During pregnancy, a woman often has a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it is so bad that she has to seek medical attention. Some think that it is caused by a disruption of melatonin production, a hormone released by the body that controls sleep and wake cycles.  Since melatonin is naturally produced by the body, it is often taken as a dietary supplement to help with sleeping disorders. However, since the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor the supplement’s production, it is often questioned if it is safe for a woman to take melatonin while pregnant.

Is It Safe to Take Melatonin While Pregnant?

Under the guidance of a physician and at a low dose, it is considered safe to take a melatonin supplement during pregnancy. The recommended daily dose is at 3 mg or less. It is important to look for product that is made in the U.S. and rated as high quality. If a pregnant woman takes melatonin at a higher dosage, she increases her unborn child’s chances of suffering from a developmental disorder. Melatonin has also been found in breast milk, so it is important to avoid taking it when breastfeeding.

If a woman suffers from certain medical conditions, she may not be able to take melatonin while pregnant. These conditions include, but are not limited to, depression, epilepsy, diabetes, low blood pressure, high blood pressure or hemophilia. Certain medications can interact with the supplement, especially ones used to prevent rejection of an organ transplant.

Side Effects and Interactions of Melatonin

Although melatonin is typically considered safe, it is still possible for a person to suffer from side effects when taking the supplement.

1. General Side Effects

Reactions to look out for include aggression, mood changes, agitation, abnormal heartbeat, feeling extremely hot or cold, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, delusions, bad dreams, rash, nausea, accelerated heart rate, itching, appetite changes, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and glaucoma. These are only a few of the possible risks a person may encounter, so it is vital to discuss the pros and cons of taking melatonin with a doctor.

2. Affecting Blood Pressure and Sugar Levels

There are several other things to consider when taking melatonin. It can affect a person’s blood pressure and sugar levels. Therefore, it is advised to have regular screenings when a woman takes melatonin while pregnant. Moreover, it can increase an individual’s risk of clotting, counteract with stimulants, sedatives or depressants and cause a person to become very drowsy. 

3. Changing Hormone

Since a pregnant woman experiences several hormone changes during her pregnancy, she needs to have her hormone levels monitored if she takes melatonin. If she suffer from changes in eyesight, hot flashes, acne, pregnancy mask, stomach ailments and bladder problems, it is important to determine if the ailments are caused by her pregnancy or melatonin supplements.

Other Ways to Relieve Insomnia While Pregnant

Even though a woman might consider taking melatonin while pregnant, it is important for her to know there are other things she can try to relieve her insomnia.

1. Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine

Just as a mother creates a soothing environment for her new baby, she can create a relaxing bedtime routine for herself. She can try taking a warm bath, listening to calm music, drinking a cup of chamomile tea or reading a relaxing book before bed. She may also try to wear an eye mask to keep out unwanted light or ear plugs to block out background noise.

2. Sleep on One Side

It is often uncomfortable for a pregnant woman to sleep on her back or stomach. It is recommended that she sleeps on her side while hugging a pillow with her knees. Some women find sleeping in an elevated position helps ease pregnancy ailments like heartburn or indigestion.

3. Try Some Natural Supplements

Pregnant women can take other natural supplements to help alleviate their sleeping problems.  Healthy alternatives include maca, tart cherry extract and ashwagandha. As with any supplement or vitamin, a woman should always consult her doctor before adding these into her diet.

4. Be Patient

Sometimes a pregnant woman worries that her lack of sleep may hurt her unborn child. She needs to remember that it is common for women to experience restless sleep while pregnant. Don’t put undue stress by worrying about it too much. With time it will eventually pass. Until then, add time for napping in the schedule.

5. Try Massage

Massage therapy has long been considered an alternative form of medicine and is often incorporated in a person’s wellness program. It is important to find a massage therapist that specializes in working with pregnant women. Except for a professional massage, she can ask her partner to give a hand, foot or neck massage at the end of the day to help relax.

6.  Breathe Deeply

Breathing exercises can often assist a pregnant woman in relaxing and falling asleep. Simply lie down on the back with arms and legs extended. Ideally, take a long, deep breath through the nose. Hold it for a few seconds and then slowly exhale through the nose. Repeat a few times until the tension subsides.

7. Guided Imagery

Sometimes a pregnant woman cannot sleep because she is too anxious about her pregnancy and becoming a new mother. She cannot clear her mind of the thoughts racing around, making it unable for her to fall asleep. Guided imagery is a technique that can clear her mind so that she can drift peacefully off to sleep. The idea is to picture herself in a relaxing environment like a park or on the beach. Imagine lying on a blanket or towel, closing the eyes and listening to the birds chirping or the waves splashing. Think about how soft the grass or sand feels.  As her mind wanders, her body may ease into sleep.