Over time I have had many patients ask me why I’m so against supplementing melatonin all the time. After all, sleep is super important and melatonin helps sleep.
So let’s take a closer look at why supplementing melatonin can become problematic.
Our brain is the main producer for melatonin, and there is a specific chemical pathway that leads to melatonin being produced. We need the amino acid tryptophan to use this pathway. Along this pathway we also produce serotonin, the happiness chemical.
Because melatonin is the last step in this pathway, if we flood the brain with the end product, the brain basically figures it doesn’t need to spend time or energy on doing that itself.
The issue here is that it’s not that easy to convince the brain to start producing melatonin again if you were to stop supplementing melatonin, which means you may have to take it for a really long time.
The other issue is, simply put, your brain will stop producing serotonin.
Remember how it’s a step before we get to melatonin on that production pathway? And that serotonin is the happiness chemical?
If we cut out serotonin production, that can actually lead to depression, increased pain, and other problems.
Does this mean I think you should never supplement melatonin? Not necessarily. I did write an article a while back outlining some of the great benefits of melatonin that you can read here: http://unlimitedhealthy.com/portfolio/vitamin-c-zinc-melatonin-and-the-coronavirus/
But when it comes to supplementing melatonin, you do need to be careful.
Taking melatonin on occasion can be helpful.
Times to take melatonin include:
- you’re sick
- traveled across multiple timezones
- you need some sleep support one night, that’s fine.
That makes sense. That’s not long enough to mess up your own melatonin production.
The next question I get, is why I recommend Systemic Formulas’ DREM so often even though it has some melatonin in it. First of all, I get really excited when I get to realize that y’all are actually reading ingredients! Yay! That is such an important skill when it comes to your food and supplements. Excellent job!
And secondly, remember earlier I mentioned how tryptophan is needed to start off that whole serotonin/melatonin production pathway? When we take a look at the ingredients in DREM, you’ll find L-tryptophan, GABA, Kava Kava, 5-HTP, and much more. Basically, it’s a really great mix giving you some melatonin, along with its precursors and other supportive elements.
This is how your brain will continue making melatonin, while also having some supplemented. And you all know me, if I can have 1 supplement do lots of things all at once, that’s my preference. So in one go, you get better sleep, more relaxation and calmness, and the GABA also helps with mental clarity.