Melatonin and Dopamine: Does Melatonin Lower Dopamine?

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

does melatonin lower dopamine

The interaction between melatonin and dopamine is amongst the most widely studied. One click and you will get several publications and medical literature about these two.

Dopamine is thought to be involved in just about every aspect of our cognitive life. Melatonin is associated with sleep, but also has been implicated in everything from seasonal affective disorder and depression to eating disorders, schizophrenia, and more.

But does melatonin lower dopamine? Why should melatonin and dopamine together be the key to getting good sleep and mental well-being?

Managing Your Sleep With Melatonin

If you’re like a lot of people, your sleep schedule is pretty erratic. You might go to bed at 2am and wake up at 5am, or you might only get 6 hours of sleep on weekdays and then try to catch up on the weekends. This inconsistent sleep schedule is also a common scenario as we age.

But there’s a reason why we need regular, sufficient sleep: It has a huge impact on our health and well-being. And one key factor in getting good sleep is melatonin — also known as the “sleep hormone” because it helps regulate our circadian rhythms, or our body’s internal clock.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It’s released when light hits your retina, signaling to your body that it’s time to sleep.

That’s why many people take melatonin supplements—to help bring their circadian rhythms into sync with their actual schedules instead of living on an artificial clock.

In addition to its role in regulating your sleeping schedule, melatonin also plays a role in mood regulation, sexual desire/functioning, fertility, learning/memory retention and other cognitive processes related to mental health.

The Relationship Between Melatonin, Dopamine, and Sleep

As qualified earlier, melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and released in response to darkness. It’s highest during the night and lowest during the day.

Melatonin levels are controlled by your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock that regulates many activities in your body such as sleep and wake cycles, digestion, and hormone secretion.

woman getting her beauty sleep

Dopamine is both a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a role in sleep regulation as well. It’s part of what helps us feel pleasure, which makes us want to do things that make us happy.

Dopamine also has an effect on how long we stay asleep. When we’re awake, our dopamine levels are higher than when we’re asleep.

But what about dopamine vs serotonin? These two should not be confused. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm, happy and relaxed.

Serotonin is another hormone responsible for helping you sleep. Dopamine, on the other hand, is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our feelings of pleasure and reward. It’s also associated with feelings of happiness, motivation and focus.

The following sections will explore how melatonin and dopamine interact with one another to regulate sleep patterns throughout the day-night cycle.

How Does Melatonin Affect Dopamine?

Since melatonin can help regulate our circadian rhythm or the body’s 24-hour cycle, it has an effect on dopamine production, as well.

The two are related because both are involved in our sleeping patterns: melatonin helps us fall asleep and stay asleep; dopamine helps us feel awake during the day.

Melatonin helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. On the other hand, dopamine helps improve your mood, focus on tasks at hand, and reduces anxiety levels.

Dopamine levels increase during the day when sunlight hits your retina cells in your eyes—which signals to your body that it’s time to wake up.

Melatonin levels decrease as we age because our bodies produce less melatonin over time. However, melatonin supplements can be taken to help with sleep issues–and they may even help improve memory function as well.

How Does Melatonin Work in the Brain?

Melatonin plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm (your internal sleep-wake cycle) through the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a group of neurons in the hypothalamus that receives light information from the retina, and sends signals to other parts of your brain and body to control your sleep-wake cycle.

How Long Does It Take for Melatonin to Work?

How long does it take for melatonin to work? Melatonin is produced by our body naturally, but if you’re taking supplements, the length of effect depends on the type of melatonin you use.

taking melatonin pills

You can get it in pill form or spray form, and each has its own absorption rate. For example, if you’re taking melatonin in pill form, it may take 30 to 60 minutes for the melatonin to start working.

Melatonin Recommended Dosage

As a general rule, the recommended dosage of melatonin is 1 to 10 mg per day. Since melatonin is a hormone and not a drug, it doesn’t have an FDA-established maximum dose.

However, if you have been prescribed melatonin by your doctor for specific reasons, follow their instructions.

