Melatonin Can Make You Towery: Try These 3 Alternative Sleep Supplements to Avoid a Hangover

Melatonin has become one of the most popular over-the-counter supplements for people who have trouble sleeping — and like so many others, I’ve tried it. However, the few times I have taken any amount of the supplement, I have felt groggy and “hungover” for hours the next morning. My body’s negative reaction to melatonin seems to defeat the purpose of taking it in the first place: feel more rested during the day. So, I decided that melatonin was not the best sleep aid for me. But are there other supplements that can help you sleep without the groggy side effects?

Below, Josh Axe, clinical nutritionist and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, shares the best alternatives to melatonin if you decide it’s not for you. It also explains why melatonin can make you feel hungover and how to prevent this effect if you decide to continue taking it. (For better sleep, also check out our roundup of the best mattresses, best pillows, and best alarm clocks of the year.)

Read also: This 5-minute trick can help you fall asleep at night

Melatonin takes about an hour to work and lasts about five hours, according to Josh Axe.

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3 Sleep Supplements to Try Instead of Melatonin

If you have a similar reaction to melatonin, how can you find a natural sleep aid that doesn’t make you feel groggy? Ax recommends the following sleep supplements the next time you want help catching a Z.

  • Adaptogenic herbs: “Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and kava help your body deal with stress and support your nervous system. They can also reduce the release of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can disrupt sleep,” says Axe.
  • Magnesium: “Magnesium is an electrolyte mineral that can have calming effects and can reduce muscle tension and headaches,” she says.
  • CBD or CBN: “CBD oil, made from the hemp plant, is not psychoactive, but it has calming and soothing effects,” says Axe. CBN is a type of cannabinoid which is used in more sleep supplements because it is the most sedative compound found in cannabis, according to Sandland Sleep.

Why does melatonin make me hangover?

Melatonin is a hormone which occurs naturally in the body, and helps you tell when to sleep and when to wake up. Taking melatonin is thought to improve sleep because it can help the body produce more of the hormone.

“Melatonin is generally thought to be safer to use than other sleep medications and less likely to cause side effects such as daytime grogginess the next day. That said, taking too much and taking too much late at night or in the middle of the night. could cause its effects to linger the next day,” says Axe. “Sustained-release melatonin pills can also linger in someone’s system and cause side effects in some cases.”

Although melatonin is different from sleep medications and is generally considered safe, some people may simply not tolerate it well. “For reasons related to people’s metabolism and possibly genetics, some may be more prone to experience side effects of melatonin, such as nausea or low energy,” says Axe.

How to prevent a melatonin hangover (besides not taking it)

If you experience side effects like sleepiness the next day when you take melatonin, does that mean you should never take it? According to Ax, you may be able to try some adjustments first. For starters, he says to avoid taking it in the middle of the night. “After taking melatonin, it starts working within an hour and lasts about 5 hours in the body, so taking it in the middle of the night is not the best idea if you want to wake up with energy,” he explains.

“Try to take a low dose to start with, take it about 60 minutes before bed, and skip the sustained-release melatonin if it seems to work for you,” she advises. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a low dose is generally considered to be 0.5 mg, and 5 mg is the high end.

For those who take melatonin daily, Ax says it doesn’t hurt to take a break from it every now and then. “It’s usually meant to be taken for short periods of time, such as several weeks or months, but not continuously forever (unless you work with a doctor),” says Axe.

“That said, it’s not known to cause dependence, so taking it longer may not be a problem unless you experience side effects,” he says.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or health advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have about a medical condition or health goals.

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