Melatonin Isn’t a Sleeping Pill: 3 Reasons to Avoid Melatonin

Why melatonin is bad for you + better alternatives

“Melatonin is not a sleeping pill”

That’s what Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” tells patents who inquire about this popular supplement. Like me and many other practitioners who have researched this supplement, Dr. Breus believes melatonin is a bad answer to insomnia.

Dr. Breus, who was featured on the Dr. Oz show to discuss the problems with melatonin, explains,

This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin: Melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator – NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep. (Read more)

Why melatonin is bad for you?

“If it’s all natural, why is melatonin bad for you?” my mom asked, when I expressed my concern with this supplement after learning that she takes it on-and-off for her insomnia. “Boy, have I got a blog post for you!” I replied.

In short, melatonin is a hormone that correlates with sleep cycles and plays beneficial roles in numerous physiological functions. But melatonin supplements are neither a safe, natural nor effective solution to insomnia.

1. Melatonin supplements are hormone therapy

Are you taking melatonin? Then you are using hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is a very complicated topic ripe with detrimental health consequences when used carelessly. Often, hormone therapy is the “easy answer” to hormone imbalance and so the layperson, under the guidance of a practitioner or not, will reach for this answer. One common example of hormone therapy is progesterone cream. Melatonin is another.

The popularity of melatonin greatly worries me because hormone therapy should be approached with due caution, wisdom and knowledge. The practitioners whom I most respect use hormone therapy with the most extreme reservation, always preferring to use diet/lifestyle/supplement changes before using hormone therapy only when necessary as a last resort. Why? More often than not, including the case of melatonin, hormone therapy can do more harm than good. 

This is the analogy I use when explaining the potential consequences of hormone therapy:

Most of the hormones in the body are governed by negative feedback, which works like your household thermostat. Say you set your thermostat to 72 degrees and the room temperature is 69 degrees. The heater kicks in to warm the room up.  When the temperature reaches 72 degrees, the heat shuts off until the temperature drops again.

Administering hormones can actually shut off our body’s hormonal negative feedback loop. It’s like heating a room by a space heater and the furnace shuts off because it isn’t needed.

In this case, the “furnace shutting off” translates to the hypothalamus-pituitary connection becoming dysfunctional. When communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary – the master hormone-regulation center in the body – becomes compromised, it leads to many other hormone imbalances.

2. Melatonin is not a “sleep hormone”

While healthy levels of melatonin are key for optimal health, more melatonin doesn’t necessarily translate to better sleep. Why?

Insomnia is not caused by melatonin deficiency, and melatonin is not a sleep hormone. Actually, melatonin has very little to do with falling asleep. Melatonin is produced in the presence of darkness and it just happens to correlate with sleep cycles.

Emily from Butter Believer has done her research on melatonin and here’s what she found:

In spite of all the hype, very little scientific research has been done on melatonin supplements. And in fact, the limited evidence to support it as a sleep aid has indicated that it may only be useful in remedying jet lag and may help to induce sleep in the elderly—and again, these studies are often biased and paid for by the industry itself. They also were found to have used healthy sleepers as subjects, not people who have insomnia. And the results were very inconsistent.

There simple is no solid scientific evidence to support melatonin’s effectiveness for treating insomnia in young and middle-aged adults. NONE! And there have been several studies which actually concluded that melatonin definitively does not significantly improve total sleep time, nor reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It has therefore been proven completely ineffective in treating insomnia. (Read more)

This makes sense, since melatonin is not a sleep hormone. It is a hormone with a wide range of physiological functions. Like I said, by playing a role in regulating our circadian rhythm, melatonin does tie into sleep patterns. But it does not induce sleep.

“But melatonin makes me sleepy!” many people say. Melatonin does induce a drowsy stupor because it is a stress hormone. This is misinterpreted as sleepiness. Remember, stress hormones are necessary and beneficial in the body in proper amounts (think cortisol), but excess stress hormones stress out the body .

3. More melatonin is not better

Why melatonin is bad for you + better alternativesToo little melatonin is bad for you. And too much melatonin is a bad for you. Popping a melatonin pill (or two) is the easiest way to overload your body with this hormone.

Research is now revealing that our production of melatonin not only governs our circadian rhythms, but plays a role in scavenging free radicals and supporting the immune system. We know that melatonin is crucial to health, but flooding your system with melatonin doesn’t automatically mean less free radicals and a better immune system. It’s all about melatonin balance.

