Melatonin is one of the most famous over the counter supplements for people who you have trouble sleeping — and as so many otherstried it out in an attempt to rest better at night.

However, the few times I have taken any amount of the supplement I have felt dizzy 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: yes feel more rested during the day. So, I decided that melatonin was not the best sleep aid for me.

It turns out I’m not alone.

below, Josh Axe, clinical nutritionist and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, shares the best alternatives to melatonin if you decide it’s not for you. Plus, he explains why melatonin can make you feel hungover—and how to prevent that effect if you decide to keep taking it. (For better sleep, see our list of the best mattresseson the best pillows and on the best alarm clocks of the year.)

Melatonin takes about an hour to take effect and lasts about five hours, according to Josh Axe.

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3 Sleep Supplements to Try Instead of Melatonin

If you have a similar reaction to melatonin, how do you find a natural sleep aid that doesn’t make you feel dizzy? Ax recommends the following sleep supplements the next time you want help catching a Z.

  • Adaptogenic Herbs: “Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and kava help your body deal with stress and support your nervous system. They can also reduce the release of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can disrupt sleep,” Ax says.
  • Magnesium: “Magnesium is an electrolyte mineral that can have a calming effect and can reduce muscle tension and headaches,” he says.
  • CBD or CBN: “CBD oil, produced from the hemp plant, is not psychoactive, but it has a calming and pain-relieving effect,” Ax says. CBN is a type of cannabinoid which is used in more sleep supplements because it is the most sedating compound found in cannabis, according to Sandland Sleep.

Why does melatonin make me feel hungover?

Melatonin is a hormone which is produced naturally in the body and helps you know 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 considered safer to use than other sleep medications and is less likely to cause side effects such as daytime sleepiness the next day.” That being said, taking too much too late at night or in the middle of the night can cause its effects to linger into the next day,” Ax says. “Sustained-release melatonin pills can also stay in someone’s system and in some cases cause side effects.”

Although melatonin is different from sleep medications and is considered generally safe, some people simply may not be able to tolerate it well. “For reasons related to people’s metabolism and possibly genetics, some may be more susceptible to melatonin side effects, such as nausea or low energy,” Ax says.

How to prevent hangovers with melatonin (besides not taking it)

If you get side effects like sleepiness the next day when you take melatonin, does that mean you should never take it? According to Ax, you might try a few fixes first. For starters, he says to avoid taking it in the middle of the night. “Once you take melatonin, it starts working within about an hour and lasts 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 energized,” he explains.

“Try taking a low dose to start with, taking it about 60 minutes before bed, and skip the sustained-release melatonin if that seems to apply to you,” he advises. According to National Sleep Foundationthe low dose is generally considered to be 0.5 mg, and 5 mg is the higher dose.

For those who take melatonin every day, Ax says it doesn’t hurt to take a break every now and then. “It’s usually meant to be taken for short periods of time, like a few weeks or months, but not continuously forever (unless you’re working with a doctor),” says Axe.

“That being said, it’s not known to be addictive, so taking it for longer may not be a problem unless you experience side effects,” he says.

Sleep better

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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