Doctor explains the medical risks linked to taking melatonin for sleep

Health Stuff TO Know

Doctor's Opinion

Sarah asked me about a new study. She's no different than the millions of Americans out there that have sleep problems. And, yes, she too is taking way TOO much melatonin.

She wanted to know: “Can I overdose on it?”

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Risks of MelatoninHealth Stuff TO Know

Yes, you're taking too much melatonin.

My friend, Sarah, has been experiencing hot flashes at night, and sometimes these flashes wake her up. But, the truth with my friend is that she’s never been a good sleeper. She’s a self-proclaimed night owl.

I want you to know that in the last few years, the use of Melatonin supplements by Americans has increased 5 fold! - Dr. Puja

Most of us are actually taking WAY more melatonin than what’s actually safe for us.

I told my friend that melatonin is actually a hormone. One of the most important things about hormones is that they are tricky.

Natural hormones, like melatonin & over-the-counter supplements, will harm your body’s natural hormone balance if taken in excess.

Recommended doses of melatonin are from 0.5 mg up to 3 mg, which are adequate to promote sleep or treat jet lag. - Clevaland Clinic

Too Much Melatonin Keeps You Awake

Did you know, for example, that taking too much melatonin can actually cause paradoxical effects on sleep? The hormone disrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythm & can make it MORE difficult to fall asleep.

Of course, very few people know this. You can bet Sarah was shocked and surprised.

Melatonin may stay active in older people longer than younger people and cause daytime drowsiness. - National Institues of Health

Too Much Melatonin Harms

Melatonin in excess can also have a direct impact on our sex hormones.

  1. In men, there's quite a bit of data that supports that melatonin overdose can lower a man’s sperm count & libido.
  2. In women, there's quite a bit of data that shows that melatonin can affect our menstrual & ovulation cycles.
  3. In children, there’s quite a bit of data that supports that melatonin can affect their puberty.

Mental Health

One of the most important things about melatonin overdosing is that it can cause mental health problems. Of course, this brought pause to my friend. She felt that her proactivity taking excess melatonin would bring her good sleep and no harm.

I reassured her that even though her intentions are admirable; she can’t always trust things she reads on the Internet. Even though every other commercial touts the enticing benefits of these supplements--it doesn't mean that they're entirely safe.

Caution ahead! Some more sleeping tips here.

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Health Stuff TO Know provides digestible health & medical news from doctors. Expert information on the day's top health news. Dr. Puja Uppal is a board-certified physician. Dr. Uppal is Chief Medical Officer of Health Stuff TO Know & ThinkHealthy

Michigan State
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