Side effects of melatonin supplementation are relatively common and highly problematic. According to Dr. Breus, melatonin side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Next-day grogginess
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Vivid dreams and nightmares (Source)

Is jet leg an exception?

While I do not recommend ever taking melatonin to induce sleep, I think using a melatonin supplement for jet lag is a grey area. Jet lag is an extremely stressful situation from a physiological perspective, and should be minimized or avoided whenever possible. Taking a melatonin supplement the first night of your arrival in a new time zone might help your body shift its circadian rhythms. However, I would never personally take melatonin for jet lag due to the problematic aspects discussed here.

There are better ways to solve insomnia!

Many people try melatonin because they feel desperate for  a good nights sleep. Skip the melatonin and try these truly natural and effective solutions for insomnia:

  • Keep a strict sleep routine . Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it, even on weekends. The time period between 10pm and 12pm is a key period for the body’s repair processes according to many naturopaths and Chinese medicine practitioners, so aim to be in bed before 10.
  • Get exposure to sunlight – natural or artificial – immediately upon waking. In the morning as soon as you get out of bed, open your drapes and soak in the sunlight for a few moments. This immediately drops your melatonin levels, which will balance your circadian rhythm. If you don’t have access to bright natural  light in the morning, something to consider is using a Happy Light, such as this one, for a minute or two.
  • Minimize blue light exposure after sunset. Blue light is emitted from screens (your phone, tablet, laptop, TV, etc.) and tricks your body into thinking that it is daytime. The body interprets blue light as daylight, and constant exposure after sunset is physiologically stressful. Install F.lux, a free program that eliminates the blue light from your phone/computer after sunset. Also, use orange-tinted glasses (these ones) to filter out blue light if you watch TV before bed.
  • Balance your blood sugar. Balanced blood sugar is absolutely vital to falling asleep and staying asleep. It’s too complex to discuss in a few sentences, so please read my post 10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally.
  • Invest in a better mattress. You will spend 1/3 of your life on your mattress, so a proper mattress is an extremely important investment in your whole health. Conventional mattresses are drenched in chemical flame retardants that are linked to serious health issues. Further, a mattress that properly supports your back alignment and re-distributes your weight can drastically improve sleep quality. I found IntelliBED, a unique mattress company whose products improve sleep quality and are also free of toxic flame retardants. After my research, I switched to IntelliBED and highly recommend it. You can learn more about toxic mattresses and IntelliBED in my post here.
  • Use a standing desk. Do you sit at a desk for much of the day? You probably haven’t heard this tip before, but transitioning to a standing desk can drastically improve your insomnia. This has been my experience, so I began recommending it to my friends and family members with insomnia and they reported fantastic results. You can purchase a standing desk or make your own very affordable version, just google, “DIY Standing Desk.”

Have you used melatonin supplements? (Don’t forget to share this post using the buttons below with your friends and family members who use this supplement!)

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Comments

  1. Carolyn says

    You mention melatonin being used for jet lag…what about those (such as nurses) who have night jobs and use melatonin to help them switch back and forth from sleeping at night to sleeping in the day, etc? I have several nurse friends and quite a few say melatonin is one of the only ways they can get to sleep during the day.

    • says

      That’s a great question and I think that is another grey area where melatonin might remedy some of the physiological stress of night shifts. Like jet lag, night shifts are very stressful on the body. One thing that some nurses and frequent travelers do is wear their orange-tinted glasses at night, to help keep melatonin in balance. It may sound weird, but it does help.

    • peter says

      I use melatonin for 5 days ever 2 to 3 weeks. It’s the only way to get me sleeping thru the night on the shifts where I have to wake up at 3 am. I’m sleepy by 7 and sleeping by 730pm. If I don’t take it I will awake by 10 pm and won’t be able to fall back to sleep. It is he’ll working the 430 amam shift followed by the 830 pm shift then 1230pm.

      Do you think using melatonin on that 3am shift will be benificial

    • says

      The research I’ve done on pharmaceutical sleeping pills has led me to believe that much of it is biased because is is industry-funded and even though that is the case, the research shows sleeping pills are vastly ineffective. It’s often the placebo effect. I don’t think sleeping pills or melatonin is a good answer. My philosophy about insomnia is that it’s not about taking a pills, it’s about addressing the underlying lifestyle and stress factors.

      • Ashley says

        I haven’t done the research but I have heard that when using sleeping pills you don’t fall into that deep restorative sleep.

