Can Melatonin Keep You Awake?

Posted by Ascent Labs on

Can Melatonin Keep You Awake?

Melatonin is a hormone we associate with sleep. It helps onset our sleep cycle and promotes feelings of sleepiness. But is it possible it can does the opposite?

If you think using melatonin is keeping you awake rather than helping you fall asleep, you might consider finding a more suitable sleep aid for your body’s needs. 


Does melatonin help you sleep?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When your eyes are exposed to an absence of light, your brain’s pineal gland increases melatonin production. Melatonin is rapidly distributed to the rest of your body through your bloodstream, signaling your body to transition into sleep.

Although very effective, melatonin does not guarantee sleep with use. You can still compromise your ability to sleep by practicing bad sleep hygiene, such as drinking caffeine or using your phone late at night, disrupting your circadian rhythm


Why do I wake up at night when I take melatonin?

Generally, melatonin should not cause someone to wake up. The opposite- suppressed melatonin production or a lack of melatonin in your system- would cue your body to start waking up. Melatonin suppression generally occurs with light exposure

However it’s possible that taking too much melatonin might contribute to side effects that cause discomfort, making it more difficult to sleep.

Although uncommon and usually mild, some people report experiencing side effects from taking too much melatonin. Some side effects include: 

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or grogginess 
  • Feeling tired in the morning 
  • Elevations or drops in blood pressure 
  • Nightmares 
  • Agitation or mood swings


Alternatively, another explanation might be that you didn’t take enough melatonin to stay asleep through the night. Everyone has a unique sensitivity to melatonin, so what works for one person might not be enough for another. 


How do I make melatonin work more efficiently?

Choosing a different type of melatonin might help your body absorb it better.

When you take melatonin orally, such as gummies or tablets, it needs to be digested before it can be absorbed and used by the rest of your body.

Through the digestive process, more than 80% of oral melatonin gets metabolized before it can circulate your bloodstream- meaning more than 80% does not get absorbed. This makes oral melatonin poorly bioavailable and thus less efficient. 

When you compare various methods of taking melatonin, nasally administered melatonin was found to have huge potential, with the fastest delivery and most direct pathway to your brain which preserved the concentration of melatonin. 


How can I stay asleep when I take melatonin?

Regardless of whether you take melatonin or not, you should still practice good sleep hygiene to support your body’s ability to sleep better.

Avoiding digital screens close to bedtime like TV or your phone will be extremely helpful; the blue light from these devices will suppress melatonin production and make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Another thing you can do is consider a different kind of melatonin supplement. As previously mentioned, it may be possible that you didn’t take enough melatonin to stay asleep through the night. Using a more efficient melatonin could help eliminate this possibility.

Overall, melatonin should not be keeping you awake. But if you find yourself unable to fall asleep or find it even harder to fall asleep after taking melatonin, please consult your physician about continued use.