Why Do You Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night After Taking Melatonin?

If you want to optimize your health and well-being, then it is no secret that getting enough sleep is part of the equation. Most adults ages 18 to 60 are recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults do not get enough sleep (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

You might think that not getting enough sleep is not a big deal. Our culture of working hard is often led by icons and influencers who say that people who sleep are never going to be successful. But you shouldn't listen to them. If you sleep for less than the recommended seven hours per night, then you increase your risk of developing a slew of chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental health issues, obesity, and stroke. 

In order to get more sleep, many people turn to supplements like melatonin. Here's everything you need to know about this sleep aid.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain when it gets dark that plays a role in the maintenance of circadian rhythms and sleep. Melatonin is also available as a supplement that many people take to help them fall asleep. Some common side effects of melatonin use include dizziness, headache, feeling sleepy, and nausea. Melatonin is safe to use for short-term sleep issues, but there is limited evidence for its safety regarding long-term use, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, melatonin does not actually put you to sleep, but it does help quiet you down and prepare you for sleep. Experts recommend that you take a small dose — try starting with 1 to 3 milligrams to start — about two hours before you want to fall asleep. 

When it works correctly, melatonin can help you get a restful night of sleep. But some people wake up in the middle of the night after taking melatonin. Here's why.  

This one habit can nullify the effects of melatonin

Many people have a habit of bringing their smartphone, tablet, or computer into the bedroom at night. You might check emails, send messages to friends, get updates on social media, or watch a movie. Unfortunately, while this time may make you feel good, it can actually interfere with the melatonin supplement and lead to you waking up in the middle of the night.

Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that the blue and green light from these devices can actually reduce the efficacy of melatonin. Since your brain associates the light with the daytime, viewing an electronic device before bed can prevent melatonin from doing its job. That's why you should wind down a few hours before bed (perhaps around the time that you take the melatonin) by lowering the lights in your home and staying off your phone. You can also try a blue light filter, which may help.