Why is taking melatonin bad for you?

Are you tired of sleepless nights that leave you feeling groggy and irritable in the morning? Do you find yourself reaching for the melatonin bottle every night to help you drift off into dreamland? Well, slow your roll there, sleepyhead – melatonin may not be the harmless sleep aid it’s cracked up to be.

What is Melatonin?

Before we dive into why taking melatonin might not be such a great idea, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what this stuff actually is. According to our good friends over at WebMD (who never steer us wrong), melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It’s produced by a gland in your brain called the pineal gland and released into your bloodstream when it gets dark outside.

So far so good, right? Nothing too scary about hormones or glands. But hold onto your pajama pants, because things are about to get weird.

The Dark Side of Melatonin

While melatonin may seem like just another innocent hormone floating around in our bodies doing its thing, some experts say there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here are just a few reasons why popping those little pills might not be so smart after all:

1. Lowered Fertility Rates

According to one study, males who took high doses of melatonin experienced decreased sperm count and motility compared with men whose bodies produced their own natural levels of the hormone.

2. Increased Risk of Seizures

Melatonin has been linked with an increased risk of seizures, especially when taken without proper medical supervision or in conjunction with other medications known to increase seizure risk.

3. Confusing Your Body Clock

By taking exogenous (i.e., introduced from outside) melatonin,you could potentially trick your body into thinking it’s time to sleep when it’s not, which can wreak havoc on your natural circadian rhythm.

4. Unintended Interactions with Other Medications

As with any over-the-counter supplement,there’s always the chance that melatonin could interact poorly (perhaps dangerously) with other medications you may be taking, from blood thinners to birth control pills.

If Not Melatonin, Then What?

So if melatonin is off the table (or should we say nightstand), what else is there? Here are a few safer and arguably more effective options for catching some quality zzz’s:

  • Exercise: Getting your sweat on during the day can help regulate your body clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
  • Limiting Screen Time: The blue light emitted by our beloved smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs can hinder our body’s production of melatonin, so try switching things off an hour or two before bed.
  • Creating a Bedtime Routine: Creating calming rituals at bedtime – such as drinking herbal tea or reading a book – can signal to your brain that it’s time to slow down and prepare for sleep.

There you have it: plenty of reasons why taking melatonin might not be in your best interest after all. Just remember…a good night’s sleep isn’t worth risking fertility issues or seizures!

Thankfully, there are plenty of safer alternatives out there waiting for you when those insomnia blues hit. Sweet dreams!

Dunshee-Yarrington R. A review of therapeutic uses of melatonin. Pharmacy Times website.
WebMD website.

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