Melatonin is the best friend of sleepyheads and insomniacs. But did you know that you can actually OD on melatonin? Or, can you? Well, don’t worry because everything you need to know about it, from information on melatonin to melatonin overdose, we have it all right here to help you out!
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your body tends to produce organically; it is produced by a gland in your brain, known as the pineal gland. However, it is also generally found in other parts of your body including your marrow, gut, and even your eyes! And as it is monumentally responsible for the regulation of your circadian rhythms and the synchronization of your sleep-wake cycle, it is also very commonly known as the “sleep hormone”. The functioning of this hormone is quite intriguing – darkness indicates the pineal gland to start with the production of melatonin, however, light obstructs that procedure and brings a halt to that production.
When your melatonin levels are low and your brain isn’t producing enough of the hormone, then you are highly likely to experience restlessness, a weak stress response, and even insomnia. This tends to happen because your body is dependent on melatonin for sleep to a great extent and if that does not happen or your body’s needs aren’t fulfilled adequately and you develop a melatonin deficiency, then you fail to achieve the amount of sleep your system requires, as a result of which, your sleep-wake cycle tends to get disrupted. So, many individuals go for melatonin supplements in case of a deficiency of the naturally occurring hormone. People also take it to tackle other sleep problems. But, like every other drug/supplement, this one has its pros and cons too:
Benefits of Melatonin
According to doctors, melatonin supplements have a plethora of benefits:
The first and the principal advantage of consuming these supplements is that it helps to improve your sleep to a great extent. If you’re having trouble falling and/or staying asleep, then take 1-3 milligrams of melatonin supplements 1-1.5 hours before you plan on sleeping, and see the magic unravel as you have a sound sleep. To insomniacs and people with jet lag, this is often like a knight in shining armor!
Melatonin is also rich in antioxidants which is why it is very beneficial for your eyes as it keeps them healthy by preventing cell damage.
- It Keeps your Anxiety Levels in Check
Once you start sleeping better, you start to function better. But providing you with a better quality of sleep is not the only thing melatonin supplements are good at. These have also been seen to ease negative feelings connected to anxiousness. Say ciao to your anxiety and hola to good sleep! So, it is pretty much safe to take these supplements, however, there are certain negative effects of it too.
Side Effects of Melatonin
If you are already on some prescribed medication, you might want to consult your doctor before taking melatonin supplements because it might react with those medicines and prevention is always better than the cure. Take a look at some of the most commonly seen negative effects of melatonin:
- Frequent and/or severe headaches.
- Stomach cramps.
Other less common side effects of the drug include:
- Confusion or disorientation.
- Mild tremors.
- Mild anxiety.
- Joint pain.
- Feelings of depression (these are generally short-lasting).
- Low blood pressure.
- Reduced alertness/difficulty focusing.
Also, as melatonin is likely to cause daytime drowsiness, it is strictly inadvisable to use machinery or drive within 5 hours of consuming the supplement. Now arises a question of great importance, can you overdose on melatonin or not? Well, let’s find out!
Can you Overdose on Melatonin?
As long as you are consuming these supplements in a prescribed/recommended amount and keep your intake in check, then you’re going to be just fine. Melatonin overdose is not going to help you. It might just make things worse for your health. Here is an insight on how melatonin overdose can harmfully affect your body:
- Melatonin overdose will end up having the opposite effect on your body by disturbing your regular circadian rhythm along with your normal sleep pattern, thereby making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. And this additionally paves the way for dizziness, daytime sleepiness, etc.
- Too much consumption and too high a dosage can also trigger sudden and sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, or even trouble to breathe completely.
- An abrupt and unwanted rise in blood pressure is also likely to take place. And extremely high blood pressure can be pretty dangerous for your body.
- Yet another highly perilous consequence of a melatonin overdose is that once you start taking these supplements too frequently and/or at a high dosage, especially without any recommendation, then you are going to end up getting too dependent on it and it won’t be long before your body gets addicted to it. And any kind of addiction always tends to result in the worst-case scenario.
The best way to prevent a melatonin overdose is to steer clear of high doses of those supplements and not getting hooked onto them. But in case you already have, then the next best solution is to stop taking the supplements. Although that might or might not ease your symptoms, it will help in the long run. But for the time being, if your symptoms are not that severe, then cutting down the intake is most likely to help you out in such a situation.
However, if your symptoms are serious, for instance, if you are experiencing intense and frequent chest pains or noticing a risky rise in your blood pressure, or if you are going through any unwanted symptoms, then it would be best to see a trusted doctor as soon as possible. So, to avoid such situations of a melatonin overdose, simply consult a doctor before you start to take melatonin supplements or any such drug for that matter.
And don’t forget to stay healthy!
Also read- Insomnia