Melatonin gives me nightmares: Can Melatonin Cause Bad Dreams? What Experts Say – Cleveland Clinic
Can Melatonin Cause Bad Dreams? What Experts Say – Cleveland Clinic
When you’re unable to sleep, you have many potential options to induce snoozing: drinking tea or warm milk, meditation or doing deep breathing exercises.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
In recent years, many people have turned to melatonin — a naturally secreted hormone that’s also sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement — to bring on ZZZs.
A National Center for Health Statistics report found the number of adults taking melatonin more than doubled between 2007 and 2012.
As a supplement, melatonin is associated with helping you get to sleep — and stay asleep. However, many people who take melatonin also report having vivid or bad dreams, a side effect that may be concerning.
We spoke with behavioral sleep medicine psychologist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, about how melatonin affects your body and what side effects to look for.
What is melatonin?
Dubbed the “sleep hormone,” melatonin functions as both a turn-down service and an internal alarm clock. When your melatonin levels increase, you start to feel tired and more chilled out. Decreasing melatonin levels are a signal that it’s time to rise and shine. “Melatonin helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up,” says Dr. Drerup.
Melatonin is synthesized from serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter associated with happy feelings. This synthesis happens in your pineal gland, a small, oblong-shaped gland located in your brain. Within the pineal gland, melatonin production fluctuates depending on the time of day.
“Darkness prompts the pineal gland to start producing melatonin, while light causes that production to stop,” says Dr. Drerup. “As a result, melatonin helps regulate one’s circadian rhythm and synchronize our sleep-wake cycle with night and day.” That’s why you start to feel sleepy as soon as it gets dark — or find yourself drowsy in afternoons during winter when the sun sets earlier.
In an ideal world, melatonin levels would sync up with the presence of natural light. However, melatonin levels can decrease due to factors such as stress, smoking and shift work that disrupt your sleep patterns. If you are in the habit of scrolling through your phone or tablet at night, the glow produced by your screen can also cause melatonin to drop. A lack of exposure to natural light during the day is also associated with lower melatonin levels.
“Timing of melatonin onset is key to help sleep,” Dr. Drerup says. “Most people’s bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own.” In fact, research has shown adults with circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including delayed sleep-wake phase disorder and jet lag, benefit most from more melatonin.
Does melatonin cause bad or vivid dreams?
In general, you might have more vivid dreams if you’re anxious or stressed. Certain sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, and taking medications such as beta blockers and antihistamines, can also lead to an increase in vivid dreams and/or nightmares.
However, according to Dr. Drerup, it’s unclear if taking extra melatonin before going to bed causes bad or vivid dreams. “There’s no conclusive evidence as to how exactly your dreams are affected by taking melatonin supplements,” she says.
Reasons you might have vivid dreams after taking melatonin
If you are having particularly vivid or bad dreams after taking melatonin, it may be your body’s natural response to falling into a deeper, more restful sleep. Studies have found that melatonin can increase REM sleep, the sleep cycle known for causing vivid dreams. “If you are spending more time in the stage of sleep where vivid dreams are most likely to occur, this may naturally lead to increases in bad/vivid dreams,” says Dr. Drerup.
When you’re sleeping, melatonin also releases vasotocin, a protein that regulates REM sleep, she adds. “Increased amounts of melatonin may lead to higher levels of vasotocin — therefore more REM sleep and potentially vivid dreams. ” Scientists are also exploring the links between melatonin and memory. A 2020 study found that after melatonin broke down in the body, one of the resulting molecules helped mice improve their long-term memory.
What are the side effects of taking melatonin?
Dose-wise, Dr. Drerup suggests you take between 1 to 3 milligrams of melatonin per night. “Melatonin is generally safe for most people, but too high of a dose can lead to unpleasant side effects.”
Common side effects from taking melatonin include:
Less common side effects from taking melatonin include:
- Temporary feelings of depression.
- Mild anxiety.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Reduced alertness.
- Low blood pressure.
The long-term effects of taking melatonin are also a question mark. “Minimal research exists on using melatonin beyond a few months,” says Dr. Drerup. “In general, melatonin usage has only been deemed safe for up to three months, even though many people take it for much longer.”
However, because melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement, it isn’t regulated by the FDA. This means what’s marketed as melatonin could be something far different. A 2017 study found the actual melatonin content in 71% of supplements didn’t match the amount advertised on the label. Researchers found supplements contained fillers, preservatives or even serotonin — the latter of which can be harmful in higher doses.
And while melatonin is easily available over the counter, Dr. Drerup recommends talking to your doctor before starting to take it, just as you would any other supplement. “It’s best to check especially if you have any health conditions, and also so your doctor can review any potential interactions with other medications/supplements.”
Why You Might Experience Nightmares While Taking Melatonin
If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep at night, chances are someone has recommended that you try melatonin. This over-the-counter supplement can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle when taken about an hour before bed. But while melatonin is popular, it could also have some unintended side effects — and experts generally agree that it isn’t a long-term solution to your sleep problems.
One of the more surprising side effects of taking melatonin? Nightmares. Here’s why they happen — and what you can do to get a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Why Does Melatonin Cause Nightmares?
If you’ve had terrifying dreams while taking melatonin, you’re not alone. Melatonin can help you fall asleep faster, but according to Lisa Medalie, PsyD, a board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist and creator of the children’s sleep app DrLullaby, it can also cause you to stay in the deeper stages of sleep longer, which could open the door for more vivid or intense dreams.
“Most people take melatonin because they are experiencing difficulty falling asleep, returning to sleep, or insufficient sleep,” Dr. Medalie told POPSUGAR. If you’re struggling with any of those things, chances are you’re not sleeping long enough to experience periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. “If melatonin is helpful and keeps such individuals asleep for longer, they may then actually experience longer and possibly higher-density REM sleep,” Dr. Medalie explained. “With longer bouts of REM from longer sleep periods — and even more likely, with higher-density REM sleep — this allows for the potential of more vivid or intense dream content, as dreams occur during REM sleep.”
