People with anxiety disorders often have a disrupted circadian rhythm and an altered sleep cycle. This is because the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HIPAA) that drives their anxiety also interferes with their natural sleep patterns, causing them to be awake at odd times throughout the day or night. Because of these factors, many people with anxiety turn to substances like melatonin to help them get rest and fall asleep more easily. Unfortunately, these individuals might be putting themselves at risk for adverse side effects if they take melatonin before bedtime. Can Melatonin Cause Panic Attacks? Let’s explore why this might be the case by looking at what we know about melatonin, its link to stress response, its relationship to insomnia, and how it could trigger a panic attack under certain circumstances.
Can Melatonin Cause Panic Attacks?
Although the connection between melatonin and panic attacks isn’t direct, there are certain situations in which melatonin could trigger an anxiety attack. If you have a history of anxiety disorders, you should avoid taking melatonin before bedtime to avoid triggering a panic attack. You should also avoid taking melatonin at certain times of day, regardless of whether you intend to use it as a sleep aid or not.
How Do Melatonin Trigger Panic Attacks?
- It’s important to note that a panic attack itself is not caused by melatonin. Instead, melatonin can trigger a panic attack in certain individuals who have a history of anxiety disorders. To understand the link between melatonin and panic attacks, it’s important to know what a panic attack actually is. Panic attacks are sudden feelings of extreme anxiety, worry, or fear that come out of nowhere.
- They usually hit without warning and can be accompanied by a number of symptoms including an irregular heart rate, sweating, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, blurred vision, tingling, numbness, and trembling. A panic attack happens when the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to produce extra amounts of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.
- This chain reaction causes blood vessels to dilate and blood pressure to rise, which explains why people with anxiety disorders often experience symptoms like a racing heartbeat or shortness of breath. While the exact cause of these symptoms isn’t fully understood, scientists have discovered that GABA levels play a major role in triggering an anxiety attack.
Why Do Melatonin Triggers Panic Attacks?
1. You Have Unmanaged Anxiety
If you have untreated anxiety, then you’re more likely to experience panic attacks. Melatonin triggers panic attacks in people who have untreated anxiety as it gives you a false sense of security. When your anxiety is unmanaged, your body is not getting the right amount of melatonin. This is why you’re taking melatonin supplements to help you get a good night’s sleep. However, the sleep hormone ends up causing you more harm than good. Taking melatonin supplements to treat your sleep disorders is like using a band-aid to treat a fractured leg. It’s not going to help you heal.
2. The Source of Your Anxiety is Unknown
Even if you’ve been diagnosed with a type of anxiety, it’s best that you consult your doctor about taking melatonin supplements as a sleep aid. When your doctor prescribes melatonin, be sure to ask if it’s safe for you to take the supplements given your anxiety disorder. If you’re not sure if you should be taking melatonin or not, you can always ask your doctor to run a blood test to determine if you have an abnormal level of melatonin in your system.
3. You’re Taking Other Medications That Cause Confusion
If you’re taking medications for anxiety and panic attacks, then you need to avoid taking melatonin supplements as a sleep aid. Your anxiety disorder medications are already causing you to have confusion and difficulty in understanding. Your melatonin supplements are only adding to this confusion. This is because melatonin is a hormone that is released at night that triggers serotonin, dopamine, and GABA release.
4. Withdrawal Symptoms From Other Substances
If you used to take alcohol or other supplements to help you sleep, then you need to avoid taking melatonin supplements as a sleep aid. This is because these supplements are triggering withdrawal symptoms from other substances. This is more common in individuals who are recovering from an addiction. If you’re one of these individuals, then melatonin can exacerbate your anxiety.
What You Should Know About Taking Melatonin Before Bedtime?
- If you’re concerned about melatonin’s potential to cause anxiety, you should keep in mind that melatonin may not be the best sleep aid for you. Although it is a natural hormone, there are a number of synthetic melatonin supplements available for sale over the counter.
- With consistent use, these supplements can help your body produce its own melatonin, but they may not be as effective for regulating sleep or circadian rhythms as the real deal. As we’ve established, the timing and dosage of melatonin play a large role in whether it will trigger a panic attack or not.
- If you have a history of anxiety disorders, you should avoid taking melatonin at all if possible. If you’re absolutely desperate for sleep aid, take the lowest possible dose of melatonin as late in the day as possible.
How Does Melatonin Help You Sleep?
- Melatonin helps you fall asleep primarily by reducing the amount of time it takes you to get there. Studies have found that taking melatonin can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep by an average of 10 minutes.
- Taking melatonin may also increase the length of your sleep cycle, which can leave you feeling more rested in the morning. Melatonin may also reduce the number of times you wake up during the night, but not by very much.
- Although melatonin is effective for promoting sleep, it is not as effective for maintaining it. This means that taking a melatonin supplement could decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, but you may still wake up during the night.
Pros Of Using Melatonin To Help You Sleep
- Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster and feel more rested in the morning. If you’re taking melatonin, you may also sleep through the night without waking up. However, it’s important to note that melatonin isn’t as effective for maintaining sleep as it is for getting to sleep.
- People who take melatonin before bed report feeling less stressed and more relaxed during the day. In fact, melatonin has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which are commonly elevated due to stress.
- Melatonin can also help people with insomnia fall asleep more quickly. For people with circadian rhythm disorders, melatonin can be an effective treatment. Melatonin can also help protect against sleep disorders related to shift work and jet lag.
Cons Of Using Melatonin To Help You Sleep
- Although melatonin can help you fall asleep quickly, it doesn’t last long. Most people need to take melatonin about 30 minutes before bed to feel its effects. When it wears off, some people may experience a mild “crash,” characterized by irritability, low energy, or even mild depression. It is important to note that melatonin is not recommended for long-term use. It is best if used on an “as needed” basis. Melatonin may not be effective for treating sleep disorders related to circadian rhythms, such as jet lag and shift work disorder.
- Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in your brain. During the day, your pineal gland produces melatonin. This gland starts to slow down its production of melatonin as the sun sets, signaling to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Melatonin can be taken as a supplement in pill form or sprayed under your tongue. It’s also available as a cream that you can rub on your skin before bedtime. When taken in small doses, such as 0.5 mg or less, melatonin is considered safe for healthy adults and children ages 3 years and older.
- Melatonin may reduce the number of times you wake up during the night, but not by very much. Although melatonin is effective for promoting sleep, it is not as effective for maintaining it. This means that taking a melatonin supplement could decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, but you may still wake up during the night
Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the pineal gland to regulate sleep cycles. While it isn’t directly linked to panic attacks, it can trigger anxiety in people with a history of anxiety disorders when taken at the wrong time of day. If you have anxiety and are considering taking melatonin, be sure to keep its dosage and timing consistent. You should also be aware that synthetic melatonin supplements may not be as effective as the real thing.