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247Health.com RDN: Five Things You Need to Know About Melatonin and Sleep 


Maybe you’ve noticed lately – seems like everybody and their mom is taking melatonin these days. But is it safe? Is it really effective as a sleep aid? Here are five fast facts to consider before you click add to cart on melatonin supplements. 

1) YOUR BODY MAKES MELATONIN. 

Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in your body’s sleep/wake cycle. Each night, in response to darkness, your brain produces melatonin to signal your body to go to sleep. Because of this effect, it is thought that melatonin supplementation might help some with more sound sleep, although most people produce a normal amount of melatonin according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. As we increase in age, our natural melatonin production decreases. Yet we can work with (versus against) our own natural melatonin cycle by practicing healthy sleep habits

2) WHAT YOU SEE MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU GET. 

Melatonin is sold as a “dietary supplement” in the U.S. and therefore is not regulated like a prescription or over-the-counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This means that the purity and accuracy and effectiveness of the dosage seen in melatonin supplements today are not vetted nor verified for your consumer health and safety. Be sure to talk with your doc (or other health care provider) about any supplements you are currently or interested in taking so that you make shared, well-informed decisions for your personal health. 

3) MELATONIN IS EFFECTIVE FOR A JUST FEW CONDITIONS. 

Melatonin supplements are “likely effective”, meaning reputable sources generally agree that the supplement is effective, for those (a) young adults and children who have trouble falling asleep and (b) blind children and adults who suffer from non-24-hour sleep wake disorder. Other conditions like insomnia in older adults and jet lag symptoms are currently seen as “possibly effective,” meaning the supplement might work. 

4) MELATONIN IS SAFE FOR THE SHORT-TERM. 

Melatonin taken by mouth is likely safe for most adults when used short-term. While using melatonin, you should be aware of the possible side effects of this supplement, including: headaches, sleepiness, dizziness, and nausea. 

Know that melatonin may not be for everyone and certain individuals are recommended to avoid melatonin, including those: ● looking to get pregnant and/or are breast-feeding● who are transplant recipients● with high blood pressure, depression, or bleeding or seizure disorders● on certain medications (such as birth control pills, high blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, and Fluvoxamine) ● who consume caffeine 

5) THERE ARE A FEW MELATONIN-CONTAINING FOODS. 

According to available research, these melatonin-containing foods include: eggs, fish, pistachios, and tomatoes. And consumption of these melatonin-containing foods may be one alternative to supplements to aid in signaling your body to sleep.


Lindsey is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, CDC Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach, and employee wellness expert in Franklin, TN. She graduated from the Dietetic Internship program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and prior to this, earned her B.S. in Human Ecology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

With over a decade of dietetics experience spanning the fitness industry as well as the public sector, Lindsey has appeared on Bustle, BuzzFeed, Greatist, HealthDay Living, POPSUGAR Fitness, and Well+Good. Lindsey is passionate about helping people dial down their food frustrations and turn up the healthier habits that make for a happier life.

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