Kristen Willeumier, PhD, neuroscientist and author of BioHack Your Brain: How to Boost Cognitive Health, Performance and Power, agreed, citing research that suggests melatonin can normalize REM sleep percentage and REM sleep quality. “While it is currently unclear why melatonin causes nightmares, it is most likely due to its effects on REM sleep, a stage of the sleep cycle when we experience vivid dreams,” Dr. Willeumier told POPSUGAR. “REM sleep is a time when we process our unresolved emotions in support of healthy social and emotional functioning. Dreams are a time when we can be exposed to fear-inducing stimuli (i.e., stress, anxiety, and worry) in a safe environment.”
So, while melatonin itself isn’t necessarily to blame for your nightmares, the deep sleep it allows you to have could be setting the stage for these dreams.
What Should You Do If You’re Experiencing Nightmares?
Everybody has nightmares every now and then, but if you’re experiencing them regularly and they’re affecting the quality of your sleep, you should talk to your doctor.
“In general, if you are taking any OTC or prescription medication that is producing unpleasant side effects, it is appropriate to talk to your doctor about how to safely discontinue,” Dr. Medalie said. She added that regular nightmares can be cause for concern, regardless of whether you’re taking melatonin or some other supplement or medication. “If nightmares occur outside of taking melatonin, they might be a symptom of either post-traumatic stress disorder, or even nightmare disorder,” Dr. Medalie explained. “Those who have a history of trauma may experience flashbacks during sleep (i.e. nightmares), which can cause insomnia, sleep loss, and elevated distress.” In that case, it’s important that the underlying cause be treated.
“If you are experiencing nightmares, the first thing to do would be to determine if they are related to any other existing general health or mental health issue,” Dr. Willeumier said. So, talk to your doctor, who can help get to the root of the problem and suggest a treatment plan, or refer you to a specialist who’s better equipped to help. “Non-pharmacological treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on addressing the distorted thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with techniques that help correct the distortions in cognition,” Dr. Willeumier told POPSUGAR. “There are variations of CBT, including image rehearsal therapy, lucid dreaming, sleep dynamic therapy, systemic desensitization, hypnosis, EMDR therapy, and relaxation and rescripting therapy. “
If you suspect melatonin is the sole cause of your nightmares, consider trying some alternative techniques to help you fall asleep at night. Dr. Willeumier recommends establishing a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly, refraining from eating three hours prior to sleep, avoiding caffeine-containing foods and beverages after 3 p.m., abstaining from alcohol before bed, dimming the lights in the evenings, using filters to block blue light from computer screens and smartphones, and keeping your bedroom temperature cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
Again, if these healthy habits aren’t enough to help you get restful sleep, talk to your doctor. The solution may be as simple as incorporating some soothing stress relief activities into your evening routine, or your doctor may prescribe a different medication or therapy to help. But, no matter what, you shouldn’t have to suffer. Good sleep is important, so don’t give up!
Can Melatonin Cause Nightmares? – Terry Cralle
This study opines that one in every 20 people experiences nightmares every week. Countless causes of nightmares exist. One of the associated or alleged causes is melatonin.
According to the National Institutes of Health data, usage of melatonin supplements doubled between 2007 and 2012. The report opines that roughly 3.065 million adults in the United States take this hormone’s supplement. This just goes to show how popular melatonin has become in the recent past.
Melatonin is produced in the neurotransmitter serotonin within the pineal gland in the brain. It is dispatched to the cerebrospinal fluid as blood. When light from outside is low, production or secretion of the hormone spikes. Light presence inhibits its production and release.
So why should you use it?
Taking a natural melatonin supplement helps to not only alleviate insomnia but better manage sleep disorders. When you use small dosages of melatonin before bedtime, you can reduce your sleeping onset time. The hormone can also be handy at enhancing your quality of sleep and in some instances, improve sleep duration.
Additional benefits of melatonin to our health include supporting muscle growth, improving mood, anti-aging effects, and being an anti-oxidant. Melatonin is also efficient at helping you cope with daytime fatigue and supporting brain function.
While dosages are considered safe when utilized appropriately, as we shall learn later in this article, usage should not be longer than 6 months without the supervision of a doctor.
Can Melatonin Cause Nightmares?
Yes, melatonin can facilitate the occurrence of episodes of nightmares!
So why do some users of melatonin supplements such as this one experience vivid dreams and nightmares?
As we have already established earlier on, naturally the brain releases this hormone on a cyclic basis for purposes of regulating sleep patterns. Melatonin brings with it a direct impact on the circadian rhythm and internal clock of the body. Sleep issues can come about because of the disruptions of melatonin cycles.
When you take supplements having melatonin, you can correct such issues. While that is great news to those grappling with sleep issues, some users experience an increased occurrence of nightmares. Specifically, some people grapple with exceptionally vivid strange dreams.
Lucid dreaming is also common with some users of melatonin. Lucid dreaming takes place when the brain is in a conscious state as dreams happen. This enables people to have control of their reactions to their dreams. Although some folks have claimed they were able to experience lucid dreams, no conclusive or definitive studies exist yet.
In the next section, let us look at how the use of this hormone causes nightmares. We shall also discuss how the hormone affects your brain and dreaming in general.
Melatonin and Dreams/Nightmares
Changes in dreaming are common with some melatonin users. Some users complain of nightmares or night terrors while others experience vivid dreams. There is also another group that battles hallucinations when they use melatonin.
This study done in 2015 sought to establish a possible link between nightmare episodes and melatonin. The research found out that melatonin while not a major cause of nightmares has a role to play when it comes to nightmares.
