10 Dangers of Melatonin

10 Dangers of Melatonin

Getting enough sleep is challenging for many people. When you are pressured by life worries, shift work, jet lag, dealing with stress or fighting illness, these are some of the many obstacles to a restful, solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

When this is the case, you may have been recommended a melatonin supplement.

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain which helps your body wind down its circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) so it can fall asleep.

Synthetic melatonin is a laboratory created version of melatonin that you can take to assist your natural melatonin response. Although it is usually deemed safe, be sure and consider these 10 dangers of melatonin before using it.

According to Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Arizona,

“Any person in the sleep world will tell you the same thing: melatonin is not harmless, is vastly overused and should not be used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia,”


The problem with unregulated supplementation is that the dosages may not be enough or, in the case of melatonin, too much.

A 2005 meta-analysis of the supplement by researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) reported that in small doses (about 0.3mg) melatonin is appropriate for a restful sleep.

However, it was stated that,

“…commercially available melatonin pills contain 10 times the effective amount. And at that dose, “after a few days it stops working,” said Professor Richard Wurtman, director of MIT’s Clinical Research Center. When the melatonin receptors in the brain are exposed to too much of the hormone, they become unresponsive.”

Unsafe for Children

Some parents use melatonin to get their children to fall asleep. This can be a negative, dual-pronged attempt due to the fact that many children who have trouble sleeping are probably struggling with diet related causes such as excessive sugar, dyes, and other ingredients from a processed food diet.

The use of melatonin in children and its systemic effects are not completely studied.

David Kennaway, the director of the circadian physiology lab at the University of Adelaide in Australia comments,

“extensive evidence from laboratory studies that melatonin causes changes in multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems, as well as reproduction in animals,…providing melatonin supplements to children may result in serious side effects when the children are older.”

Suspect Contents

Consumer Lab Reports recently studied various supplements sold in Big Box, Big Name stores only to find that many didn’t even contain the advertised substance. Melatonin is one of many supplements that do not require regulation by the FDA as long as it is advertised as a ‘dietary supplement’.

Melatonin can be produced in other countries where regulation is never considered. This can include a process that involves extreme heat, toxic solvents, and many fillers or additives that create impurities and even contaminants.

Clete Kushida, a sleep researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine told the Huffington Post that,

“Even for adults, the unregulated nature of the supplement gives cause for reconsideration. Although synthetic melatonin is “chemically identical” to natural melatonin, commercially available supplements “often contain fillers, inert and other ingredients that may cause effects that would not be expected with natural melatonin,”

This can result in toxin accumulation which may cause future, often unrelated, side effects or even diseases that can never be traced back to subpar melatonin supplementation.

Hangover Effect

If you take melatonin, chances are it contains a higher milligram dosage than your naturally occurring production. As a result you could end up experiencing an opposite effect the next day.

Professor Wurtman describes that,

“This can lead to higher plasma melatonin levels the next day, which can cause a “hangover” effect that leaves users groggy.”

More Side Effects

WebMD warns of various side effects of melatonin that are not often described on the container or the packaging.

These side effects include:

  • Bleeding disorders –  Melatonin might make bleeding worse in people with bleeding disorders.
  • Depression – Melatonin can make symptoms of depression worse.
  • Diabetes – Melatonin might increase blood sugar in people with diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully, if you have diabetes and take melatonin.
  • High blood pressure – Melatonin can raise blood pressure in people who are taking certain medications to control blood pressure. Avoid using it.
  • Seizure disorders – Using melatonin might increase the risk of having a seizure.
  • Transplant recipients – Melatonin can increase immune function and might interfere with immunosuppressive therapy used by people receiving transplants.

These 10 dangers of melatonin are just another example of how self-dosing with natural supplements should be taken more seriously. The more people that do not research the many potential effects of alternative remedies, the more chances there will be for injury. When this occurs once too many, the government just may step in and strip you of your ability to rise above conventional medicine to heal yourself naturally.