Can Melatonin Cause Nightmares

Melatonin Research

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, crucial for regulating sleep-wake cycles. It is widely used as a sleep aid, enhancing sleepiness and maintaining circadian rhythms—the optimal starting dose for adults at a typical dose of 1 mg to 5 mg daily. Nonetheless, there are reports of some individuals experiencing nightmares after taking melatonin supplements.

The causality between melatonin and nightmares is unclear, as nightmares generally occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep when the brain is active in ways resembling wakefulness. This stage, which hosts most dreaming, especially intensifies later in the night, correlating with an increased incidence of nightmares. Such distressing dreams are frequently linked to stressful life events, trauma, certain medications, and mental health conditions, suggesting multiple potential triggers. However, further research is essential to delineate the relationship between melatonin usage and the occurrence of nightmares.1

Key Takeaways:

  • Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
  • Some individuals have reported experiencing nightmares after taking melatonin.
  • The link between melatonin and nightmares is still being investigated.
  • Personal accounts and limited scientific research suggest a potential link.
  • Adjusting melatonin dosage and exploring alternative sleep aids can help alleviate nightmares.

Exploring the Link Between Melatonin and Nightmares

Scientific research and personal accounts provide valuable insights into the relationship between melatonin and nightmares. While limited studies have explored this topic, there is evidence suggesting a potential link between melatonin use and the occurrence of nightmares.

Why Does Melatonin Give Me Nightmares

Research shows that supplemental melatonin can increase a person’s overall sleep time, particularly the duration spent in REM sleep, the phase most associated with dreaming.2 Consequently, by extending the time in this specific sleep stage, melatonin might contribute to an extended opportunity for experiencing nightmares, aligning with findings that suggest an increase in dream intensity, including more frequent and vivid nightmares.

However, the nightmares experienced by individuals taking supplemental melatonin could also be influenced by other factors. For example, psychological distress can lead to insomnia, which is often treated with melatonin, yet this stress itself can result in more frequent nightmares. Thus, determining whether the nightmares are caused by stress or the melatonin supplementation remains challenging, emphasizing the need for further research to clarify this relationship.

how to stop melatonin nightmares

How to Stop Melatonin Nightmares

If you experience nightmares while taking melatonin, there are several remedies and alternative sleep aids you can try. One option is adjusting the melatonin dosage, reducing it to a lower dose, or discontinuing it altogether. This may help alleviate or reduce the incidence of nightmares. Additionally, exploring alternative sleep aids such as valerian root, chamomile, or lavender can provide natural alternatives for promoting better sleep without the risk of nightmares.

To avoid nightmares while using melatonin or any other sleep aid, it’s important to prioritize safety and optimize sleep quality. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Follow a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, even on weekends.
  2. Create a relaxing sleep environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.
  3. Avoid stimulating activities before bed: Limit exposure to electronics, exercise, and caffeine in the evening.
  4. Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in meditation, deep breathing, or gentle stretching to relax your body and mind before bedtime.
  5. Establish a bedtime routine: Develop a calming routine that signals your body that it’s time to sleep.
  6. Limit daytime napping: Avoid long or late afternoon naps that can interfere with nighttime sleep.
  7. Manage stress: Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as through exercise, journaling, or talking to a therapist.
  8. Avoid heavy or spicy meals before bed: Opt for light, balanced meals in the evening to promote better digestion and prevent discomfort during sleep.
  9.  Limit alcohol and nicotine intake: Both substances can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to more nightmares.

Making these lifestyle changes can significantly improve sleep quality and reduce the occurrence of nightmares. By prioritizing safety, adjusting sleep aids when necessary, and implementing healthy sleep habits, you can optimize your sleep and enjoy restful nights without melatonin-induced nightmares.


In conclusion, while melatonin effectively regulates sleep cycles and improves sleep quality, its potential link to nightmares cannot be overlooked. Individuals must monitor their reactions to melatonin and adjust dosages accordingly to minimize adverse effects like nightmares. The relationship between melatonin and nightmares remains an area that needs further exploration to understand the underlying mechanisms fully. Individuals experiencing nightmares after starting melatonin should consider adjusting their dosage or exploring alternative sleep aids and strategies.

Furthermore, adopting healthy sleep practices and managing stress effectively can play a significant role in reducing the likelihood of nightmares, whether related to melatonin use or other factors. Implementing a consistent sleep routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants before bedtime can significantly enhance sleep quality and reduce the frequency of distressing dreams. By addressing these factors, individuals can improve their sleep quality and minimize the risk of nightmares, ensuring more restful and rejuvenating nights.


  1. Disturbed dreaming, posttraumatic stress disorder, and affect distress: a review and neurocognitive model ↩︎
  2. Melatonin in patients with reduced REM sleep duration: two randomized controlled trials ↩︎

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