Dr. Charlotte Morgan, D.Ac.
Is Melatonin Harmful?
Updated: Jun 12, 2022
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is primarily released by the pineal gland at night. The production and release of melatonin in the brain is connected to the time of day- increasing when it is dark and decreasing when it is light. When it is dark, melatonin production increases, and signals our bodies that is time to sleep.
Melatonin has become popular as a sleep aid over the last few years, but in all honesty, there is very little research that it even works. Yes, it signals your body that it is time to go to sleep, but there is little evidence that it improves your quality of sleep over time, or helps in reaching deep sleep stages. In fact, outside of the U.S. and Canada, melatonin typically requires a prescription and is only given for short-term use.
The small amount of evidence that is available regarding melatonin and sleep quality states that it is best taken in low doses (0.5-1mg) instead of the typical 3-5 mg that people generally consume.
Melatonin at high doses is linked to:
Melatonin is a hormone we create naturally, but an excess of it can affect your other hormones and suppress your body’s own ability to make melatonin.
❌ There is evidence linking high doses of melatonin to throwing off healthy levels hormones like estrogen and testosterone. ❌
✈️ Jet Lag & Melatonin ✈️
Melatonin is a great option for temporarily getting your circadian rhythm back on track from traveling, or an acute stress that has thrown off your schedule. In one study, 9/10 trials found that melatonin, taken close to the target bedtime at the destination (10pm-midnight), decreased jet-lag from flights crossing five or more time zones. The benefit is greater the more time zones crossed, and less for westward flights.
There are plenty of wonderful options to help with insomnia and sleep issues. I typically use a combination of acupuncture and herbs/supplements that are catered toward your unique sleep disturbances.
Check out my Fullscript Online Dispensary and navigate to the Sleep Support category. You’ll find all of my favorite sleep supplements for purchase.
Charlotte Morgan, M.S. L.Ac.