The research delved into an individual who was using ramelteon. This medication interacts with brain receptors directly to allow melatonin to enhance the natural sleep cycle. According to the research, the individual began to experience intense nightmares. Researchers discovered that once the subject stopped using the medication, episodes of nightmares stopped.
This particular case seems to opine that melatonin plays a role in the processes that regulate whether we have nightmares or dreams during the REM sleep.
Melatonin impacts dreaming via its effects on REM sleep. While it is true that vivid and narrative dreams take place outside the REM sleep especially late at night during the second stage, there is no doubt that REM is the sleeping stage that is linked the strongest with vivid dreaming.
What this means is that the alteration of REM patterns plays a big role in how we dream. The intake of melatonin altered REM sleep patterns at night. For instance, those that take 5 mg of the supplement tend to experience extended REM latency periods at night. This is characterized as longer than normal when it comes to REM periods.
Increased melatonin levels go miles to promote sleep stages that dreaming occurs more (stage 2 and REM). The only caveat to these findings is the fact that they are not only conclusive but also have not been replicated.
One of the reasons that explain the role melatonin plays in the direct effect on how intense or often we have nightmares is vasotocin. Melatonin releases vasotocin during release and it could be a factor.
Vasotocin plays a direct role when it comes to controlling REM sleep. Rising levels of melatonin influences the amount of vasotocin finds its way into the body. Because of this, your deep sleep might end up being affected terribly. The same is true of how you breathe.
Another explanation has to do with memory processing. Dreams are as a result of vasotocin’s and melatonin’s role in ensuring the brain makes sense of the memories. What this means is that the more melatonin the body produces, the more vivid dream episodes you will have as it seeks to assist the brain find out how the memories relate to reality once you are awake.
More research on how melatonin causes nightmares is ongoing. As soon as we have a hand on new research, we shall certainly make the necessary updates on this primer.
Appropriate Melatonin Dosages To Avoid Nightmares
Before looking at the recommended melatonin dosages, it is important to note that it is available in dissolvable lozenges, topical creams, capsules, and tablets. You can buy it in slow-release or rapid-release form.
When it comes to the administration of melatonin, it is paramount that you note two things:
- Dosages vary based on the reason behind the usage
- Dosages for children and adults are different
For instance, for adults, dosages range from 0. 3 – 5 mg daily. If you have a sleep disorder, you need to take 2 – 3 mg, 1 hour before bedtime.
When using melatonin, the best practice is, to begin with, low doses and gradually increase the dosage until you achieve your desired results. You must consult your doctor on the appropriate dosages for your body.
Dosage for Adults
Depending on the reason for usage, here are the appropriate melatonin dosages:
- For insomnia or sleep – 0.3 – 3 mg for 3 days
- For jet lag – 0.5 – 5 mg for 2 days
- For blood pressure regulation – 2 – 3 mg for 4 weeks
- For the sleep-wake cycle – 2 – 12 mg for 4 weeks
- For long-term sleeping difficulty – 2 – 3 mg for 29 weeks
Dosage for Children
At times, melatonin is administered to children to help manage sleep disturbances according to this study. Another study also looked into the use of melatonin in children for treating ADHD.
Of great importance to note is the fact that dosages in children are lower compared to adults. The wrong dosage in kids can be fatal. It could possibly lead to seizures. Just one dose of this hormone at 0.3 mg per kg is safe for children.
Extended usage of melatonin in children is highly discouraged as it could come in the way of proper gonadal development. Before administering melatonin to your child, it is prudent to consult your doctor. He or she will not only help ascertain whether it is appropriate for the kid but also recommend the ideal dosage.
Who Should Skip the Use of Melatonin?
The following groups of people should skip the use of melatonin:
- Pregnant and Breast-Feeding Women
Melatonin, according to this study, is unsafe for expectant and breastfeeding women especially when injected to the body regularly or taken by mouth. It might boast similar effects as those of birth control.
In addition to spiking immune function, melatonin may jeopardize immunosuppressive therapy utilized by transplant recipients.
- High Blood Pressure Patients
If you are taking medications tailored for controlling blood pressure, it is wise to avoid taking melatonin according to this study.
- Bleeding Disorder Patients
Melatonin might make your case worse if you are grappling with a bleeding disorder.
Melatonin can worsen depression symptoms. This study opines.
If you are diabetic, it is best to avoid taking melatonin in any form as it can increase blood sugar based on this study.
Combinations to Avoid with Melatonin
Combining some things with melatonin can turn out to be fatal. Some of the interactions you need to avoid or control their usage when using melatonin include:
- Sedative medications
- Contraceptive drugs
- Antiplatelet drugs
- Sedative medications
Melatonin side effects: What are the risks?
Is melatonin a helpful sleep aid — and what should I know about melatonin side effects?
Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
The hormone melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle. Natural levels of melatonin in the blood are highest at night. Some research suggests that melatonin supplements might be helpful in treating sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase, and providing some relief from insomnia and jet lag.
Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use. Unlike with many sleep medications, with melatonin you are unlikely to become dependent, have a diminished response after repeated use (habituation), or experience a hangover effect.
The most common melatonin side effects include:
Other, less common melatonin side effects might include short-lasting feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation, and abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension). Because melatonin can cause daytime drowsiness, don’t drive or use machinery within five hours of taking the supplement.
In addition, melatonin supplements can interact with various medications, including:
- Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs
- Contraceptive drugs
- Diabetes medications
- Medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants)
If you’re considering taking melatonin supplements, check with your doctor first — especially if you have any health conditions. He or she can help you determine if melatonin is right for you.
- Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I’ve already been vaccinated?
- Nail biting risks
Nov. 13, 2020
- Melatonin: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin. Accessed Sept. 12, 2017.
- Melatonin. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Sept. 12, 2017.
