A portrait of a woman closing her eyes

Can Melatonin Cause Nightmares – What the Experts Say

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body to induce sleep, and it’s also a popular supplement for people who struggle with sleep disorders and disturbances. While melatonin is helpful and provides excellent benefits, some people experience specific side effects, including nightmares or vivid dreams.

When you need to improve the quality of your sleep, meditation, a cup of warm tea, and deep breathing exercises often help ease you into a restful slumber.

Sometimes, sleep disorders are signs of stress, health conditions, or chronic pain, which can be alleviated with various treatments, including melatonin. While taking this natural supplement is ideal for sleep improvement, getting familiar with the possible side effects you might experience is crucial.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone, and melatonin production is essential in preparing the body for sleep. Towards the evening, melatonin levels rise, and you begin to feel tired at bedtime.

The production levels remain consistent throughout the night and begin to decrease as the morning approaches, which alerts your body that it’s time to wake up.

When insufficient melatonin levels are produced, this leads to a lack of sleep, and synthetic supplements can help regulate this cycle. This hormone helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which synchronizes the amount of sleep at night and the time you spend awake during the day.

When these levels are unbalanced, with either too little or too much melatonin, you’ll experience signs of drowsiness, irritation, and a lack of tiredness at night.

Working the night shift, long hours into the evening, late night screen time, and high-stress levels can impact how the body produces melatonin. A lack of natural light, especially in northern regions during the winter season, can cause the amount of melatonin to fluctuate or drop, resulting in a lack of sleep.

A woman holding a tablet supplement

Common Side Effects of Taking Melatonin

When you take melatonin supplements as sleep medicine, you’ll find it’s safe in small to moderate doses, achieving the desired effect of restful sleep.

When you take a higher dose, there is a greater chance that you may experience side effects that are often mild but unpleasant. Melatonin side effects typically include dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and sometimes nausea.

In some cases, more potent effects may result in low blood pressure, mild anxiety, and irritability. You may also experience intense or weird dreams, which may seem unexpected or unrelated to night terrors or a sleep disorder.

While taking melatonin may be unexpected, in most cases, side effects are mild and temporary. While this supplement is natural and safe, there is ongoing research to determine further the impact of taking it over the long term.

What Makes Melatonin Cause Bad Dreams?

You may naturally encounter vivid dreams, whether or not you take melatonin, though you’ll likely experience increased REM sleep and nightmares if you take other medications.

If you’re experiencing uncommon levels of stress or anxiety, or you have a chronic sleeping disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia, you may notice an increase in more intense, lucid dreams.

While no research directly connects the occurrence of vivid dreams with extra melatonin use before bedtime, there can be several factors that influence how you sleep, which may include this supplement.

Melatonin supplementation elevates this natural hormone’s levels, which promotes REM sleep, the sleep cycle that causes dreaming.

During this stage, vasotocin is released from melatonin, a protein that helps regulate sleep, specifically through the REM stage. This factor also contributes to the higher chances of vivid dreaming and may impact memory.

A moon in the night sky

How to Prevent or Reduce Nightmares

You may find that certain conditions contribute to higher REM sleep. These can have an effect on your dreams if you often experience bizarre dreams while using melatonin supplements. While dreaming occurs during this sleep cycle, medication, health concerns, and other factors can increase the likelihood of nightmares.

While melatonin supplements prove to be helpful in significantly improving your sleep quality, there are other ways to ease or reduce the number of stressful dreams you experience at night.

Good Sleep Hygiene

Practicing good sleep hygiene refers to how you prepare your space to optimize the quality of your rest. Keep your room dark, which can naturally boost melatonin production, and remove any distractions, such as lights, electronics, and noise, so you won’t be disturbed throughout the night.

You’ll also want to skip the extra cup of coffee in the evening and avoid large meals late at night, which can interfere with your ability to enjoy a good night’s rest.

Establish a Regular Sleeping Pattern

When you set a regular sleeping schedule, this helps you to become tired towards bedtime, whereas staying up late or changing when you go to sleep frequently can reduce the amount of melatonin production at night.

If you expect a long day at work or school, adjust your sleeping schedule to begin preparing for bed earlier the night before to give yourself a better chance at a quality rest.

Monitor Your Use of Supplements and Medication

If you consider taking melatonin while taking other medication or treatments, it’s essential to consult with your doctor or a medical professional to avoid any unwanted side effects.

Once you begin taking this supplement, note any changes to your sleeping pattern and the dosage to determine the right amount you need for better sleep.

Final Thoughts

Melatonin is a safe, helpful supplement that’s easy to buy in many natural food stores, pharmacies, and local grocery stores. While you’ll likely experience minimal issues, if any, while taking melatonin, review any health conditions or factors that may contribute to side effects.

Experience bad dreams or other effects while taking this supplement. You may find that a slight adjustment in dosage can make a difference in these symptoms.


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