The pineal gland produces melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps improve sleep quality and duration, but more potent sleep remedies are available. Melatonin is not considered to be addictive. However, overuse of melatonin can cause a person’s body to produce less melatonin, possibly resulting in a physical reliance on this supplement.
To determine if a substance is addictive, medical professionals examine several hallmarks. These include withdrawal symptoms, dependence, tolerance, or “hangovers.” Since it does not appear to produce any of these effects, it is unlikely to be addicting.
In the U.S., a prescription is not required to purchase melatonin. However, it is a prescription-only drug in most of Europe and Australia. Only older adults with sleep disorders can receive a prescription for it in these regions.
Most individuals take melatonin to stabilize the brain and body’s circadian rhythm. Those who are blind, shift workers, persons with jet lag, and children on the autism spectrum can benefit from using these supplements.
Melatonin Side Effects
Because melatonin is a sleep aid, one of its primary side effects is drowsiness. When this supplement is taken correctly, it is unlikely that individuals will experience significant side effects, but there is still a chance that they will occur. Aside from sleepiness, an individual taking this supplement can experience headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
There is also a chance of experiencing mild tremors, abdominal cramps, and low blood pressure. People have also reported feeling irritable as well as temporary feelings of depression.
If you experience side effects from taking melatonin, you should speak with a health provider. He or she might recommend taking a different dosage or an alternative sleep aid. It is also possible that other substances you are taking are causing an adverse interaction, so make sure you tell your doctor of other supplements or medications being used.
Although it is considered safe for short-term use, there are few long-term studies into melatonin’s potential side effects. Since it is an over-the-counter drug in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations are different from prescription drugs and typically less strict.
Can You Overdose on Melatonin?
Although the body naturally creates melatonin, using too much of it could disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. It may also produce other unwanted side effects, as previously noted. Technically, it is certainly possible to overdose on melatonin when considering that this condition is characterized by having unwanted and potentially harmful side effects on the body. However, it is unlikely to be lethal.
It is not generally advisable that young children use melatonin unless as directed by a doctor. Even doses as small as 1-5 mg could lead to seizures or other health complications. Other sleep aids are safer for children who are having sleep disturbances.
For adults, the standard dose ranges from 1-10 mg. However, there isn’t a dosage that the FDA or medical professionals recommend as the average or the “best.” Furthermore, they consider doses in the 30-mg range as harmful. It is usually best to begin with a low dose and move up carefully if you see success. Also, speak to a licensed medical provider before you attempt to increase your dose.
Melatonin and Alcohol
Because melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, many people are comfortable using it over prolonged periods. Unlike sleeping pills, which contain synthetic compounds, they are “natural,” so they are “safe.” However, like anything used for medical reasons, it is essential to understand how to use it safely.
For example, if you consume alcohol regularly, it could weaken or strengthen melatonin’s potency. In addition, alcohol and melatonin, when taken simultaneously, cause various side effects. Some of these include facial redness, increased irritability, and swelling in the hands or feet.
When people combine these substances, they could also experience confusion, brain fog, and poor sleep quality. Beyond these disorienting symptoms, some are more severe. When taken in conjunction, alcohol and melatonin can cause increased heart rates, fatigue, drowsiness, breathing difficulties, and sudden unconsciousness.
Being susceptible to fainting can put a person in extreme danger, especially if driving, operating heavy machinery, or being in other potentially hazardous situations.
Getting Help for Drug Abuse
If you are using melatonin regularly in excess amounts or are doing so in addition to other substances such as alcohol, you may benefit from a rehab program. In addition, if you have a sleeping disorder, this too can be addressed in conjunction with other co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer individualized, comprehensive treatment programs intended to address all aspects of each individual’s health and wellness. Evidence-based therapeutic methodologies and activities include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, relapse prevention, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, and more.