- Ferracioli-Oda E, et al. Meta-analysis: Melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PLOS One. 2014;8:e63773.
- Auld F, et al. Evidence for the efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of primary adult sleep disorders. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2017;34:10.
- Auger RR, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of intrinsic circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders: Advanced sleep-wake phase disorder (ASWPD), delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), non-24-hour sleep-wake rhythm disorder (N24SWD), and irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder (ISWRD). An update for 2015: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015;11:1199.
See more Expert Answers
Melatonin Gave Me Nightmares
My friends and family used to tell me I was the soundest sleeper they’d ever met. In college, my roommate had to shake me awake during a fire drill because I was in dreamland. No, I wasn’t passed out from sucking back too many Zimas. It’s just the way I used to sleep — so soundly, nothing could wake me up until my body was ready. Like the time I was four or so and we lived in California and my mom found me sound asleep on the floor after an earthquake. I’d slept through it and didn’t remember a thing.
After having kids, my sleep cycle changed and I’d wake up with every heavy breath, sniffle, or creak of them moving in their bed or crib. I was still able to fall asleep really quickly though, so I had that going for me.
Then, perimenopause walked into my life and took that away from me too. I’d feel so tired but lie awake in bed as my mind raced. Where I used to fall asleep on the sofa watching a movie, I’d now watch the whole thing and wait for the drowsies to wash over me, but they stopped coming. If I woke up in the middle of the night because my bladder was knocking on my front door, it would be hours before I could fall asleep again.
How could I go from being such a sound sleeper and needing ten hours of sleep a night, to not being able to sleep for more than a few hours at a time?
Last winter it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I realized this was my life now, and the old sleep patterns of yesteryear weren’t returning. I tried Tylenol PM which was highly recommended by a few friends. I laid in bed waiting for the pill to work its magic and lull me to sleep, but it didn’t.
What did happen was my body felt like an elephant was sitting on me. My limbs were heavy, and when I got up to use the bathroom, it felt like I was walking through mud.
I eventually fell asleep, but the next day I felt hungover and groggy. I wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. I tried for another two nights, wondering if maybe it was something I’d eaten, or if I was at a place in my cycle that was interfering with sleep even more than usual. I was also hopeful that perhaps if I could get one full night’s rest, I could get on top of this insomnia and get into a better routine.
Unfortunately, I kept getting the same result. That’s when, after seeing it on the shelves while grocery shopping, I decided to take some melatonin. I guess I didn’t reach for it at first because I’d assumed I would need something stronger. But it made sense to try it, since I’d read perimenopause messes with your melatonin levels.
The first night, I took my two melatonin tablets, I fell asleep within a half hour and didn’t wake up once. It was glorious, so I took them again the second night and was starting to feel like my old self again. Why had I waited so long?
For a few weeks I’d take them even if I felt like I could fall asleep on my own. I wanted to stay ahead of this sleep deprivation thing because it was affecting my whole life: I was irritable, I wasn’t retaining information like I had before, I always felt hungry, and I was super emotional.
I woke up one morning crying — I’d had a horrible dream that my kids had been taken by a man to help move furniture for the day and he wouldn’t return them until I gave him money.
The next night, I had a dream that my youngest was trapped under a pile of mattresses and I couldn’t get to him.
Then I had a dream that my ex-husband walked into my house telling me our kids had died, and he watched it all happen and didn’t do anything about it.
While I admit to being a worrier since becoming a mom, my kids are now teenagers and I’ve never had dreams like this. They were vivid. If I was dreaming about a person, they looked exactly as they did in real life. These nightmares seemed so real, it took me several minutes to calm down when I woke up.
I didn’t think that the melatonin was to blame until I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about our sleep troubles. She told me she had to stop taking melatonin because it gave her bad dreams. This prompted me to go to the Googles, where I read that melatonin can, in fact, mess with your sleep cycle over time and even be the cause of your bad dreams.
I didn’t want to quit my new sleep aid — the regular snoozing was too delicious. But I took some that night and had a horrific dream about being sexually assaulted.
I decided I’d rather lie awake than have visions like that in my head each night. And while the melatonin didn’t haunt my dreams right away, I suspect that was the culprit. I’ve stopped taking it for a few weeks and my dreams have gone back to (my) normal: Not that disturbing, and forgotten within a few minutes of waking up.
My tossing and turning at night has subsided a bit too. I don’t fall asleep right away like I did when I was taking melatonin, but I’ve been using a lavender satchel under my pillow my daughter made for me, and taking a hot shower just before bed to relax. I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like — but it certainly beats having nightmares every night, so I’ll take it.
See the original article on ScaryMommy.com
Vivid Dreams: Causes and Tips
We spend about two hours per night dreaming. Many people don’t remember their dreams or have only a vague recollection of what took place. However, sometimes, you may wake up with clear memories of your dreams.
The content of a vivid dream can cause feelings of joy or comfort. You may even find yourself waking up wishing you could return to the dream. Vivid dreams may be fantastical, leaving you wondering how your brain could have conjured such a strange scenario. Vivid dreams can also be upsetting or disturbing, and in some cases may interfere with experiencing quality sleep.
What Causes Vivid Dreams?
The two main stages of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. Although dreaming can take place during both REM sleep and non-REM sleep, dreams experienced during REM sleep tend to be more vivid. Additionally, REM cycles are typically longer and deeper in the morning (towards the end of sleep).
Factors that may contribute to vivid dreaming:
- Fragmented sleep: Since vivid dreams tend to occur during REM sleep, waking up during or right after REM sleep increases the chances that you will remember your dream more vividly.
- Sleep deprivation: A study found that participants deprived of REM sleep one night experienced longer periods of REM sleep and increased dream intensity the following night.
