Melatonin myths: Know facts about the hormone that improves sleep and memory

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that keeps the body's circadian rhythm under check. Here are many common myths about melatonin supplements.
Melatonin supplement myths
Know common myths about melatonin supplements. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Purvi Kalra Updated: 4 Jan 2024, 12:55 pm IST
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A good night’s sleep is a beautiful way to restore your body. However, 1 in 3 adults are not able to get enough of it. For some, it’s a hectic schedule, while for others, it’s their chaotic mind that runs a marathon every minute. The result? Many people have turned to melatonin supplements that claim to improve sleep quality and improve brain power. However, the question that pops into the mind is that “Is it safe to consume melatonin supplements?”. There are so many myths that surround the topic of melatonin consumption. Let’s take a look.

What is melatonin?

Our internal body’s clock functions on the circadian rhythm that is responsible for maintaining and regulating our daily functions. One of its core functions is to keep our sleep-wake cycle under control. The pineal gland in the brain produces melatonin, a hormone that assists in the regulation of sleep patterns. It is typically secreted in response to darkness, and its production assists in triggering sleep and maintaining the circadian rhythm.

sleep issues due to lack of melatonin in the body
Insomnia or other sleep issues are caused by dysfunctional secretion of melatonin in the body. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

However, due to the modern-day lifestyle, the regulation of secretion of melatonin in the body gets disrupted. People who work on night shifts, suffer from jet lag or have issues like insomnia, may have decreased or abnormal melatonin release patterns. Melatonin gives a signal to the body about its sleep time and provokes us to wake up timely in the morning when the brain ceases the production of melatonin.

Also read: Give your baby a massage to help them sleep better! Here’s how

However, it is important to clarify some common myths about melatonin. Health Shots got in touch with Dr Suhas H S, Consultant-Pulmonologist, Manipal Hospitals, Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru, to bust common myths about melatonin.

Myth 1: Melatonin is a sleeping pill

“One of the common myths about melatonin is that it is a sleeping pill. While in reality, it is not a sleeping pill, it just aids in the regulation of the body’s clock. It does not induce sleep on its own and thus can be used safely,” says the expert.

#Myth 2: Melatonin consumption is addictive

Another myth says that melatonin is addictive and turns into a habit once taken regularly. In reality, it does not have any addictive properties. Instead, it acts as a medication to help maintain the circadian rhythm. But, that doesn’t mean that it is free from side effects. People may experience dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, headaches, and irritability. Therefore, one should have a prescription with them to consume the tablet as per the doctor’s recommendation.

common myths about melatonin
Various sleep issues are caused by lack of melatonin production in the body. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Myth 3: Melatonin causes desensitisation over some time

“There are people who think that melatonin leads to desensitization over some time. However, long-term studies conclude that there is no such effect as desensitization. Melatonin essentially acts as a natural chemical that gets produced within the body. When provided in the form of a supplement, it just enhances the production and aids in keeping the circadian rhythm in our body. Small amounts of melatonin are present in the food we consume, which can also contribute to inducing sleep,” says the expert.

#Myth 4: Melatonin has a negative impact on blood pressure

“Many people doubt that melatonin has a negative impact on blood pressure or results in increase or decrease of blood pressure. However, in reality, there is no evidence linking melatonin to negative impacts on blood pressure. It has not been associated with any changes, whether elevating or reducing blood pressure,” says the expert.

A word of caution from Health Shots. Do not consume any supplements without expert supervision or doctor’s recommendation to avoid any adverse effect.

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About the Author

After testing her skill-set in the field of management and marketing, Purvi Kalra is exploring the world of turning thoughts to words. Her penchant for writing stems for being an avid reader all her life. Her work drives her to be better every day. ...Read More

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