  2. Ashley says

    I’ve had insomnia for the past 6 months due to extreme stress. I tried melatonin, Valerian root and a few other “natural” products, all to no avail. My ND recently recommended a cortisol blocker. I’ve been taking it about an hour before bed for the past week. I had a hard time falling/staying asleep for the first few nights but now it seems to be working REALLY well. Any thoughts on cortisol blockers?

    • says

      I’m writing a post about using essential oils for sleep and I think it will really help you! I’ll have it ready in the next couple of weeks. The oils I recommend will help balance your hormones (including cortisol) to improve sleep. Personally, I believe this is a much better option than cortisol blockers.

  3. Kristina says

    My husband and I recently bought a house and since we’ve moved in I have slept terribly. I have never had problems falling asleep or staying asleep before. The only big factors that I can think of that May contributing to my insomnia are out new house has no ac and it is a fixer upper so maybe increased stress levels?
    We already follow a pretty natural lifestyle and I have wool mattress. If you have any advice I would appreciate it :)

    • says

      This might sound a bit weird but it could be that your bed is on a spot where earth radiation paths cross. I can’t explain it into detail but from what I understand is that there are radiation lines all across our globe, a bit like magnetic fields, and when they cross the energy on such a spot can cause problems like insomnia, restlesness etc. We once had a lady over at our house that could spot these points with a divining rod. We then either had to move some furniture or place metal figures on these spots to guide the radiation towards other directions. We had asked her help because our daughter of then 18 months would wake up up to 20 times a night, screaming her lungs out. We moved her bed, but unfortunately it didn’t help. In the end the poor kid had a stomach ulcer which caused her insomnia. But the explanation about the radiation crossing points made sense. A good example of this is when people have a favorite spot in the house to sit, the energy is just right there. Oh, and she also explained that while these crossing points might cause people to feel uneasy, cats love to lie down on these spots ;-) I hope I didn’t sound like a complete lunatic and you will find out what causes your sleeping problems!

  4. says

    I used to take melatonin a lot- as recommended by my pediatrician when I was a teenager and struggled with insomnia. My boyfriend now is British, and dating him I have realized how normal it is for Americans to just pop a pill for… everything… and how that isn’t the case in the rest of the world. He avoids medications at almost all costs. He has to be in serious pain to take ibuprofen. And I am the one who struggles to respond to medication when I really need it. I think being overmedicated my whole life has led to drug resistances. Why are pills the first things doctors recommend when there is a problem in the states? The whole system needs a thorough overhaul. Great information! I’m throwing away my melatonin :)

    • Rachel B says

      It is encouraging that you can “correct” your system to a bit, though. After going off these for a few months, they became much more effective again. I try not to take medication very much, but I do have some really bad migraines and periods that I haven’t yet been able to fully improve with lifestyle changes, and when I literally cannot go to work because of pain… that’s a problem, and a couple of pills in that case are my compromise.

  5. Mina says

    would you please guide me to pick up some oils?there are just so many oils out there named as beauty oils and essential oils and its so confusing which one to choose from,so I just wanted to know If I wanted to stick to a mix of oils and go with it ,what would be the most powerful and nutrient dense to use please?

    • Michele says

      I would look into lavender or vitiver essential oil. And also balance and serenity essential blends. Pure oil brands are dōTERRA, Young Living and Spark Naturals, they have oils safe for ingestion. Spark Naturals is probably the most affordable and you can use a code and get a discount. The code is SUNFLOWERS

      • Maria says

        How do you use these oils? I know that a few drops of lavender added to the tub is a great relaxer but do you ingest these oils (i.e. lavender and vetiver?)

        • Lissa says

          In the case of Lavender and most oils, you can dilute it with a bit of pure oil like coconut oil and rub it into the bottom of your feet. With oils, you do have to experiment a bit. I find for myself that lavender doesn’t help while my friend passes out with it.

  6. Karen McGinnis says

    Great article!
    I have suffered from insomnia off and on my whole life. I tried melatonin too because it’s so accessible and apparently effective. I bought it in liquid form so I could control my doses. I used to take 2 drops as a last resort. While I feel it did help me sleep, if I woke in the middle of the night I felt drugged. My eyes could only open part way and ,my mind was fogged. 90% of the time I would have a headache the next day and it did give me crazy dreams! sometimes nightmares.
    So now, if I can’t sleep, I use the Bach Flower Remedy for sleep. After a few squirts of that on my tongue I’m guaranteed to be sleepy in 20 mins, it also shuts down my monkey mind.
    I also take magnesium after dinner and a zinc tablet right before bed. This all helps.
    And, (yes I have researched this a lot too) I have been making and taking an adrenal cocktail. Google it if you want more info. Quite often the reason we wake 4-5am and can’t get back to sleep is our cortisol levels from our over stressed adrenals. This cocktail has helped me tremendously.

