Melatonin Isn’t Working Anymore
The use of melatonin has made waves within the past few decades. But what if I told you about the alternatives to melatonin? This drug has little to no regulations placed on its manufacturing, so what does it do to our system? Find out below.
These five alternatives listed below are much safer options to use for sleep than melatonin. As always, if you think you may have a sleep disorder that requires more than this, please see a doctor. Let’s dive into some alternatives to melatonin!
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My personal favorite supplement I recommend is Valerian Root. It’s an herb that calms the activity in your brain without having a hangover effect later. I love to take it on anxious nights or when I know I’ll need a good night’s rest.
Another amazing supplement you can take about half an hour before bedtime to help ease your brain into slumber. Magnesium helps to regulate the melatonin in your brain instead of adding copious amounts of it that your body doesn’t need.
I took magnesium for years when my anxiety was at its worst. I don’t take it now simply because I don’t need it. But it was a huge deal breaker in terms of having a good night’s sleep when I did need it. It’s one of the best alternatives to melatonin because it’s readily available in grocery and health food stores.
GABA Calm Supplements
This was one of my favorite supplements to take when I was having a particularly anxious day. GABA stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, and it works by blocking certain transmitters in your brain. In other words, it can turn off your hyperactive thoughts with the flip of a switch.
GABA is typically taken in the form of lozenges, and works very quickly. I remember one night during finals week in college when both me and my roommate were particularly anxious. We both took a lozenge, and half an hour later felt so much better!
I had to put this as one of the best alternatives to melatonin because it’s great for people that have issues staying asleep. Glycine is an amino acid found in the body that helps primarily with muscle development. But it’s been proven to help induce sleep, and keep people asleep.
If you’re someone who can’t get to sleep easily, or wakes up during the night (guilty!), this is a great option. I know my anxiety is acting up when I can’t turn off my brain properly and have a good night’s sleep. Glycine is that extra kick to find that off switch in your mind.
This is lesser-known than other alternatives to melatonin that your body needs to create serotonin. This creates a domino effect to help you get to sleep. You need L-Tryptophan to create serotonin, and serotonin helps create melatonin. That’s why I recommend L-Tryptophan over melatonin. It helps your body make its own instead of adding the wrong dosage into your body.
Melatonin is a hormone that can have dire consequences to your body if there isn’t the right amount of it. With that said, let’s dive into why melatonin is such a finicky supplement to deal with. And why you should steer well clear of it.
What is Melatonin, Exactly?
In the strictest sense, melatonin is a hormone produced in your brain. It’s produced in the pineal gland, and helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. In other words, it’s your brain’s “time to go to bed” hormone. It’s not a hormone that you should mess with, unless you want to develop insomnia.
Exposure to daylight makes melatonin levels recede, making you feel awake. When the sun goes down and things get darker, your melatonin levels rise. This is why it’s so bad to have electronics on before bed!
The melatonin that I’m discussing today is synthetically produced in a laboratory. You can get it without a prescription in whatever form you like. They have fizzy drinks, gummies, pills, you name it!
With melatonin having a reputation as an all-natural sleep aid, you’re probably surprised I’m making this post in the first place. But not everything in the natural community is safe.
That’s something I really try to educate my readers on. You shouldn’t make a change without doing your research! There are so many lies and con artists in the natural living community, and this is one of them. That’s why I gave you some alternatives to melatonin above.
How Did Melatonin Get Its Start?
Melatonin was originally used by doctors to help blind people establish a regular sleep cycle, among many other things. When studies found that it could act as a natural sleep aid in the 1980’s, it slowly slid into the market. Now melatonin is considered a great alternative to prescribed sleep medication, but at a price. Harmful side effects have been recorded, but it seems like there won’t be any action taken.
The synthetic supplement hasn’t been tested long enough to know any for-sure side effects, but some are starting to surface, and they’re not great. It seems like melatonin will only hinder your sleep after a certain amount of time. So I highly recommend alternatives to melatonin instead.
Here Are the Dangers of Melatonin
I actually never got onto the melatonin bandwagon. My mom introduced it to me years ago when she was having a hard time falling asleep one night. She would take barely a fraction of the little white pills every once in a while when she was having a particularly anxious night.
When I asked her why, she said that the regular amounts of melatonin sold as supplements aren’t good for you. That was the first of the dangers of melatonin I learned about, so I never bothered with it since then. I’ve been lucky enough to not have very many issues getting to sleep at night.