- Stress: Evidence suggests that individuals suffering from symptoms of anxiety during the day are more likely to experience dreams with upsetting content. This may also lead to mental health disturbances, such as anxiety and depression.
- Medication: Certain drugs can affect the vividness of dreams. For example, one study suggested that SSRIs (a category of antidepressant) decreased how often patients remembered their dreams but increased the vividness of dreams when they were recalled. Other medications may cause nightmares, such as beta-blockers (a treatment for high blood pressure) and medications for Parkinson’s disease.
- Sleep Disorders: This includes narcolepsy, which is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. Individuals with narcolepsy frequently experience vivid, bizarre dreams.
- Pregnancy: Physical and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause insomnia and sleep disturbances. A research study found that women in the third trimester of pregnancy experienced more upsetting dream imagery compared with non-pregnant women.
Are Vivid Dreams a Cause of Concern?
Typically, vivid dreams are not a cause for concern. Although researchers don’t yet fully understand the specific function or meaning of dreams, some postulate that dreams are a natural part of emotional processing and memory formation.
Nightmares are vivid dreams with frightening or unsettling content. Many people experience occasional nightmares that resolve on their own. However, nightmare disorder is a sleep disorder in which nightmares interfere with one’s ability to get sufficient sleep. If you are experiencing sleep loss due to chronic nightmares, it is important to speak with your doctor.
How to Stop Vivid Dreams
- Practice good sleep hygiene: Maintain a regular sleep schedule and ensure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep.
- Cultivate peace of mind: Researchers have found that people with higher scores on measures of peace of mind are more likely to have positive dream content. Peace of mind means being able to accept both the good and the difficult experiences that occur in daily life. To cultivate peace of mind, it may help to engage in stress-relieving practices such as mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises.
Melatonin Supplements and Vivid Dreams
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body which supports the sleep-wake cycle. There is conflicting data on the effects of melatonin supplements and dreams. It has been shown to reduce vivid dreams in certain sleep disturbances. For example, a study of individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder found melatonin supplements reduced frightening dreams and other symptoms.
In other scenarios, melatonin may increase REM sleep, and subsequently the chance to experience vivid dreams. Long term effects of melatonin use are unknown, so be sure to ask a doctor about whether it is safe and appropriate for you.
- Was this article helpful?
5 Reasons Why You’re Having Weird Dreams
You’re well past the point in your life where you’re scared of the dark. So why are you still plagued by frightening nightmares—or just plain bizarre dreams?
It’s true that nightmares and disturbing dreams prove most common in young kids. But they plague plenty of grown-ups, too: Up to
29% of us
report having nightmares once a week, according to findings in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Shop Our Mattresses
Experts know that dreams happen during REM sleep, the period of sleep when your brain is highly active. But they still can’t say for sure why we dream. Or just as important, what influences whether our dreams are chill and happy (riding a horse on the beach—woohoo!) or strange and scary (running from a threatening figure through the woods—oh no!).
But when it comes to the content of those unpleasant dreams, there are plenty of theories.
5 Surprising Factors That Can Cause Weird Dreams
1. You ate a huge, spicy meal for dinner.
Certain foods can impact how easily (or not) you drift off to dreamland. But foods that cause a fitful night’s sleep don’t just leave you tossing and turning. They might make for a crazy night of dreams, too.
Anecdotally, plenty of people report having weirdly vivid dreams after dining on something spicy or heavy. Some experts suspect that this could be because fiery foods raise your body temperature, which can cause you to have worse sleep. If you’re slightly more conscious, you might be more likely to remember your dreams more clearly, Stanford University sleep expert Emmanuel Mignot told the Wall Street Journal.
Anytime your food inhibits deep sleep, such as large meat-heavy meals, you may be more likely to remember your zany dreams.
Other experts chalk the effect up to meal size. The more you eat, the harder your body has to work to digest all of that food—a process that can make it harder to achieve restful sleep, University of Chicago psychiatrist Lisa Medalie told NBC News.
2. You’re taking sleep supplements.
Popping a melatonin supplement might help you fall asleep more easily. But it can also cause you to have super vivid dreams or nightmares.
In fact, one small study, published in Sleep and Hypnosis, found that college students (especially women) who took 6 mg melatonin before bed were more likely to rate their dreams as bizarre compared to those who took a placebo pill.
Experts aren’t entirely sure why, but it could be that melatonin leads to more intense REM cycles, which could kick your dreams into high gear. Instead, natural sleep aids are recommended over supplements like melatonin.
3. You’re going off your meds.
Specifically, antidepressants. If you and your doctor decide that you should stop taking them, lower your dose, or switch to another prescription, there’s a good chance that your dreams will be affected. Especially if you nix the medications quickly instead of slowly tapering off.
This tends to happen because antidepressants work by altering levels of neurotransmitters—or chemical messengers—in your brain. Stopping meds can affect how those neurotransmitters behave, which can result in strange or disturbing dreams, say
from Harvard Health experts.
Thankfully, the weirdness should stop once your body adjusts.
4. You binged on TV before bed.
In addition to blue-light disruption, the imagery from watching TV can influence your sleeping experience.
Sure, catching up on your favorite shows might seem like a great way to unwind before turning in. But once you fall asleep (which might take a while, thanks to the blue light emitted by your laptop or tablet), your dreams could be pretty strange.
Studies on children find that watching media before bed significantly ups the risk of nightmares. Some experts say that could be because little kids have trouble telling the difference between what’s real and what’s fake, so the stuff on TV is more likely to scare them.
But adults might not be immune to what they see on the screen at night, either. In a British survey of 2,000 adults, over 60% reported being more likely to have bad dreams after watching a scary or gruesome show.
5. You’re super stressed out.
There’s no shortage of research documenting the nightmare-inducing effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, and some findings estimate that 90% of people suffering from PTSD report having disturbing dreams.
