Melatonin can make you feel hungover. These supplements can help you sleep better and feel refreshed in the morning.
Of all the over-the-counter sleep aids out there, melatonin supplements are the most popular. Like so many others, I've tried out melatonin in an effort to get better rest at night, but the end result wasn't what I expected.
The few times I've taken any amount of the supplement, I've felt groggy and "hungover" for hours the next morning. My body's negative reaction to melatonin seems to defeat the purpose of taking it in the first place: to feel more rested during the day. I decided melatonin's not the best sleep aid for me.
Here are top alternative sleep supplements to try instead.
Below, Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, shares the best alternatives to melatonin if you decide it's not for you. Plus, he breaks down why melatonin can make you feel hungover -- and how to prevent that effect if you choose to keep taking it. (For better sleep, also check out our rundown of the best mattresses, the best pillows and the best alarm clocks of the year.)
Read more: 3 Sleep Hacks to Fall Asleep in 10 Minutes or Less
If you have a similar reaction to melatonin, how do you find a natural sleep aid that doesn't make you feel groggy? Axe recommends the following sleep supplements next time you want help catching Z's.
Melatonin is a hormone that's produced naturally in the body, and it helps tell you when to sleep and when to wake up. Taking melatonin is thought to improve sleep because it can help your body produce more of the hormone.
"Melatonin is generally thought to be safer to use than other sleep medications and less likely to cause side effects such as daytime grogginess the next day. That being said, taking too much and taking it too late at night or in the middle of the night might cause its effects to linger into the next day," says Axe. "Continuous release melatonin tablets might also linger in someone's system and lead to side effects in some cases."
Even though melatonin is different from sleep medications and considered generally safe, some people simply may not be able to tolerate it well. "For reasons related to people's metabolisms and possibly genetics, some might be more prone to experiencing side effects from melatonin, such as nausea or low energy," says Axe.
Nature Made is one of the best-known supplement brands out there. This melatonin supplement contains 5 mg of melatonin and 80 mg of calcium. One bottle will help you sleep for 90 days.
If you experience side effects like next-day drowsiness when you take melatonin, does that mean you should never take it? According to Axe, you might be able to try a few adjustments first. To start, he says to avoid taking it in the middle of the night. "After you take melatonin it starts working within about an hour and lasts for about 5 hours in your body, so taking it in the middle of the night isn't the best idea if you want to wake up with energy," he explains.
"Try taking a low dose to start, taking it about 60 minutes before sleep and skipping continuous release melatonin if this seems to apply to you," he advises. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a low dose is generally considered 0.5 mg and 5mg is on the higher side.
For those who do take melatonin daily, Axe says it doesn't hurt to take a break from it every now and then. "It's typically intended to be taken for short periods of time, such as several weeks or months, but not continuously forever (unless you're working with a doctor)," says Axe.
"That being said, it isn't known to cause dependency, so taking it for longer may not be a problem unless you experience side effects," he says.