So when I wrote my post on Natural Ways to Fall Asleep Fast, the memory I had of melatonin came back to me. I wondered if people would ask why I didn’t put it on the list, so I thought I should explain it more here. After some digging, I found some pretty interesting facts on this supplement.
As I started to conduct my research on melatonin, it turns out that my mom was actually spot-on with her caution. The reasons below are just a few of the main points that I found consistently through my research.
Melatonin Supplements Give too of a High Dose
Since melatonin is considered a dietary supplement, it receives absolutely no regulation from the FDA. This means that distributors of melatonin can put whatever they well please into their products. In fact, it wasn’t until a particular study came out in 2001 that scientists figured out how much melatonin is actually safe for you.
What you get in a typical dose of melatonin bought from the vitamin store is over 10 times the amount you should take! And since this is a hormone, this can easily throw off other hormones in your body. This will create much worse problems than the inability to sleep!
You need your hormones to stay in balance for you to function properly. This goes especially for children and teenagers. So if you have a child that cannot go to sleep, melatonin is not the answer! I’ll get into why that is in a minute.
Melatonin Makes Sleep Problems Much Worse
While melatonin may be able to knock you out the first few nights, your bad sleep patterns might suddenly return. And to top it off, you’ll feel cranky and groggy for most of the day. Now your sleeping problems feel worse than before you took melatonin. What happened?
This all-too-common occurrence with melatonin is your body’s reaction to too much of the hormone. When your brain floods with melatonin, it takes a longer time than normal to get rid of it all. This creates a nasty “hangover effect” that leaves you feeling gross and groggy the next day. It’s very similar to the warnings on prescription drugs that say “don’t operate heavy machinery until you know how it affects you.”
What’s worse, your receptors of melatonin in your brain will completely shut off. Your brain will go into defense mode to protect itself from the large amounts of melatonin. It’s your body’s way of coping with the overwhelming desire to slip into a coma. This leads to your body having lower levels of melatonin than normal, thus making sleep even more elusive.
Unsafe for Child Development
Now imagine that happening to the developing brain of a child. One of the dangers of melatonin that genuinely scares me is its recommendation for children’s sleep. It sounds innocent enough; sleep may be hard for a child for a number of reasons. But melatonin is not the answer.
With the irregular amount of hormones in the brain from a few doses of melatonin, the supplement can seriously hurt a child’s development during adolescence. In other words, it can cause more sleep problems when the child is older. WebMD even cautions parents to stay away:
“Melatonin is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a single dose. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth or injected into the body in multiple doses in the short-term. Because of its effects on other hormones, melatonin might interfere with development during adolescence (source).”
The use of the words “might” and “possibly” can be taken as either good or bad. Maybe those words are there in case of a chance situation that it doesn’t work out. But we simply don’t know much at all about the supplement because of the lack of studies in recent years.
One of the most frustrating parts of natural living is that there isn’t very much credible research done on things that people swear by. Most natural living hacks are still considered “old wives tales,” and people don’t take it seriously. While I do believe that a good chunk of it is completely useless, there’s some great stuff too.
It’s going to take a while for society to sort through all the useless advice and the good advice, but natural living has been making big waves lately. I know that science will eventually get around to properly testing that natural living has to offer.
Final Thoughts on Alternatives to Melatonin
What I think all of this boils down to, is the large amount of melatonin in commercial supplements. If there were proper rules and regulations on the supplement, then there wouldn’t be a problem. However, if you decide to try my mom’s technique of trying an extremely small amount on rough nights, you should be okay.
But please, do not take a commercial dose of melatonin! While this could be an amazing natural sleep aid, we’re just in the beginning stages of not knowing enough to really reap the benefits. Nor do we seem to care, either.
I also recommend that you develop a night routine that will help alert your brain that it’s time to sleep. I’ve been using a night routine for a couple of months now when I was having a rough patch of insomnia, and I’m doing much better now! I’ve got a post all about the best nighttime routine for mental health.
So do your research on anything that can have a profound effect on your body, you might save yourself more trouble than what it’s worth! And please be careful with what you decide to put in your body, you want to treat it well. That involves not trusting any of the latest trend that may or may not work.
Have you ever tried melatonin before and felt its effect? Let me know in the comments below!
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Long-Term Side Effects of Melatonin