7 Unexpected Things Doctors Want You To Know About Melatonin


When you hear the word melatonin, you probably think of sleep. After all, melatonin does play a big role in getting you to sleep each night. Some people get help from melatonin supplements to provide temporary relief from insomnia or jet lag. But what do we actually know about the sleep hormone? According to doctors, there are a few things about melatonin everyone should know.

"Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain that helps control daily sleep-wake cycles," Dr. Edo Paz, MD with K Health, tells Bustle. "Your body’s internal clock (a.k.a. circadian rhythm), as well as light exposure, influences how much melatonin the pineal gland makes."

Melatonin levels typically start to rise in the mid-to-late evening after the sun sets. It stays elevated for most of the night and then drops in the morning as the sun rises.

For people who need temporary help in getting sleep, melatonin is suggested to be taken on a regular basis for at least a few weeks. As Arielle Levitan M.D., physician of internal medicine and vitamin expert, tells Bustle, "The intention is to 'reset' your biological clock to show your body when to sleep. Melatonin is hormone your brain naturally makes to promote sleep and taking a supplement mimics this."

In the United States, melatonin can be purchased pretty much anywhere. Although Dr. Stephen B. Hill of Hill Functional Wellness, tells Bustle that melatonin supplements are a "conservative intervention for insomnia or other sleep-related issues," misuse can lead to some mild to moderate adverse effects. It's a good idea to understand the details about the use of melatonin before taking it. So here are some things doctors want you to know about melatonin.