Melatonin is a hormone used by the body to regulate sleep cycles. As such, producing a synthetic version and making it available for the treatment of various sleep disorders such as insomnia, jet lag and the simple establishment of a day/night cycle in the blind, made perfect sense. It may also have positive effects on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
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As we age, melatonin levels naturally drop, which may precipitate sleep problems.
How exactly is melatonin used though, and how effective is it when used for the induction of lucid dreaming? That and more answered below.
Is it safe to take melatonin?
Melatonin is generally considered to be safe, though simply tagging it as such may be a little irresponsible as there are several factors that need to be considered in this regard.
This synthetic hormone is said to be “Likely Safe” when taken over the short-term, orally, injected into the bloodstream or simply applied to the skin (people do that to prevent sunburns).
It is “Possibly Safe” over the long run, when taken orally. Instances when users took melatonin for more than 2 years have been recorded, and though no severe problems were noted, at such time-spans, some side-effects did come into the picture. These side effects include – but are not limited to – headaches, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, irritability and depression, which – considering the nature of the hormone – are quite logical indeed.
Melatonin should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women, as it is considered “Possibly Unsafe.”
In regards to safety in children, the hormone is considered to be “Possibly Safe” when used in a single dose. Multiple doses though and long-term use is “Possibly Unsafe” and should therefore be avoided.
There are several health-related issues which can be aggravated by the presence of added melatonin in one’s system. Melatonin has been known to aggravate bleeding, diabetes, depression and high blood pressure – among other things.
Long story short: if you have to take melatonin to sort out a short-term issue, you should probably go for it. Growing “addicted” to it over the long-run though may indeed be a tad more problematic.
Is it bad to take melatonin?
According to some, including MIT neuroscientist Dr. Richard Wurtmann, who introduced melatonin more than 2 decades ago, the “all-natural” hormone is much more than a simple and handy, non-addictive solution to all sleep-related problems.
Many of its effects and side-effects are unknown to this day and from a strictly technical perspective, self-medication with it is not recommended.
The most obvious problem with melatonin use is that – while it doesn’t cause addiction in the traditional sense of the word – it can actually make sleep problems worse over the long-run.
Being showered with abundant melatonin on a daily basis might prompt one’s own pineal gland to further reduce its own production of the hormone, and the consequences of that are as dire as they are predictable.
The problems related to melatonin supplementation arise from the fact that the FDA has it classified as a dietary supplement. As such, the producers of these supplements are not required to post overdosing-related warnings on their labels.
While – according to MIT researchers – the recommended dose of melatonin falls in the 0.3 and 1 mg range, supplement makers are not shy putting 10 times that amount per serving in their products.
Obviously: overdosing on melatonin will not kill you and it will not bring about an even remotely life-threatening situation (a fact that does explain the magnanimity of the supplement makers when it comes to dosage), but it can upset your hormonal balance, and that is a rather significant side-effect indeed.
Long story short: no, melatonin will not kill you, but it can make your life extremely miserable.
Can you overdose on melatonin and die?
As said above, while you can indeed overdose on this synthetic hormone, you cannot die from it.
The negative effects of overdosing cannot and should not be underestimated though.
What happens if you take a lot of melatonin?
The symptoms of melatonin overdosing are not particularly severe, but they can indeed be rather unpleasant. They include headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, joint pain, anxiety and a general state of nervousness, as well as blood pressure issues.
Blood pressure-related problems arise from the fact that some blood-pressure lowering medication also lowers the body’s natural melatonin levels.
While making up for this loss of melatonin through supplementation may make sense at first glance, that is not always the case.
Taking melatonin with coffee and alcohol is also not recommended. The bottom line in this regard is that if you are considering taking melatonin for whatever purpose, make sure you talk to your doctor about it first.
I will have to add yet another warning here: some people apparently have a hard time tolerating melatonin. For such people, taking a melatonin supplement is not recommended, even at low doses.
Is it good to give children melatonin?
As I already mentioned it above, melatonin is indeed sometimes given to children, to help them with a series of sleep-related problems and not only. The availability of the compound and its safety make it an obvious choice for some parents, though simply starting to medicate your child with melatonin for convenience purposes is obviously wrong.
Melatonin can definitely be useful for children with sleep dysfunction. Getting a good night’s worth of quality sleep is important for overall help, thus giving melatonin to children who cannot fall asleep can indeed be beneficial.
I have to note here that melatonin only helps with sleep initiation, but since this is the part of sleep that most children seem to have problems with, it can indeed work well.
It is not a secret that the modern world has erected increasingly more numerous hurdles and impediments to quality sleep for children. Melatonin can indeed be used to defeat some of these impediments, but caution should be exercised in its regard.
If a child can fall asleep on his/her own, within 30 minutes of hitting the sack, melatonin is most likely unnecessary.
I would personally say that keeping the use of this synthetic hormone short-term and occasional is the way to go.
As said above, the long-term use of melatonin has not been studied enough yet and most of its negative side effects come about with long-term use only.
