Melatonin is a hormone that helps promote sleep. Melatonin plays an important part in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. The brain’s pineal gland releases melatonin according to light and darkness cues. The pineal gland secretes extra melatonin at night and less during the day. Melatonin is available as a supplement. Some people take melatonin supplements to help sleep better, including pregnant women.
Pregnant women may take melatonin for several reasons. The first reason is that pregnant women are at a higher risk for sleep disorders and may need help to get adequate rest. A second reason is that research suggests that higher melatonin levels could improve fertility and fetal development. The good news is that melatonin is considered safe, but pregnant women are still encouraged to speak with their doctor before taking any. If you plan to use melatonin during your pregnancy, it’s important to know how to consume it safely and what amount is appropriate.
What are the Uses of Melatonin During Pregnancy?
Melatonin can be used during pregnancy to help the expectant mother sleep better. Pregnant women are more prone to sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder. These sleep disorders can affect how much quality sleep the woman gets. Melatonin is often used as a supplement to improve sleep because it's a hormone that fosters tiredness. The body naturally produces more melatonin at night, but as we age, the amount of melatonin decreases. Adding extra melatonin through supplements may help encourage tiredness in order to get enough rest.
Women may take melatonin during their pregnancy to support fetal development and reduce their risk of problems associated with pregnancy. According to scientific experts, the embryo and fetus are dependent on melatonin provided by the mother. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health states that evidence suggests melatonin protects the brain and is important for training the baby’s circadian rhythms. Some older mothers will have lower melatonin levels because of their age, but supplements could help.
What are the Potential Benefits of Melatonin During Pregnancy?
Taking melatonin during pregnancy may provide significant benefits. The benefits of melatonin during pregnancy are listed below.
- Better Sleep Quality: Melatonin could help improve sleep quality in expectant moms. Pregnant women have an increased chance of developing sleep disorders. Melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone that fosters sleepiness. Some people who have difficulty sleeping take melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep easier. Therefore, pregnant women experiencing poor rest could benefit from melatonin supplements.
- Supports Fetal Development: Experts say that the fetus and embryo are dependent on maternal melatonin, and research suggests melatonin protects the brain and train’s the developing baby’s circadian rhythms. However, if the mother’s melatonin levels are lower, it could affect this development. Therefore, taking melatonin supplements may help.
- Healthier Pregnancy: Melatonin may encourage a healthier pregnancy. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health reports that animal studies show that melatonin lowers oxidative stress and the risk of pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR).
- Improved Fertility: Melatonin may improve fertility for women trying to become pregnant. Some research suggests melatonin has a positive impact on fertilization rates. This is because melatonin is an antioxidant and may reduce oxidative damage. Less oxidative damage can improve the quality of the woman’s eggs and lead to higher pregnancy rates.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Melatonin During Pregnancy?
The potential side effects of melatonin during pregnancy are not fully known. Research on the topic is limited, so it’s not clear if there are negative side effects. Some doctors may recommend melatonin for pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant, which means it may be on a case-by-case basis. The best method is to consult with your primary care physician to determine if it's safe for you to take.
What are the Alternatives to Melatonin During Pregnancy?
The alternatives to melatonin will depend on the reason for needing them. The alternatives to melatonin during pregnancy include medicines and lifestyle habits. Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine are antihistamines that are safely prescribed to pregnant women. These medications are used to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms, cold symptoms, and itchy skin. They can also produce drowsiness, which may foster better rest.
Another alternative to melatonin during pregnancy is to implement healthy lifestyle habits. Practicing good habits can promote quality rest, thus improving the mother’s health and well-being. When the mother is healthy and well, this may improve the baby’s health. Leading a healthy lifestyle could also boost fertility in those looking to get pregnant.
What are Other Sleep Tips to Use Instead of Melatonin?
Other sleep tips to use instead of melatonin comprise healthy lifestyle habits. The good news is that anyone can practice these sleeping tips. Sleep tips other than using melatonin are listed below.
- Exercise: Regular exercise helps enhance sleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep, exercise in the morning or afternoon because working out too late could give you more energy before bed.
- Consistent Sleep Schedule: Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is valuable because it keeps the body’s sleep-wake cycle on track. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day will train your body to feel tired when it’s time for bed. You’ll also have a better shot of getting enough hours of shuteye by maintaining a schedule that allows for it.
- Set Your Bedroom: Experts say the ideal sleep space is cool, dark, and quiet. With these suggestions in mind, ensure your bedroom meets these standards. Another thing to consider is your mattress. If your bed isn’t comfortable, this could hinder your rest, so find one that delivers optimal comfort and support.
- Don’t Eat Too Late: Eating a large meal late at night could trigger uncomfortable digestive issues that keep you up at night. If you feel hungry, rather than indulging in a heavy meal, opt for a light snack that will curb your hunger but not leave you too full.
- Avoid Electronics Before Bed: Avoid looking at your screen devices an hour before bed. Devices like cell phones, televisions, tablets, and computers emit a blue light that suppresses melatonin production, leaving you more alert.
How to Take Melatonin Supplements During Pregnancy
The best way to take melatonin supplements during pregnancy is to consult your primary doctor. Your physician will decide whether it’s appropriate or safe for you to take melatonin. The doctor will also let you know how much you should take and when.
How Much Melatonin is Safe During Pregnancy?
The amount of melatonin that’s safe during pregnancy should be determined by your doctor. Melatonin doses can range from 1 to 10 milligrams, and many experts advise starting with smaller doses. Women have more melatonin while pregnant, so consulting with a doctor will help prevent consuming too much.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.
She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.