I am a student and is having insomnia. I used to be on OTC sleeping aids but when I heard about melatonin, I decided to switch because I know I shouldn’t be on sleeping pills for too long. It’s been almost two months since I started on a melatonin supplements but recently, I’ve been getting a lot more emotional. I cannot think of any other reason but the melatonin. I read somewhere that melatonin causes melatonin depression. It this it? What do I do about it?
Melatonin supplements, made from animal melatonin and synthetic forms of melatonin, are pervading the sleeping aid industry. Despite the fact that no hard evidence had been laid on the table, and no definite dosing is established to produce the desired effects, it is still doing relatively good in the market.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body. A hormone is a powerful chemical functioning within the body, and like all other substances, excess concentrations of such would cause undesirable effects. In fact, high levels of melatonin in the blood can cause excessive daytime drowsiness, disrupt the normal circadian rhythm instead of fixing it, and cause problems with the reproductive system. Another common complaint of users that is now getting everyone’s attention is an inexplicably withdrawn feeling after days or weeks of taking melatonin supplements – melatonin depression.
Yes, depression brought about by melatonin use. How so? Melatonin is also dubbed “the hormone of darkness”, a nighttime hormone. Normally, synthesis and secretion by the pineal gland of this hormone is triggered by dark environments, usually during nighttime. Release of melatonin then causes lethargy, drowsiness and muscle weakness signaling our brain to sleep, making it one of the major hormones responsible for controlling our sleep/wake cycle. A small amount of light entering the retina can cause disruption of melatonin production.
When melatonin is released during daytime, it produces the same effects. For shift workers, for example, they work at night and is forced to sleep during daytime, normal melatonin production is disrupted also causing disruption of their circadian rhythm. Total confusion! Other factors like jet lag and not enough environmental lighting can also trigger release of melatonin at inappropriate times causing melatonin depression. It would also explain why depression is seemingly prevalent during winter time where the weather is almost always overcast.
Intake of diet supplements is only appropriate when there is deficiency of the substance i.e. iron supplements for iron deficiency. Melatonin supplements are currently accessible to everyone and it makes you wonder if these people actually know the ill effects of indiscriminate use of such products. Oh, and did I mention that the recommended daily dose of melatonin is only 0.3 mg to 0.5 mg and the available melatonin supplements contains almost ten times of that a tablet? I am not surprised that melatonin depression is a common complaint for melatonin patrons.
After days of taking high doses of melatonin, the hormone accumulates in the body and does what it does best: make you feel gloomy, withdrawn, lethargic, irritable and drowsy during the day, thus melatonin depression.
But no worries, melatonin depression is pretty easy to deal with. You can stop the melatonin or lower the dose and you’ll be bright as the sun the next day. For gloomy days, winter and rainy days, expose yourself to bright light to stop melatonin production and stimulate release of serotonin and you’re ready to go! If you’re interested in melatonin, check out my article on can you overdose on melatonin? If sleep is a concern make sure you get the best pillow for your needs. Check out my review of the My Pillow.