Does Melatonin Cause Weight Gain?
Millions of Americans have difficulty falling or staying asleep. According to at least one study, as many as 30% of all adults in the U.S. sleep less than 6 hours per night. With so many people having trouble with sleep, it is little wonder that the supplement melatonin has become popular.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by our bodies. Low levels of melatonin can make it hard to fall asleep, which often translates to weight gain. Getting a better night of sleep using melatonin or another supplement may actually help you lose weight – and won’t cause weight gain.
If you have struggled with your weight, Ideal You may be able to help. With our weight loss program, you’ll be given a structured food list, a food diary, food-based supplements, and access to a team of weight loss coaches. We’ll help you lose a life-changing amount of weight quickly and sustainably by addressing all of the complex factors that can make it difficult to drop pounds.
What Is Melatonin?
Our bodies produce the hormone melatonin naturally through the pineal gland in our brains. It is often referred to as the sleep hormone, as high levels of melatonin can help a person fall asleep. Despite this name, melatonin doesn’t have a sedative effect. Instead, it signals the body that it’s nighttime so that you can relax and fall asleep more easily.
Melatonin works with our bodies’ circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal clock that tells us when it is time to sleep, get up, and eat. It also helps to regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and some hormone levels. As it gets dark outside, the levels of melatonin in our bodies start to rise, letting us know that it is time to sleep.
It also binds to receptors in our brains to help relax. Melatonin can reduce levels of dopamine, which is a hormone that helps us stay awake. Together, these processes help us fall asleep. When it becomes light outside, melatonin levels in our bodies drop – letting us know that it is time to wake up.
Some people whose bodies do not produce enough melatonin may have difficulty falling asleep at night. A number of factors may influence melatonin production, including stress, smoking, working swing shifts, aging, exposure to too much light at night, and lack of exposure to natural light during the day. People who have trouble sleeping may choose to take a melatonin supplement to make it easier to fall asleep.
A number of studies have shown that melatonin supplements are effective in helping people fall asleep and having better sleep quality. It may have other benefits, including:
- Supporting eye health
- Treating stomach ulcers and heartburn
- Reducing symptoms of tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Increasing growth hormone levels in men
If you are interested in trying melatonin, be sure to consult with your doctor before adding it to your regime. As with other supplements, you should start with a low dose and see how it affects you before increasing the serving size. It is generally considered safe, and is widely available over-the-counter.
Can Taking Melatonin Make Me Gain Weight?
Melatonin is not associated with weight gain. However, poor sleep is linked with weight gain. According to a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, not getting enough sleep or having inconsistent sleep patterns is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI).
According to a 2014 study, low levels of melatonin are associated with increased appetite and weight gain. The authors of the study found that taking a melatonin supplement helped the participants lose weight.
Another study found that melatonin supplements can help control weight gain, because it stimulates the production of a type of fat that burns calories instead of storing them (beige fat). Scientists found that taking a melatonin supplement over time increases the calorie-burning effects of exercise and exposure to cold, which can help people lose weight. This is due in part to the fact that melatonin supplements trigger the production of “good” fat that burns calories.
The science is still emerging, but to date, the consensus is that melatonin might increase metabolism, boost weight loss efforts, and provide protection for muscle tissue. Taking melatonin supplements has also been found to reduce fat mass and increase lean muscle.
Rather than causing weight gain, melatonin may actually do the opposite: help you lose weight. While the mechanism by which melatonin aids in weight loss is complex, we do know that not sleeping enough can cause weight gain. By addressing that issue through a melatonin supplement, you may be able to stave off weight gain related to lack of sleep.
Bottom line: if you have difficulty falling asleep or getting good sleep, then a melatonin supplement may help you. It may also have the added benefit of increasing your ability to lose weight and reach your weight loss goals.
Take a Holistic Approach to Weight Loss with Ideal You
You may have heard someone say that weight loss is just about “calories in, calories out.” People who say this typically haven’t struggled with their weight – and don’t have a good understanding of how complex our bodies truly are. To lose weight, you don’t just need to count calories – you need to tackle all of the factors that can cause you to hold onto weight, like lack of sleep.
At Ideal You, we know that weight loss isn’t simple for most people. Our goal is to help make it as straightforward as possible. With the Ideal You weight loss program, we’ll provide a research-backed structured food list (with real food), give you all-natural, food-based supplements, and provide you with access to a team of experienced weight loss coaches. Ideal You can help you eliminate whatever is holding you back from losing weight and keeping it off.
We know firsthand just how hard it can be to reach your goal weight – and we are here to help you. If you’re ready to kick off your weight loss journey, give us a call at 888-488-7258 or schedule a free consultation at our Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, or Sterling Heights locations.