  7. Dawn says

    I wanted to share your article, however, there is a spelling error in the first sentence. If you will correct, I will share with a bioidentical doctor who I see and who has recommended that I take melatonin on a number of occasions, which I also think is wrong…..not that I believe everything that Dr. Oz says….
    Thank you!

  8. Mary says

    I have been taking it for years and will continue to do so. It is the only thing that helps me sleep and I wake up feeling great. To me, this sounds like a bunch of BS!

    • D'yani says

      Lauren does a huge amount of research about things, and you can see the evidence of all the research from the rest of her site’s content. I doubt she’s just half-assing this article now. And it all makes sense to me. I also rely on melatonin every night, but now seeing it in this light makes me understand I may want to stop. I will lean on magnesium and maybe seek out some flower remedies for sleeping, instead.

    • Stacy says

      @Mary agreed! Melatonin changed my life! For years I used to stare at the ceiling unable to fall asleep for 60-90 minutes every night, even though I was tired. With melatonin I fall asleep easily every time. Whenever I skip it for some reason (even if I just forget) I remember soon enough when an hour has passed and I am still awake. You will never convince me this is a placebo effect!

  9. Jet says

    What would you suggest for us Alaskans who have non-stop sunlight for half of the year? I figure my melatonin level is probably very low during the summer. Would that be a good ‘excuse’ to use melatonin supplements?

  10. Berta Anderson says

    I stared taking melatonin about a month ago,I recently when off ice cool and my hot flashes was a lot better, but now they are coming back, so is that because of the melatonin.

  11. KE says

    Love this topic. My sleep quality is terrible: I wake up at least 3 times a night, and as often as every 90 minutes. I want to try the oils, magnolia, 5htp, anything else that might help. Looking fwd to more posts on this!!

    • says

      I was a diagnosed insomniac at age 14. My mom was killed in front of our eyes when I was 7 and it didn’t get much better from there. Never wanted to sleep. At age 46, after countless pills that were killing people in Hollywood and 5 supplements – I have finally found my HOLY GRAIL!!! So excited I am able to sleep PILL FREE, no more brain fog, and off all my other meds for anxiety, depression, IBS, restless legs…….. still having a hard time believing I don’t need an Rx to feel this good. Only been 3 weeks of medication free life, and it’s wonderful! Good luck~ if you want to come to the “natural side of health”, you can message me.

      • Stephen says

        What did you do, to get drug free. I have chronic pain, and am sick of the pills. I to take 9th of melatonin a night. Appreciate any suggestions.

  12. Denise says

    I tried melatonin a few years ago. I have chronic insomnia and heard that it helped people sleep. Well it didn’t work for me. In fact it made me hyper so that night I got no sleep at all. I threw the bottle away. So I guess I’m the oddball cause I haven’t heard of anyone else who had this problem with it.

    • D'yani says

      That result may indicate other hormone levels may be in such a balance that melatonin doesn’t work properly anymore. Unfortunately, this is a very complicated area to understand! My husband says melatonin makes him have really horrible “waking nightmares” that he has troubles snapping back from, and he feels he doesn’t even actually rest when he takes it. So, a similar confusing reaction. But his brain chemicals are all frighteningly low, and skewed.

  13. Raquel says

    I think this post sways from addressing melatonin as a cure for insomnia, and melatonin use in general – which are two separate issues.

    For those many, many people who suffer from moderate fatigue or difficulty falling asleep (who have not been clinically diagnosed to suffer from insomnia), melatonin supplements can be an excellent resource to help induce the natural hormone that is released as “night time” falls.

    As someone already mentioned, those who live north of the 49th parallel (Canada, Alaska, etc.) don’t have the luxury of having moderate/regular daytime & night time hours, which can affect the body’s natural hormone release function for the “sleepy hormone”. For example, where I live, the sun sets at 4:30pm in December and doesn’t rise until 8:30am!!

