How Melatonin Supplements Really Affect Your Brain

Melatonin supplements are a popular remedy for people looking to fall asleep more quickly. But have you ever wondered why this pill makes you tired? Here's what you should know about melatonin.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, melatonin is a natural hormone that your brain produces when it gets dark. It helps to keep your circadian rhythms, which refers to your body's 24-hour internal clock, on track by telling you to get sleepy as the sun goes down and wake up when the sun rises. Some research indicates that melatonin may play a part in other aspects of our health, but these studies are not conclusive.

Because melatonin is naturally produced in the brain, melatonin supplements are generally safe to use for short periods of time (via Mayo Clinic). It is often turned to as a solution for mild insomnia and jet lag. Although it is only recommended for short-term use, it is unlikely for you to develop a dependency on melatonin.

Melatonin supplements work the same way as the natural hormone

Unlike other sleep aids, you should know what to expect when you take a melatonin supplement and experience few side effects. And instead of relying on darkness to get sleepy, you can send a signal to your brain that it's time to go to bed by taking this supplement. This makes it especially useful for people who need to sleep at an irregular time, like night shift workers and those who recently traveled to a new time zone.

According to WebMD, you don't need to take large quantities of melatonin to experience its effects. It is recommended that you start with a very small dose and work your way up as necessary. Melatonin isn't a sedative and won't knock you out, so you should use good bedtime habits to get the best benefits. This includes putting your phone away, turning off bright lights, and limiting noise when possible.

Some side effects of melatonin include nausea, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and irritability. These are most commonly experienced by people who take large doses of the supplement. You should also avoid melatonin if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor to make sure it's safe for you before trying.