Can You Get Addicted To Melatonin?

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, someone may have recommended you try taking melatonin. But, like any supplement, it comes with concerns about safety. For example, is it addictive? And how much is safe to take at a time?

Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces and releases from the pineal gland, according to Healthline. Production ramps up when it grows dark at night, and brings on the sleepy feeling that makes you ready for bed. When the sun rises and light hits your eyes, melatonin production is suppressed for the day.

Some people have difficulty falling asleep due to a disruption in their regular sleep patterns, however. This could be due to factors like travel and jet lag, working a shift that doesn't allow a full night's sleep, insomnia, or sleep phase disorders (via Medicine Net). For these people, a melatonin supplement might be a good thing to try.

Melatonin can have some side effects

Melatonin is not considered addicting in the sense that it doesn't not cause withdrawal symptoms when it is stopped. People can also build up tolerance to its use over time (via Healthline). But experts still warn against it's long-term use as it simply has not been studied enough.

There are also some people who shouldn't take melatonin or should use caution when using it, according to WebMD. Taking too much has been known to cause bad dreams and a groggy feeling the next day. It has also been reported to inhibit the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications and may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. People with seizure disorders may be more prone to having them while taking melatonin, so they should speak with their doctor before trying it.

Some other side effects that have been reported include headache, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Less commonly, people experience short-term depression, anxiety, tremors, cramps, irritability, disorientation, and low blood pressure. Start with the lowest dosage possible, usually one milligram, and see if that works before increasing. 

While melatonin is relatively safe, with any ongoing sleep disturbance it's important to get to the root of the problem. So, if you find yourself reaching for melatonin consistently, speak with your doctor to rule out underlying causes.