    Irregular nigh time hours. combined with moderate caffeine consumption, and smartphones, tablets, TV, etc. giving off artificial light and revving up the brain (rather than the natural calming, sleep inducing affect of the orange light of the sun at dusk), temperatures that are too high or too cold, etc. etc. etc. taking melatonin can be extremely beneficial to help your body produce a hormone that it should be naturally producing – withstanding all our modern day technologies and lifestyle choices., i.e. sometimes the body, in this fast-paced world, needs a little extra help to function as it should, cue: quality supplements.

    To quote a pharmaceutical grade supplement company, created by a large team of both scientists and physicians, “Melatonin is excellent for people who struggle with fatigue and falling asleep at night. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone synthesized in the brain that regulates normal sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin levels naturally start to rise in the evening and remain elevated for most of the night, signalling to our body that it is time to sleep. As melatonin levels rise, we become less alert and feel drowsy. [A good quality melatonin] supplement supports the natural increase of melatonin production at night. They are not sleeping pills. When taken at bedtime, oral [melatonin] supplements support the body’s natural circadian rhythms and have been clinically proven to help promote sleep, which restores the body after daily exposure to free radicals and general wear and tear.”

    • Raquel says

      And, as always, great post, it made me consider things I wouldn’t normally consider! I really enjoyed it, as well as the weekly newsletters I receive in my inbox!! Thanks Lauren Geersten for creating this fantastic website! It’s been on of my main go-to health resource as of late. :-)

    • Carolyn says

      What is being missed by some from the information is that as a hormone which is naturally occurring in the body in accordance to physiological conditions …time of day, light exposure etc… the body should respond and make melatonin, but if we give our body the thing that we are supposed to make we are essentially shutting off our own natural production pathway . We in the US find it easier to do this , treat a symptom, then find the root cause .
      I thought the information very informative, I have a sone who has his nights and days mixed up, now I believe d/t late night exposure to the computer. Thank-you

  14. Suz says

    Dr. Breus is a Ph.D and NOT a Medical Physician!! There are many double blind placebo controlled studies regarding the efficacy of melatonin. Use of melatonin often helps regulate sleep cycle so one stops needing it. As always, sleep hygiene is so important– turning off all electronics one to two hours before bed!!!

  15. Libby says

    I have stopped taking Melatonin after reading an article that pointed out exactly was Lauren mentioned about the hormones.
    As a bad sleeper myself (aged 60) I have also tried many different remedies and what works for me now is, collagen, Montmorency tart cherries and magnesium and the best advice I was given and it works, is no more food after dinner for example 6.30pm. Results – sleeping like a baby.

    • Donna says

      Those things work for me too. Along with the adrenal cocktail ( 1/2 cup OJ, 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, & 1/2 tsp. sea salt.) right before bed.

  16. Haley says

    Everything I read always says to sleep in complete darkness to get a restful sleep, which makes total sense. But I have a bad habit of sleeping with the TV on. I’ll even go to weird extents to sleep with the TV on at friends or family’s house. Is this bad, or how bad is it? How can I get out of this habit? This has been going on a few years now.

    • Donna says

      Haley, maybe it’s noise you need. Have you tried a fan, or a white noise machine? That works for lots of folks.

  17. Robyn says

    I take it every night, I love it! I do all of the lifestyle changes you recommend, and am healthy. I used to be a really light sleeper, and would wake up so easily. I go to bed at 10pm, take my melatonin while I read, and about 15 minutes later I’m so relaxed I fall asleep into a deep restful sleep. The only “side effect” I have is vivid dreams, but quite frankly I like that, I used to have trouble remembering my dreams and now I do. I can’t see a drawback, I wake up refreshed, no problem in the morning. So, I guess why I’m saying all this is that I think some people need it, and it may not be good for everyone, but it’s been good for me. I think some people don’t produce enough melatonin, so supplementing is only bringing them into balance. I know it’s often recommended for autism, many parents swear by it, and many studies have proven it affective. My daughter was completely unaffected by it, but it’s always worked great for me. I’m sure I’ve seen a study about it helping to prevent/fight cancer recently. I’ve also read it’s good for GERD, I suffered with that before, I’m not sure whether it’s coincidence or all the other natural remedies I did to cure it, but I don’t have it anymore either.

  18. Rachel says

    I want to do more research, but meanwhile I’m not swallowing this article hook, line, and sinker. I know way too many people, including my own kids, who have been helped tremendously by melatonin. I have not seen any bad side effects at all with my kids, or anyone else I know that takes it. At this point we plan to continue using it as it has been such a huge blessing and help. Different things work for different people and its just not possible to apply everything to every body in the exact same way.