But even higher than normal levels of everyday stress might be enough to trigger nightmares in some people. Generally,
that anxiety and mood problems are linked to higher rates of nightmares.
In these cases, taking steps to better manage your stress might be all that you need to keep nightmares at bay. But if you’re dealing with chronic nightmares, or your nightmares are impacting your ability to get a restful night’s sleep, talk with your doctor.
Dreams Aren’t the Only Sleep-Disturbing Culprit
As we covered above, plenty of factors can contribute to weird and uncomfortable dreams, ranging from stress to diet.
However, there are even more things to consider when trying to get a better, deeper 8-hours of sleep each night.
Most things you’ve probably heard of, such as limiting the amount of blue light before bedtime to avoiding spicy foods and sugary or caffeinated drinks.
However, the quality of your mattress matters as well. It isn’t as common knowledge, but the best mattress for you could depend on your sleep style. For example, the best mattress for side sleepers tends to be a softer bed, as the extra cushion helps contour to side sleepers’ hips and shoulders.
90,000 Does Melatonin Cause Nightmares?
The hormone melatonin is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for sleep. With a rapid change of time zones, wakefulness at night or sleeping during the day, a violation of biorhythms occurs. This is reflected in the quality characteristics of sleep and the general well-being of a person. The main condition for the production of melatonin is a sufficient amount of light.
In case of insufficient production of the hormone, doctors prescribe its synthetic analogue. However, according to the reviews of many patients, this artificial drug often causes such a side effect as strange dreams.
How artificial melatonin acts on the body and whether it actually has a negative effect, and will be discussed in this article.
Does melatonin induce strange dreams?
Sarah Hagi, a 24-year-old Canadian writer, has never forgotten her dreams. This is why she noticed that something very strange began to happen to her shortly after she started taking melatonin, a popular sleep aid.
“I definitely had strange dreams,” she told The Huffington Post. “They are really scary.” For example, one night she had a nightmare in which she saw that she had been shaved, and the next day she was convinced that it really happened.
Melatonin is a hormone that signals the body that it feels tired. This happens naturally when it gets dark. Synthetic melatonin can be used to treat circadian rhythm disturbances.
Hagi, who began taking the drug to regulate her sleep schedule, said she vaguely recalls that some people reported bizarre dreams warning her of the effect. But at that point, she did not realize how amazing her own experience would be.
What explanation does medicine give to the feelings of the writer, as well as many other people who took this medicine? Two specialists-somnologists expressed absolutely opposite opinions on this matter.
Melatonin is unable to induce bizarre dreams
Dr. Raphael Pelayo, professor of sleep medicine at Stanford University, said he does not believe melatonin causes vivid dreams.
Who Takes Melatonin? Of course, the person who has sleep problems. And as soon as you take any means to improve sleep, its duration increases and you have what is called REM recovery, ”he said. – This means that your body becomes more active in the REM phase.This is manifested in the rapid movement of the eyes and the acceleration of processes in the cerebral cortex. ”
Pelayo added that normal patients taking melatonin supplements in a controlled sleep laboratory setting do not spend more time sleeping or REM. This suggests that melatonin does not have the special ability to induce strange dreams. Long duration of REM induces dream activation.
The substance provokes strange dreams
Dr. Kotare, a sleep scientist at the New York Medical Center at Langone University, agrees that melatonin can induce strange dreams.
“Melatonin invariably causes prolongation of the REM phase, a normal circadian process that affects the quality of some forms of memory,” he said. “Therefore, people who start taking melatonin have more dreams.”
How about the quirkiness of dreams?
“Longer REM sleep gives you more opportunities to dream,” Pelayo said. “And most dreams are pretentious. This is the best explanation I can think of for this phenomenon. “
Kotare suggested that dreams can tend to be incoherent because the REM phase is an evolutionary phenomenon that arises from our most primitive regions of the brain, and not from the prefrontal cortex, which enables rational thinking.
For people who express concern about their strange dreams, Kotare suggests using a smaller dose of the remedy.
“I suspect the frequency of bizarre dreams is likely to decrease over time as the sleep cycle returns to normal,” Pelayo said.
Found a violation? Complain about the content
Benefits and harms of melatonin – LiderMed
Probably many of you have had periods of insomnia, a condition characterized by prolonged falling asleep and poor sleep quality, as a result of which you feel tired. People suffering from chronic insomnia are forced to take sleeping pills, the main drawbacks of which are either a quick fall into sleep, or a “heavy head” in the morning.These disadvantages are not observed in preparations based on melatonin. Let’s take a closer look at melatonin, namely the positive and negative aspects of this drug.
Melatonin itself is a hormone, but not the one that causes excess weight, acne and other “flaws”, but the one that regulates our daily biorhythms. Most of it is produced in the pineal gland (a small endocrine organ located in the cranial cavity), and begins active synthesis precisely in the dark.It enters all body fluids, primarily the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. The maximum concentration of melatonin occurs between 0:00 and 5:00. About 30 micrograms of melatonin are produced per day.
The hormone is the main regulator of human sleep, which does not directly affect the structures of the brain that cause sleep, but inhibits the wakefulness mode.
The production of the hormone in the pineal gland is highly dependent on light. Thus, in summer, when there is more daylight, melatonin is produced in smaller quantities than in winter.The rhythm of hormone secretion suffers greatly in the blind, with a rapid change of time zones, when the time changes within 12 hours, as well as with a shift work schedule.
The pineal gland hormone affects the secretion of other bioactive substances. It inhibits the release of sex hormones, slightly reduces the production of hormones produced by the pituitary gland.
BENEFITS OF MELATONIN
Melatonin has the following beneficial effects:
- Antioxidant. The hormone is the most powerful of the internal “neutralizers” of free oxygen radicals, which have a carcinogenic effect and accelerate cell aging by damaging DNA, proteins and lipids.
