If you’ve been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you may have heard the hype about melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. As the sun goes down, the body switches off serotonin production and produces more melatonin to help the body become calm and relaxed, so you’re ready for sleep.
So, taking a little extra melatonin close to bedtime should help you get better sleep, right? The reality is a little more complicated. Melatonin can be helpful for those who are having trouble getting to sleep at night, but taking too much or using it incorrectly can cause additional problems like daytime drowsiness, headaches, and nausea. Additionally, overdoing it on melatonin supplements can make you less sensitive to its desired effects.
Mislabeled melatonin supplements
A big problem for people who rely on melatonin supplements is that a recent study found that many of these supplements are mislabeled. Most had much more melatonin in each dose than advertised—some even had more than the maximum recommended dose of 10 mg per day. While the study only looked at melatonin gummies and not other supplements like chewable tablets, it does show that a lack of FDA regulation on these supplements may leave you uncertain of what you’re actually taking.
Melatonin alternatives for better sleep
Taking melatonin isn’t a magic bullet for getting to sleep. It can trigger sleepiness, but it’s not a sedative. So, if you’re not practicing good sleep hygiene with a solid bedtime routine, you may not see much of an effect from adding supplements to your routine. Before you reach for the melatonin, try the following steps for improving your nightly sleep:
Reduce the use of caffeine and don’t have any caffeine after 2 p.m.
Avoid the use of screens within an hour of bedtime.
Eliminate all sources of light in your bedroom.
Keep your sheets clean and maintain a cool climate in your bedroom.
Don’t consume alcohol before bedtime.
If you are still struggling to sleep, consult a physician before you begin taking any supplements or medications. Walmart Health Virtual Care can help you address insomnia through convenient, web-based visits with a licensed medical provider or therapist.