Melatonin is one of the most popular sleep aids. People take it when they have insomnia, when they’re jet-lagged, or when they’re just stressed out and can’t fall asleep. However, it may offer a bit more than just improved sleep quality. Some new research suggests that it can be effective in reducing anxiety, which more and more people are suffering from each day. In the United States alone, about 40 million people suffer from anxiety. So how are melatonin and anxiety related? Does it help with anxiety? What are the side effects? When should you avoid it? Can you take the supplement during the day for anxiety? You’ll find the answers to all of these questions below.
The Role of Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the pineal gland of our brains and makes us sleepy. Your body begins to produce hormone at night so that you would get tired and fall asleep. The production of melatonin is directly related to the amount of light we’re exposed to. This is why it is recommended to avoid unnecessary exposure to lights and screens before bed. The production also depends on a lot of other factors.
If you have an irregular sleeping schedule, eat an unhealthy diet, are often stressed out and anxious, or look at your phone too much before bed, your melatonin production is probably imbalanced, which is why you may experience trouble falling asleep. Luckily, if your body isn’t producing enough hormone, you can turn to supplements. They beat other sleep aids because they have little to no side effects. Our bodies react much more naturally to supplements than to other sleep aids.
What Does Research on Melatonin For Anxiety Say?
First off, it’s important to note that sleep deprivation is a common cause of anxiety. So naturally, by taking melatonin and creating a more balanced sleeping schedule, your anxiety should be reduced.
However, we all know that many other things may trigger anxiety. Whatever the cause, melatonin can be just as helpful. There have been several studies comparing melatonin with medication used for anxiety. Most studies have been conducted on patients undergoing surgical procedures.
This study by Khare et. al compares melatonin with alprazolam, which is a medication used for anxiety and various other panic disorders. The study was conducted on patients before surgery, who often receive alprazolam to calm them down. It was concluded that melatonin was just as effective as alprazolam in treating anxiety.
Another study by Kherzi and Merate experimented on patients undergoing cataract surgeries, where only topical anesthesia is used. Through observing patients’ heart rate, blood pressure, and verbal remarks, it was concluded that melatonin greatly reduced patients’ anxiety levels.
One study by Ghaeli et. al on patients undergoing a non-surgical coronary procedure also found that melatonin could help reduce anxiety. In fact, melatonin was more effective than oxazepam in reducing anxiety and helping patients sleep better.
In the article by Hansen et. al, 12 different studies on melatonin for anxiety are analyzed. The studies were all conducted on patients undergoing surgery. Most of the studies concluded that melatonin was excellent at reducing anxiety before surgery. However, there wasn’t much evidence to assume that melatonin could help with anxiety post-surgery.
What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin?
People taking melatonin rarely notice any side effects. This is because melatonin is something that our bodies already naturally produce and we’re used to its effects. This is why many people prefer melatonin over other sleep aids.
However, you may experience side effects if you overdose on melatonin. Side effects are usually very minor and even severe overdoses aren’t life-threatening. If you do overdose on melatonin, you may experience drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, lethargy, irritability, and lowered blood pressure. You may also experience increased anxiety. So if you’re planning on taking melatonin for anxiety, be smart about the dosages. Most adults should start at a 1mg-2mg dose of melatonin and work their way up if necessary.
When should you avoid melatonin?
Several health conditions or medications may mean you should hold off on melatonin. If you’re on birth control, you should consult with your doctor before taking melatonin. Sleep aids and medications for high blood pressure may also not react well to melatonin.
There is some research to suggest that pregnant women shouldn’t take melatonin supplements. This animal study by Singh et. al gave pregnant rats consistent doses of melatonin. The rat babies were found to be born at a lower-than-usual weight. However, this isn’t enough to conclude for certain that melatonin is unsuitable for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, you should consult with your doctor on whether melatonin is suitable for you.
You may also be wondering, “can you take melatonin during the day for anxiety?”. Well, melatonin may reduce anxiety but it also makes you sleepy. Melatonin should mainly be used before bed.
So does melatonin help with anxiety? Yes? Should you be cautious when taking it? Of course. Although melatonin can sometimes cause side effects and may not be suitable for everyone, it’s still an excellent way to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety.
How Can You Take Melatonin?
There are various forms of melatonin supplements: pills, drops, sprays, lozenges, and gummies. Which supplement should you choose? Well, since the production of supplements is hardly regulated in the United States, you should always choose a reliable company with certified products.