- Antineoplastic. Melatonin can either signal the immune cells that modified cells have appeared, or destroy them on its own when their number is still small.
- Melatonin is also beneficial in stimulating the immune system by activating the thymus gland, the “conductor” of the immune system, and the thyroid gland.
- The hormone reduces anxiety, improves emotional state. When stressed, it lowers the level of adrenaline and some other hormones, exhibiting an anti-stress effect.
- Increases the level of serotonin, without which depressive conditions develop.
- Adaptogenic properties – maintaining immunity in especially difficult periods for him: when the weather, climate, travel.
Melatonin acts mildly, speeding up sleepiness 1-2 hours after taking it. It is necessary to take the drug only in the dark.
According to the testimony of those who took the drug, all night after taking it, they have colorful dreams, and the awakening is independent, not very dependent on the alarm clock; at the same time, the person feels asleep and vigorous.
When the study of melatonin – the benefits and harms was carried out, the dosage of the drug was deliberately exceeded by several thousand times. At the same time, no side effects were observed either on this day, or after a week, or after a month. There is data on the intake of 24 grams for a month, while there were no harmful actions either.
Important: Melatonin is not addictive.
Only a small number of people who took sleeping pills with melatonin report superficial sleep with frequent awakenings, while in the morning they did not feel fatigued and weak.
The following side effects may also occur:
- stomach discomfort.
Allergic reactions have not been described – in modern preparations, not an extract from the pineal gland of animals is used, but melatonin synthesized in the laboratory.
No serious harm of melatonin for the body was noted, but the drug has not existed on the pharmaceutical market for a very long time – long-term effects have simply not been tracked.
Since the harm of synthetic melatonin has not been proven, for the sake of precaution, it is not recommended for admission without prior medical advice in such situations:
- during pregnancy and lactation,
- patients with deep depression,
- for epilepsy,
- children under 12 years old,
- patients with autoimmune diseases,
- for leukemia.
Thus, the benefits of melatonin are obvious, but there is no scientifically proven data on the harm. You only need to comply with the dosage, do not take it for conditions that are indicated as contraindications.
90,000 Michael Schredl, the Nightmare Tamer – Konstantin Kropotkin – Health – Site Materials – Snob
“One of my patients, a journalist by trade, saw himself dead in a coffin every night,” recalls a recent case, Michael Schredl, professor at the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim. – He shouted: “God, do not let me die, I am still too young, I have children!” And then I woke up abruptly. “
“Dreams occur during REM sleep, which lasts from 3 to 20 minutes. When we wake up from a screaming nightmare, this phase is interrupted, explains Schredl. – Nightmares are a protective reaction of the body, thus the psyche “digests” too strong daytime experiences, both negative and positive. But if bad dreams torment a person on a regular basis, this can have a very bad effect on the functioning of the brain while awake. For example, there are difficulties with memorization, concentration. In such cases, you have to do something about it. ”
The journalist was helped by a special technique, which is now being refined in the “sleep laboratory” in Mannheim: IR-therapy (“Imagery Rehearsal Therapy”).
To get rid of bad dreams, according to the professor, you must first understand them: for example, write them down immediately after waking up (and sketch them for children, not forgetting to designate themselves in a dream). Then, playing the plot of night horror in your mind, you need to think about how to find a way out of the situation.“Escape or awakening is not good in this case,” the German expert is convinced. – You can try to talk to a person who makes you fear. Or come up with an assistant. ” Michael Schroedl emphasizes that it is very important to write down “favorable” scenarios.
If you play them in your mind at least once a day, then your sleep improves in two weeks – as it happened with that journalist. “The technique is very effective,” added Schredl. “I would say she helps three times out of four.”
Another effective method of getting rid of bad dreams is more time consuming. Psychologists from Mannheim invite their patients to mentally ask five to ten times a day: “Am I asleep or awake?” The habit of checking the situation for reliability allows you to maintain the activity of the front part of the brain, which is responsible for critical assessment, even in sleep. Measurements of brain activity showed that the anterior part of the brain, which is responsible for critical assessment of the situation, after such training and during sleep remains somewhat active.“It turns out that part of the brain sleeps a little less than everything else,” explains the German expert. – Recently, most scientists are inclined to the version that sleep is not a dark box in which emotions and information received during the day are digested. This is a semi-autonomous system that we can influence. ”
His other recommendations do not look very original, however, as Michael Schredl noted, in this case every little thing is important. For example, he advises “ritualizing” going to bed: going to bed at about the same time, performing approximately the same actions – pajamas, brushing teeth, light reading at night (not a thriller on TV).”All of this has a calming effect on the psyche and reduces stress,” says the German doctor. – We call it sleep hygiene. It is important not to eat heavy meals at night. Do not drink too many alcoholic beverages or refuse them altogether. Do not watch TV in bed. Do not put a writing desk in the bedroom. ”
The professor himself has not suffered from nightmares for a long time, and as a child he often had to fall into the abyss at night – this, by the way, is one of the most frequent frightening dreams. Other “popular” nightlife horrors include being stalked, killed by loved ones, or your own death.
Creative people, Schredl concludes, have bad dreams especially often, but they should not over-romanticize their nightmares. Sometimes it is enough just to give up a fatty piece of meat and an extra glass of wine, so as not to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, waking up the whole house with a scream.
Anna Karabash: “There is another way:“ capitalize ”your bad dreams, as filmmakers like Tim Burton and James Cameron do. What kind of nightmares do you have? And do you want to get rid of them? ”
Description MELATONIN indications, dosages, contraindications of the active substance MELATONIN
From the hematopoietic system: rarely – leukopenia, thrombocytopenia.
From the immune system: frequency unknown – hypersensitivity reactions.
From the side of metabolism: rarely – hypertriglyceridemia, hypokalemia, hyponatremia.
