Could Your Nighttime Melatonin Make Your Birth Control Less Effective?

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall wellness, boosting everything from heart health to happiness levels. In order to catch those ZZZs, though, the body needs to produce melatonin. According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin is a hormone that signals to the brain when it's time to hit the sack. The body produces melatonin late in the day after it gets dark – that's why, as Sleep Foundation points out, looking at bright screens at night can seriously disrupt your sleep.

For some people, the melatonin produced naturally in the body might not be enough. Up to half of adults experience insomnia symptoms at least occasionally, the Cleveland Clinic reports. And in these instances, melatonin supplements can be a godsend. But before popping a nighttime melatonin tablet, there are some important side effects to keep in mind. Medical News Today lists several potential side effects of over-the-counter melatonin, including dizziness, headaches, stomach pain, tremors, and irritability. Additionally, some warn that melatonin could have an unwanted effect on birth control pills.

Melatonin could interfere with birth control pills

If you take melatonin and birth control before drifting off to sleep each night, now might be a good time to stop. When combined, these two may work differently than intended. First, research published in Sleep Science shows that the hormones found in birth control pills may promote sleep, similar to melatonin. Oral contraceptives have also been found to increase the concentration of melatonin in the body in a previous study in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Therefore, taking both melatonin and birth control at the same time could increase the potency of melatonin. This may be a win for those battling sleep disorders, but it could also cause daytime drowsiness.

A bigger concern for many people is whether melatonin could make birth control less effective. But is there any truth to this? One study published in the journal Antioxidants (Basel) suggests that there could be a link between melatonin and fertility, so those trying to prevent pregnancy may want to avoid taking melatonin supplements. However, the Sleep Foundation explains that more research is still needed to conclude exactly how these hormones interact.

Alternatives to melatonin supplements

There are a few ways to ensure your sleep care doesn't interfere with your birth control. Firstly, if you're taking hormonal contraceptives to avoid getting pregnant, consider ditching the melatonin supplements, and instead, work to boost your body's natural melatonin production. That way, it's less likely that you'll accidentally overdose on melatonin, per Healthline.

Nutritionist Josh Axe also recommended alternative supplements to CNET, including adaptogenic herbs, magnesium, and CBD. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips anyone can try ASAP: stick to a bedtime, turn the lights down, keep devices out of the bedroom, limit caffeine and alcohol, and exercise during the day. If your thoughts are getting in the way of a good night's rest, a relaxation routine involving journaling, yoga, or meditation may also help. And when in doubt, talk to your doctor about which sleep aids could interfere with your birth control. They can help you find safe options that work for you and your body. Your doctor may also help you get to the bottom of what's keeping you up at night.