    • Debbie says

      I give my 8 year old son melatonin because his Dr suggested it, and it works, he had ADHD and cannot shut down at night. If he doesn’t take it he week be up all night wired be has not had any bad effects from it.

  19. R Merritt says

    I have dystonia and as a result sleep little. I’ve tried all of the above plus some.Nothing worked until my neuro recommended Melatonin because it works for his Parkinson’s patients. I don’t want a pill. I was skeptical, but I tried it. It helped. If this is bad, what are my other options?

  20. Elizabeth Agren says

    When I was working at a health food store parents were starting to come in to buy it for their kids, doctors are recommending high dosages, it was really scary. I warned people not to do it, but of course the doctor is always right, and it’s “natural”.

  21. Elizabeth Agren says

    The other option is long term healing, of the nervous system, of stress response, using herbs and lifestyle. Like healing anything in the body naturally it takes time, patience, and a long term commitment to to trying lifestyle changes.

  22. says

    I have a daughter that is six years old an has been blind for going on three years an has a very hard time gettin to sleep her body just keeps going so I have used melatonin an it works but I am also worried it might have sum thing to do with the reason she went blind from a bacterial infection in her brain that caused an abscess on her eye nerves that made her blind but it dose help her get tired so is it ok to use in her situation not being able to see any light it’s always dark what are your thoughts..

  23. says

    really great article Lauren. the only other thing that i would add is that externally supplementing with melatonin actually impacts the body’s internal self regulation and makes it produce less. Much better to trigger the pineal gland to release melatonin naturally. love that you are putting this out there

  24. Vanessa says

    Would the hormone therapy also apply to 5-htp? I have cycles of depression, but don’t want to take the prescription medication. I take the 5-htp as long as I feel depressed

  25. Ashlyn says

    Just wanted to thank you for this article and your links to useful products, especially the Flux app. It was pretty life-changing. Glad I am following this wonderful newsletter.

  26. Katarina Wittich says

    Hi Lauren,
    Usually I love your posts but while I agree with you that the more we can work with insomnia or sleep issues without taking external substances the better, there are many statements in this article that just go against most of what I have ever read about Melatonin.

    For starters I would love to see some references about Melatonin being a stress hormone. I could find none other than the article that you linked to in your article, and that one has no studies or back up attached to it. How is it a stress hormone? What does that mean? Adrenaline and cortisol are hormones created when we are out of balance after long term stress, and they prevent sleep. But oxytocin is a hormone that women make when subjected to stress, but also when happy and cuddly, its the bonding hormone we make when nursing and certainly doesn’t impede sleep.

    My experience with melatonin is that it works sometimes, and sometimes not, but at a time when my hormones were desperately imbalanced from stress it was a lifesaver in terms of sleep, which then diminished my stress. Some forms work better and some are less effective. It seems to me that it is all personal. and each human being has to figure out what works for him or her.

    But the hard science that I have read, like the meta analysis that one reader posted, indicate that melatonin is helpful for many sleep disorders and that it does not diminish in efficacy over time, which would lean in the direction of indicating that the body does not become accustomed to it and therefore stop producing its own in any significant way. So I think it would be very helpful if you could post some links to articles that support scaring people away from melatonin. My osteopath gives it in large doses for cancer as there is increasing evidence that it is one of the most effective antioxidants that exist. I wouldn’t want someone who needs it to steer away without more solid evidence.

    And the person whose article you quoted seems to have an axe to grind of her own as she is selling a book of her theories on sleep. She also states in her notes that Dr. Mercola is not always right about things and has reversed his stance on grains because it was hurting his health not to eat them and that he now advocates eating grains. I have not seen anything like that on his website. He did change his stance on eliminating all carbohydrates, so he now says they are necessary in limited amounts , but he does not mean grains as far as I can tell. So I am suspicious of the science behind this and would like to know more of why you believe melatonin to be damaging, with some concrete proof.

    thanks so much,
    Katarina

  27. says

    Hi Lauren, Thank you for your site in general and all the useful information that you post. I would differ with you a bit on melatonin and hormones in general: there is indeed a place for their use when it is well-supervised and within physiological ranges.

    There might be good reason to put a “caution” tag on over the counter melatonin supplements that people can take habitually without attending to the lifestyle issues that are keeping them awake. But lifestyle attention doesn’t always cut it.

