Melatonin can be a great solution for many individuals who have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. But did you know that taking melatonin can have a negative impact on your Z's? We spoke to the experts and found that taking melatonin can give you crazy dreams and more. So if you've ever wondered why you've had some pretty bizarre dreams—or even nightmares—after taking this supplement, read on to learn why.
What exactly is melatonin?
According to Dr. Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., sleep expert to Oura, melatonin is a natural hormone you have in your body. Your brain creates and releases melatonin just a few hours before you head to sleep, increasing at nighttime and decreasing during daylight hours, the Mayo Clinic explains. As you grow older, the production of melatonin in your body is reduced. Dr. Robbins tells us melatonin is typically referred to as the "Dracula hormone" because it works at night, helping you snooze into Dreamland. Melatonin is also offered as a supplement you can take to enhance the benefits of sleep.
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Melatonin can give you crazy dreams.
Melatonin is not always the dream supplement you would expect it to be.
According to Dr. Robbins, "While the use of melatonin supplements has increased significantly in the past decade, use has significantly outpaced our ability to understand the long-term implications of melatonin supplements. There is evidence, however, in the short term, that use of melatonin supplements is associated in certain groups with adverse outcomes, like nightmares."
To that point, Dr. Abhinav Singh (MD, FAASM), medical review expert at SleepFoundation.org and medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center adds, on the one hand, taking melatonin as a supplement can sometimes facilitate feeling tired and falling asleep a little faster. On the other hand, melatonin can cause "vivid, sometimes unpleasant dreams."
He adds, "Note that relying on it as a sedative may not be the best advice for the long term. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, then it's time to seek medical attention."
How can you tell if melatonin is working for you?
Dr. Robbins reveals how to tell if you're actually sleeping restfully after taking melatonin. She suggests using a sleep-monitoring device which can be useful when tweaking your routine to sleep better.
"Tracking can give you a sense of how those changes impact your sleep, if other aspects of your day are held constant," she adds.