Melatonin Doesn't Make You Feel Tired — Here's What It Actually Does
We all need to get consistent, quality sleep to feel our best, and many people turn to supplemental melatonin hoping it will help them get it. But according to board-certified sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., there's a common misconception about the hormone-turned-popular-sleep-aid that he sees all the time.
What people get wrong about melatonin.
According to Breus, people often think supplemental melatonin is a sleep initiator (aka that it makes you feel tired). But "to be clear," he says, "melatonin is a sleep regulator, not a sleep initiator. Melatonin does not make you feel sleepy; it tells your body it's bedtime. Those are two completely different processes in the brain."
He explains that this results in people using melatonin incorrectly, as if it were a sleeping pill, when it's actually a circadian regulator. Your circadian rhythm, or your body's internal clock, essentially regulates energy levels throughout the day through a variety of actions, including signaling that it's time to go to bed.
"So no one needs it if they have a problem falling asleep unless it's due to a circadian misalignment like flying to a new time zone or starting to work the night shift," Breus tells mbg.
What to do instead.
When it comes to helping your body fall asleep faster, getting into a consistent sleep routine will help you a lot more than taking melatonin. Breus and other health experts agree that going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is the single most transformative thing you can do for your sleep.
Other healthy sleep hygiene habits include avoiding heavy late-night foods, laying off caffeine and alcohol, shutting off tech at night, and carefully timing your light exposure.
And if you're looking for a sleep supplement with ingredients that can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, allow us to introduce mbg's nonhormonal sleep support+ formula, which combines the research-backed benefits of magnesium bisglycinate, jujube, and PharmaGABA®.* These ingredients have been shown to help support a healthy circadian rhythm and promote relaxation so you can unwind with ease and fall asleep more readily (plus, they also enhance sleep quality, promoting truly deep and restorative rest).*
Melatonin is not intended to help you fall asleep faster each and every night. If that's your goal, getting into a regular sleep schedule will go a lot further in helping you get a solid night's rest.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.