In order to increase the effectiveness of melatonin and avoid any undesired side effects associated with higher dosages (e.g., drowsiness), experts recommend consumers take their supplements before going to bed at night or during periods of darkness when sunlight is absent in order for the body’s natural circadian rhythm—which regulates sleep cycles—to be more easily reset.

What Happens if You Take Too Much Melatonin?

What happens if you take too much melatonin? Melatonin is generally considered safe for most people when taken as directed.

However, taking too much melatonin can cause side effects like headaches, nausea, and dizziness. A melatonin overdose can also affect other hormones in your body like dopamine—which can lead to serious health issues such as heart problems or low blood pressure.

Low Dopamine Symptoms

If you’re being deficient in dopamine, you may experience the following low dopamine symptoms:

1. Depression or Anxiety

When you’re depressed or anxious, it can feel like your brain is not functioning properly. There may be days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed at all because the world around you feels so bleak and hopeless. 

staring in blank

This feeling of hopelessness is often caused by low dopamine levels in your brain’s reward center (nucleus accumbens). 

Depression and anxiety are both symptoms of low dopamine levels in this area of your brain—and they’re also symptoms of insomnia.

It’s important to note that melatonin does not treat depression or anxiety directly. It works to promote healthy sleep patterns and boost the production of serotonin, a neurochemical that promotes feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

2. Lack of Motivation

If you’re feeling a little sluggish, unmotivated, or just kind of lost in your day-to-day life, it could be because your dopamine levels are low. 

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that helps to shape and guide your motivation—and it’s essential to keeping you focused on small goals and achieving them.

But what if you find yourself losing interest in things that used to keep you going? Or what if you’re just not as interested in things anymore? That could be a sign that your dopamine is at low levels.

3. Poor Decision Making

Dopamine is also critical in regulating our ability to make decisions. When you have low dopamine levels, you’re more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety and have trouble thinking clearly. Low dopamine also makes it harder for us to remember things and stay motivated about our goals.

4. Memory Loss

When we’re experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, our brains release more dopamine than usual. This can help us remember things in the moment—but it can also cause problems later on down the road.

When we’re stressed out or anxious, our brains will keep releasing dopamine until we calm down. It’s like when you’re driving and suddenly realize that there’s traffic ahead: Your body releases cortisol (another hormone) to help keep alertness going until the situation resolves itself.

sad old woman

If this happens too often or too intensely, though, then cortisol levels stay elevated beyond what they should be—and that means there’s more dopamine floating around in your brain than normal.

5. Decreased Libido and Sexual Dysfunction

You may not know it, but your hormones affect everything from your energy levels to your sex drive. And there are two that often go hand in hand: melatonin and dopamine.

If you’re experiencing decreased libido and sexual dysfunction, it could be due to low levels of either one of these hormones.

6. Gut Problems Like Constipation, Gas and Bloating

A recent study found that people with lower dopamine levels tend to have digestive problems, including constipation and bloating.

That makes sense: low dopamine levels are linked to depression and anxiety, which can cause stress-induced constipation.

What Can Lower Dopamine Levels?

One of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain is dopamine. It’s involved in a wide variety of cognitive functions, including motor control, memory, and reward processing. But what can lower dopamine levels?

One way that dopamine levels can be lowered is through sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that when you don’t get enough sleep, your body has a tendency to produce less dopamine than usual. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Another factor that may affect your dopamine levels is exercise. It’s normal for your body to produce more dopamine when you exercise regularly.

However, if you exercise too much or too intensely, such as with an intense boot camp class, it can actually lead to lower levels of this neurotransmitter being released into your system over time.

Finally, low levels of light exposure during the day can also lead to decreased production of this important chemical in your brain—so make sure you’re getting plenty of sunlight every day.

Melatonin Side Effects

Melatonin side effects are rare, but may include:

1. Drowsiness

Drowsiness is a sign of melatonin side effect that can affect people in different ways depending on their age and health status.

sleepy man

While some people experience drowsiness immediately after taking melatonin, others may feel sleepy hours later or even the next day.

In rare cases, individuals may experience severe drowsiness that causes them to fall asleep at inappropriate times like while driving or operating machinery.

2. Headaches

If you have headaches when taking melatonin supplements, talk to your doctor about switching medications or adjusting the dosage.