On the part of the psyche: infrequently – irritability, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, unusual dreams, nightmares, anxiety; rarely – mood swings, aggression, agitation, tearfulness, stress symptoms, disorientation, early morning awakening, increased libido, decreased mood, depression.
From the nervous system: infrequently – migraine, headache, lethargy, psychomotor hyperactivity, dizziness, drowsiness; rarely – fainting, memory impairment, impaired concentration, delirium, restless legs syndrome, poor sleep quality, paresthesia.
On the part of the organ of vision: rarely – decreased visual acuity, blurred vision, increased lacrimation.
On the part of the organ of hearing and labyrinth disorders: rarely – vertigo, positional vertigo.
From the side of the cardiovascular system: infrequently – increased blood pressure; rarely – “hot flushes” of blood to the face, angina pectoris, palpitations.
From the digestive system: infrequently – abdominal pain, pain in the upper abdomen, dyspepsia, ulcerative stomatitis, dry mouth, nausea: rarely – gastroesophageal disease, gastrointestinal disorders or disorders, bullous stomatitis, ulcerative glossitis, vomiting, increased peristalsis, bloating, hypersecretion of saliva, bad breath, abdominal discomfort, stomach dyskinesia, gastritis.
From the liver and biliary tract: infrequently – hyperbilirubinemia.
On the part of the skin and subcutaneous tissues: infrequently – dermatitis, increased sweating at night, pruritus and generalized itching, skin rash, dry skin; rarely – eczema, erythema, hand dermatitis, psoriasis, generalized rash, itchy rash, nail damage; the frequency is unknown – angioedema (angioedema), edema of the oral mucosa, edema of the tongue.
From the musculoskeletal system: infrequently – pain in the limbs; rarely – arthritis, muscle spasm, neck pain, night cramps.
From the urinary system: infrequently – glucosuria, proteinuria; rarely – polyuria, hematuria, nocturia.
From the reproductive system: infrequently – symptoms of menopause; rarely – priapism, prostatitis; frequency unknown – galactorrhea.
On the part of laboratory parameters: infrequently – deviation from the norm of laboratory parameters of liver function, increase in body weight; rarely – an increase in the activity of hepatic transaminases, a deviation from the norm in the content of electrolytes in the blood, a deviation from the norm in the results of laboratory tests.
Other: infrequently – asthenia, chest pain; rarely – herpes zoster, increased fatigue, thirst.
90,000 In Perm, somnologist Grigory Anisimov tells how to get rid of insomnia and nightmares October 9, 2019 | 59. ru
– What is the best sleeping position? Why?
– Medicine should not be average, but individual, so there is no general recipe for the correct posture. Here is the latest data from the congress of somnologists last year: in older people, the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease – sleeping on the side – is better for washing away the pathological protein that leads to the disease.Additional prevention is physical activity and proper nutrition.
Respiratory arrest can occur when sleeping on the back in obese people. Slender people with jaw anomalies and children with adenoids and large pharyngeal tonsils may face the same problem. And babies under three months old are prohibited from sleeping on their stomach.
Grigory Anisimov says that a person can sleep in different positions, turning when the sleep cycle changes. Adults have 5–6 cycles of 90 minutes each, and a child under 5 years old has a cycle changing every hour, so they move more often in their sleep than adults.
– It is generally accepted that 9 hours of sleep is the norm. It is a myth?
– This is the average data. There are 1-2% of people who need 10-12 hours of sleep, they cannot work in the morning, but they are healthy. And there are those who need 5-6 hours. On average, it will take 9 hours, but everyone does not need to strive for this.
– It happens that when listening to loud music, for example, rock, you quickly fall asleep, and the sound seems to merge into one. Why?
– These are rhythms.By imposing a rhythm from the outside, you can sleep better. Parents come to us who say that in Perm the child does not sleep well, but well at sea. The rhythm of the wave and the singing of cicadas is triggered. If a person picks up the right music, he has a resonance with the rhythms of the brain, and he will sleep well even to heavy rock. In the deepest stages of sleep, a person can withstand up to 170 decibels.
– What explains a sleep disorder like sleepwalking? Why does a person start walking in a dream?
– It all depends on age.If this is a child, then at 1–2 years of age he may have night tantrums – he jumps up abruptly, points out somewhere, runs with a glassy gaze. The second point is sleepwalking, there are no conversations, this is immaturity of sleep, the brain is activated and the child is between sleep and wakefulness. At this time, consciousness does not turn on, but the body can move. This condition must be distinguished from nocturnal epilepsy.
Eating disorders during sleep occur in those who are losing weight, who for a long time “tortured” themselves with diets, which is manifested by nightly gluttony.
– How to explain the answers to questions during sleep ?
– There is a monologic and rapport dreaming when a person answers. This happens when a person is emotional or inherited it. Nothing wrong, I talked – I threw out my emotions.
– We sorted out the dream. What to do to avoid snoring?
– What is snoring? The air must flow through the breathing tube sequentially, in a laminar manner.If something interferes with it, then the air begins to flow turbulently and causes a sound wave, which we call snoring. It does not manifest itself during breathing while awake, because muscle tone decreases only in sleep and the breathing tube becomes narrower. Snoring and respiratory arrest during sleep is the lot of obese men. In women, breathing does not stop due to their hormones, however, after menopause, women “catch up” with an increase in weight.
Snoring can also be due to ENT problems, such as curvature of the nasal septum, adenoids, inflammation.Then the person breathes through his mouth, the uvula begins to vibrate.
– If snoring with apnea means respiratory arrest, then you need a special CPAP therapy device, and if without breathing stops, then surgical treatment or special gymnastics is suitable. As for snoring in obese people, weight loss will help here, – summarizes Grigory Vladimirovich.
What kind of relaxation exercises you need to do before bed, a fitness expert told us.