    Melatonin production declines with age, and low melatonin levels are a risk factor for breast cancer and other problems. I recommend low dose (0.3 mg) melatonin, taken with its precursors, for 1-3 months to re-establish a normal sleep cycle, along with all of your other recommendations and a few more!

    I continue that support if regular sleep isn’t established.

    Melatonin is also used in higher doses in naturopathic treatment protocols for cancer survivors and is correlated with prolonged remission, particularly in hormonally sensitive tumors.

    Caution yes, avoidance, no, in my opinion.

  28. Hanna says

    I have used melatonin for a while now. As a nurse I have different shifts and a 2 year old week doesn’t understand this. I don’t use it every night and even I do use melatonin I use very small dose 0.5-1 mg in a large glass of water. It is the only thing that leaves me feeling great the next day and turns my mind off at night. I also made an essential oil rub for my feet at night. I use lavender, clay sage and marjoram mixed with coconut oil. Plant therapy also sells essential oils at an affordable price and had actual aromatherapists to speak too. Therapeutic is a made up term in the essential oil world used by most companies. Please do not ingest oils even though all natural they can still do damage. You need to do your own research not just believe what people tell you. Especially a person who is trying to sell you a product and has no real education on the product they are selling.

  29. Sky says

    A Specialist at Doernbecher in Portland recommended I begin treating my daughter’s sleeping issues with melatonin when she was about 3 1/2 years old. She is now 7 and Still taking it because she NEEDS it! She was recently diagnosed with Severe ADHD and the message we have tried for IT haven’t worked yet. They have caused problems with her sleep so I am not about to take her off of the one thing that has given her (and me) the much needed assistance to fall asleep and STAY asleep Soundly.

    Prior to the use of melatonin she wasn’t able to go to sleep until sometimes 1 in the morning! She would sleep until as late as 1 in the afternoon as her clock never seemed right and she tossed and turned in her sleep to where she constantly fell out of her Toddler bed so I had to move her to Full size so that she had enough room. I would also sleep late as I had been up ALL night with her!

    Melatonin has made a HUGE difference in our life so I will continue it as long as it takes for her body to regulate itself!

    I’d welcome any comments or information that could help otherwise…always.

    Thank you and God Bless!

  30. Kim Weiland says

    My 8 year old has ADHD and a sensory processing disorder. He is on the go 24 hours a day like the energizer bunny. He use to fall asleep the second his head hit the pillow @ 8:15 sharp. We put him on ADHD medications and although they are out of his system by 5 pm he is still super wired and was up talking, playing with toys, and rolling around in bed till at least 9:30. Our neurologist recommended a low dose (1mg) of melatonin and after a lot of research and speaking to his pediatrician we tried it.
    It worked better than I thought. He was asleep by 8:30 and was not groggy in the morning. He did not complain of nightmares either.
    It worked great for us!!!!
    We have a lot of friends also in the same boat too with children on ADHD medications that have been been using Melatonin for years. They all have the same great results and were encouraging me to use it too. I am so glad I did! To each their own. You need to do what works for you.
    Kim

  31. Patrick says

    I have used Melatonin for long time now and love it.

    It is not the quantity but the quality of sleep I derive from it – much more productive, restful and restorative sleep than when I do not take it.

    My wife used to never have problems sleeping but, as we got older, she started having problems too and now she takes Melatonin and loves it too.

  32. Tina Prins says

    I have been taking 3 mg of melatonin nightly for about a year since getting Lyme disease and two confections. sleep is hard to come by. The past four years, I also have had very low progesterone. As of February this year, I stopped progesterone supplementation because I had too many other meds for the Lyme and cos? In May, I had my progesterone checked and now it is really high but my DHEA and cortisol are in line. Could the melatonin have contributed to my progesterone going up?

  33. Kuuipo T. says

    Last year I was recommended to use Melatonin for my daughter and I. My friend had seen her own Natural Path Guide, said it was the best thing to use for help regulating sleep. Did research to find out if it was true, found no true good answers only that it wasn’t researched tho was .. all natural.
    We used small amounts of melatonin on and off for a few months, some times even daily. If I took to much OR to little I would be stuck awake all gittery. My daughter also would have a cranky attitude even after plenty of care, now I believe it was due to the hormonal change I subjected her to by the Melatonin.
    Thank you for writing this blog. It confirms my fear that I’ve had for the last few months.

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