rhythm and synchronizing our sleep-wake cycle with the length of the day as a result.
Because of this, you begin to feel sleepy as soon as it gets dark or experience afternoon drowsiness in the winter when the sun sets sooner.
Melatonin levels would ideally coincide with the presence of daylight. However, conditions that disturb your sleep habits, such as stress, smoking, and shift work, can cause a reduction in melatonin levels.
The glow from your phone or tablet’s screen can also lower melatonin levels if you often scroll through it at night. Lower melatonin levels are also linked to less exposure to natural light during the day.
Timing of melatonin onset is important for sleep support, according to Dr. Drerup. Most people’s bodies naturally make enough melatonin to aid in sleep.
In fact, studies have shown that adults who suffer from circadian rhythm sleep problems, such as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder and jet lag, benefit the most from increased melatonin levels.
Do melatonin-induced dreams turn bad or vivid?
In general, if you’re concerned or stressed out, you might have more vivid dreams. A rise in vivid dreams and or nightmares can also be attributed to some sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, and drugs like beta blockers and antihistamines.
But Dr. Drerup questions if taking more melatonin before bed results in unpleasant or Melatonin cause nightmare. She claims that there is inconclusive research regarding how exactly taking melatonin supplements affects dreaming.
Reasons why taking melatonin may cause you to experience vivid dreams
After taking melatonin, if you experience unusually disturbing or vivid nightmares, this may be your body’s normal reaction to getting into a deeper, more peaceful slumber.
Melatonin has been shown in studies to increase REM sleep, the stage of sleep known for producing vivid dreams.
According to Dr. Drerup, having more disturbing or vivid dreams may result from spending more time in the stage of sleep where they are most likely to happen.
Vasotocin, a protein that controls REM sleep, is also released by the body when you sleep, she continues. “Higher levels of vasotocin may result from increased melatonin, resulting in greater REM sleep and possibly vivid dreams.” Additionally, researchers are looking into how melatonin affects memory.
A 2020 study discovered that one of the chemicals produced when melatonin was broken down in the body helped mice have better long-term memory.
What negative consequences might melatonin have on the body?
Dr. Drerup advises taking 1 to 3 milligrams of melatonin per night, depending on your dosage. Melatonin is typically safe for the majority of people, however taking it in excess can have negative side effects.
Common side effects from taking melatonin include:
Less common side effects from taking melatonin include:
- Temporary feelings of depression.
- Mild anxiety.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Reduced alertness.
- Low blood pressure.
A question mark also surrounds the melatonin’s potential long-term effects. Dr. Drerup asserts that there is “very little evidence on the use of melatonin beyond a few months.”
Despite the fact that many people use melatonin for far longer than that, it has often only been approved for use for up to three months.
However, the FDA doesn’t regulate melatonin because it is marketed as a nutritional supplement. This implies that what is sold as melatonin may actually be quite different.
According to a 2017 study, 71% of dietary supplements had less melatonin than was claimed on the label. Supplements were found to contain fillers, preservatives, or even serotonin, which can be toxic in large concentrations, according to research.
Additionally, although though melatonin is commonly accessible over-the-counter, Dr. Drerup advises consulting your physician before beginning to use it, just like you would with any other dietary supplement.
“It’s best to verify, especially if you have any medical conditions, and also so your doctor can analyze any potential drug or supplement interactions,” advises the author.