Besides sleep issues, melatonin is used for a wider range of childhood issues, such as the treatment of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and even ASD (Autism spectrum disorder).
Dosage-wise, most children respond well to doses in the 0.5-1 mg range, but for some, the desired hypnotic effect can only be attained with doses as high as 3-6mg.
A side note: I personally believe you should steer well clear of melatonin designated “natural,” obtained from pig and cattle brain. Stick with the all-synthetic version, and be aware of the fact that there can indeed be differences in potency from one brand to another.
Timing is of the essence too. Giving the child a properly dosed serving of melatonin 1-2 hours before ideal bedtime is the way to go in this regard.
Instead of taking melatonin pills, you can eat melatonin-rich foods. Unlike the pills, foods containing melatonin have only positive effects. Melatonin-rich foods include:
- Pistacho nuts – just 2 nuts provide an effective dose.
- Goji berries
- Tart cherries
A 2019 study has shown that even just smelling lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) may increase melatonin levels in older adults.
Can melatonin be used for lucid dreaming?
The answer to that is a definite yes. In fact, I already mentioned in Lucid Dreaming Guide, that melatonin is indeed one of the supplements that can be used to expedite the onset of lucid dreaming.
Now that I have discussed the way melatonin works and is produced, it is time to take a closer look at how it impacts dreams and why it is a good choice for those looking to achieve lucid dreaming.
Whenever I take melatonin to induce one of my lucid dreaming episodes, I find that besides promoting quality sleep, it also makes things much more interesting: under its influence, dreams become more vivid and I find it easier to remember them in the morning. This is interesting in light of the fact that most specialists regard melatonin as a compound that only helps with the falling asleep stage.
There is now scientific proof though that in addition to promoting the natural sleep cycle, melatonin also impacts the REM stage of sleep, the very one where dreams occur. This impact translates to a lengthening of the REM stage, as well as a general improvement of its quality. Dreams born under such an improved REM sleep-stage, are clearer, in fact, they most often border on hallucination.
How do you use melatonin for lucid dreaming?
While melatonin does improve the quality of the REM sleep cycle, and with it, the quality of dreams, that does not mean it will single-handedly usher in lucid dreams too. It merely creates an environment well suited for the appearance of lucid dreams, and if they do indeed come about, it greatly improves their quality too. Together with melatonin, those looking for lucid dreams should also apply the techniques I’ve already detailed in my article dedicated solely to lucid dreams (reality checks, the keeping of a dream journal etc).
Control is a central element of every lucid dream: the more control one retains, the more enjoyable the experience will be. This is yet another aspect of lucid dreaming where melatonin greatly helps.
In my own personal experience, I’ve always exerted more control in my lucid dream while on melatonin than without it.
As far as dosage is concerned, starting out with 3 mg for lucid dreaming makes perfect sense. Assuming the aspiring lucid dreamer is indeed an adult, such a dose is necessary. Taking more from the get-go makes little sense, though if needed, this dose can be upped to 6 mg.
I personally only use 3 mg, and I take it about 15-30 minutes before going to bed. It is important to remember that the half life of melatonin in the body is about 45-60 minutes, so it has to be timed well for maximum effect.
Does melatonin have any side-effects dreams-wise?
The direct negative effects of melatonin – when taken for lucid dreaming – are quite insignificant. Just remember never to abuse the substance, and if possible, keep your use of it on an occasional level.
While for most dream-junkies and experienced lucid dreamers, more vivid dreams are a boon, for those plagued by nightmare problems, this is hardly the case.
This is indeed one of the major indirect negative side effects of melatonin: it can potentially make nightmares more vivid as well.
I will have to point it out in this regard though that melatonin will not give you nightmares in and of itself. If you’re already having nightmare problems though, it can increase the severity of those problems.
On the other hand – and this is indeed linked to nightmares – melatonin can increase the frequency of sleep paralysis. It sort of creates the perfect setting for sleep paralysis to occur, by shutting down the body, but not so much the mind. Therefore, if you dread sleep paralysis (even though it is a harmless phenomenon), steering clear of melatonin would be advised.
Can melatonin be used for astral projection?
Given its impact on the REM sleep stage and its apparent ability to promote sleep paralysis, melatonin makes the list of supplements recommended for astral projection.
My theory in this regard is that due to its above said effects, melatonin makes it easier for astral projectors to reach the hypnagogic state, that is indeed the critical point in every out-of-body experience.
Moreover, since melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, which is believed to be the “third eye,” it’s very possible that taking melatonin may facilitate third-eye-mediated phenomena, such as astral projection.
Some people report that melatonin helps them reach the vibratory stage of astral projection faster and that the vibrations are more intense than usual.
Another mechanism by which melatonin may improve one’s chances to successfully project is by bringing about sleep paralysis, as I explained above.
I can personally attest to the fact that under the effect of melatonin, astral projection is indeed quicker and easier to achieve.
If you’re practicing astral projection while not being tired enough to enter the trance state, melatonin may help prepare your body to fall asleep. (But don’t forget that light destroys melatonin, so make sure you’re in a dark room when attempting this.)