Between the seasons changing, the overall stress of the current global stage, and the lingering pandemic, it should come as no surprise that many of us have been struggling to get a good night’s sleep lately — and while there’s no quick fix for managing stress, over the counter sleep aids like melatonin claim to help the sleepless side of stress.
According to a Healthline report, melatonin actually does a whole lot more than simply knock you out for the night.
At its core, melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain that helps signal to the body that it’s time to sleep. It helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and manage your natural sleep cycle—so taking an artificial dose of melatonin should in theory help with insomnia, reduce symptoms of seasonal depression, and foster an overall better sleep.
Here’s exactly what happened when I tried taking melatonin everyday for a week to combat the stress and anxiety I was feeling come nighttime—and how it ended up making my sleep routine worse than it was before.
I was relieved to have a bottle of melatonin arrive at my door.
I have just recently moved and between the stress of packing and moving and the days getting shorter (and to be fair, everything else going on in the world right now), I was not sleeping well at all.
The first day, I was so surprised by how quickly melatonin makes you feel drowsy. I took two gummies and fell asleep watching TV before I even thought about taking my makeup off.
I woke up feeling very groggy—and made a mental note to cut my dose down to just one gummy a night. While I definitely slept through the night, my morning felt like it was totally wasted by me trying to actually wake up and start my day productive.
That night, I washed my face and got cozy in bed before taking my gummy. I wasn’t risking the surprise drowsiness a second time!
Here’s where I started realizing that melatonin, for me, might not be the best solution to sleep issues. Once again I woke up feeling very groggy and unproductive. I ended up pushing my workout routine into the late afternoon, and pushed my lunch after that. I’m already not a morning person so this added grogginess was really an issue for me.
Tonight, I settled into bed, took a melatonin and fell asleep quickly. I also noticed that the guarantee of falling asleep made me less apt to practice the healthy sleep habits I had — like reading before bed and listening to calming meditations while falling asleep. Instead, I was just scrolling on my phone or watching TV knowing that I would fall asleep either way.
By the fourth day I was really looking forward to the week being over. I had wondered if I would eventually adjust to the grogginess I felt after taking melatonin but it certainly didn’t get any easier. I always gave myself eight full hours between taking the gummy and getting out of bed the next morning, but I feel like I would need at least 10 hours before it wore off completely—something I didn’t really want to commit to doing.
At the end of the week, I really assessed my situation. Yes, I’ve been stressed out and not sleeping well, but did I really want to use melatonin as a type of crutch that leaves me very tired and unable to practice my healthy morning routine to the best of my ability?
I decided to stop taking the stuff entirely and get back into a regular nighttime routine of reading and cutting screen time instead. It might not make me fall asleep as quickly or reliably as melatonin did but for me, it seems to be a more sustainable solution.