3. Dizziness

Dizziness can be caused by many things, but one common cause is low blood pressure—and melatonin can cause this kind of low blood pressure. When you take melatonin in pill form, it increases your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, especially if you have high blood pressure, to begin with.

This means that if you take melatonin pills at night before bedtime, it may make you feel more tired than usual because it makes it more difficult for your body to pump enough blood around itself during sleep.

4. Nausea or Vomiting

Melatonin has a number of side effects, including nausea and vomiting. This can be more common in children, but anyone taking melatonin supplements should be aware that it can cause these symptoms.

5. Changes in Appetite and Weight Gain

When you take melatonin, your body produces more of the hormone leptin, which tells your brain to stop eating.

But when you take too much melatonin, the increase in dopamine can counteract the effect of leptin and make it harder for your brain to register satiety signals.

cravings

This means that even if you’re full, your body still thinks it needs more food, so it keeps eating. And if you eat more than usual while taking melatonin, the extra food calories can add up over time.

6. Insomnia 

Insomnia or altered sleeping patterns, including nightmares. Melatonin is a hormone that can help you sleep, but it also affects dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control movement and emotional responses, among other things. When someone takes too much melatonin, their dopamine levels can decrease, which can lead to symptoms such as insomnia or altered sleeping patterns including nightmares.

7. Depression

When you take melatonin supplements, you’re affecting your body’s natural production of this hormone.

You may be able to make up the difference by taking more of it than is recommended on the bottle, but this can lead to other problems. Depression is caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain—including dopamine—and melatonin disrupts this balance.

8. Anxiety and Irritability

Anxiety and irritability which may be related to mood swings. When you take melatonin supplements, you are trying to get more melatonin than your body naturally produces.

But this can lead to side effects. While melatonin can also help regulate your moods, if you take too much of it, you might experience anxiety or irritability, making you more prone to mood swings.

Should You Be Concerned About Melatonin and Dopamine?

NO, only when they are not balanced. Melatonin and dopamine are two naturally occurring hormones in the body. They both serve important roles, but their functions can sometimes overlap.

drink before bed

The connection between melatonin and dopamine comes from the fact that they’re both produced by your body at different times of day: melatonin levels rise during sleep while dopamine levels increase when you’re awake.

When these hormones are out of balance, you may experience disrupted sleep patterns or other symptoms like depression or anxiety.

Does Melatonin Decrease Dopamine?

YES. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It is secreted by the pineal gland in your brain when it gets dark, which helps you fall asleep at night and stay asleep.

When you have too much melatonin in your system — from taking supplements or from staying up late — it can decrease dopamine levels, which leads to feelings of drowsiness and fatigue.

Does Melatonin Block Dopamine?

On one hand, yes: Melatonin reduces your dopamine levels as soon as it’s secreted at night.

But on the other hand no: That reduction happens only if you’re exposed to light during the day or night because it suppresses melatonin production in your pineal gland and reduces its ability to produce melatonin later on when it should be doing so naturally anyway.

Does Melatonin Lower Your Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood and feelings of well-being. It also plays a role in controlling sleep and wake cycles.

When you sleep, your melatonin levels rise and fall according to a set pattern each night—this is known as your circadian rhythm.

At nightfall, serotonin production slows down and melatonin production increases; this happens until about 4-5 hours later when it begins to decline again as sunlight breaks through the morning haze.

So what does this mean for you? If you’re taking melatonin supplements, they may lower your serotonin levels because they interfere with your body’s natural process of making it during the night while you’re sleeping—and that can cause problems with mood regulation.

Conclusion

If you want to get a good night’s sleep, it helps to understand the serious correlation between melatonin and dopamine, and the positive effects they have on human body chemistry.

These natural chemicals will help you achieve better sleep, which will help you achieve a better life.

Serenity is a natural sleep and mood-enhancing supplement that promotes the production of brain chemicals which promote restful sleep, helping you get more time for yourself, and being more focused 8 hours later.

With this supplement, your body will naturally produce growth hormone and melatonin. With thousands of reviews from satisfied users, one thing left for you is to try it – it works!

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