Did you know that melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycles, may play a role in reducing or exacerbating night sweats? Night sweats are a common health issue that affects millions of people—disrupting sleep and causing discomfort. In this article, we will explore the complex relationship between melatonin and night sweats, including how melatonin levels can impact the severity and frequency of this sleep disturbance.
Melatonin, commonly known as the ‘sleep hormone,’ plays a crucial role in our sleep-wake cycle. It is naturally produced by the pineal gland in our brain in response to darkness, signaling the body that it’s time to sleep. Imbalances in melatonin can lead to various health issues, including insomnia, mood disorders, and even night sweats.
Table of Contents
I. Background Information
Night sweats refer to excessive sweating during sleep, typically unrelated to high room temperatures or heavy blankets. These episodes can disrupt sleep patterns and negatively impact an individual’s overall well-being.
Night sweats affect an estimated 3% of the general population, with higher rates among menopausal women or individuals with certain medical conditions. Understanding the prevalence of night sweats can help spread awareness about this issue and encourage individuals to seek appropriate treatments.
C. Causes of Melatonin Imbalance
Melatonin production is affected by a wide array of factors. Here are some of the most common causes of melatonin imbalance:
1. Light Exposure at Night
One of the most significant factors affecting melatonin production is light exposure, particularly at night. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness and suppressed by light. Therefore, exposure to bright light in the evenings, such as from electronic devices or overhead lights, can disrupt your body’s natural melatonin production.
2. Irregular Sleep Schedule
A regular sleep schedule is crucial for maintaining a balanced melatonin production. An inconsistent sleep schedule, such as going to bed and waking up at different times each day, can confuse your body’s internal clock, leading to an imbalance in melatonin levels.
As we age, our bodies naturally produce less melatonin. This decrease in melatonin production can lead to difficulty sleeping and other related issues.
4. Certain Medications
Some medications can also disrupt melatonin production. These include certain antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and even some non-prescription drugs like ibuprofen.
D. Symptoms of Melatonin Imbalance
1. Low Melatonin Levels
Low melatonin levels, or hypomelatoninemia, can lead to sleep disturbances and fatigue, negatively affecting overall well-being. Common symptoms associated with a lack of melatonin include difficulty falling asleep and early awakening. The resulting unrefreshing sleep can contribute to susceptibility to diseases, concentration issues, poor memory, and mood swings. Individuals with lower-than-normal peak nighttime melatonin levels or lower-than-normal total production levels of melatonin are considered to have hypomelatoninemia. This condition is more prevalent in older people as melatonin production naturally decreases with age. However, due to modern lifestyle and external factors, many individuals often suffer from a lack of melatonin. Influencing factors might include prolonged phases of daylight in summer, long phases of artificial light due to electric lights, computers, and TVs, a lack of serotonin, and the intake of certain medications like beta blockers1.
2. High Melatonin Levels
High melatonin levels can also result in sleep disturbances and fatigue. Elevated melatonin levels can make waking up in the morning difficult, and individuals may feel lethargic and tired throughout the day. This condition is especially common in the colder and darker months of autumn and winter when melatonin production is increased, potentially leading to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Factors that can cause high melatonin levels include long phases of darkness in winter, liver dysfunction, high intake of vitamins B3 or B6, and the intake of tryptophan or certain antidepressants2.
E. Health Implications of Melatonin Imbalance
1. Sleep Disorders
Low melatonin levels can cause sleep disorders that not only disrupt the quality of sleep but also contribute to the development of several health conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer, and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes3.
2. Night Sweats
An imbalance in melatonin levels can also contribute to night sweats. For instance, excessive melatonin use has been reported to cause night sweats among users, especially those who are female, 60+ years old, and have been taking the supplement for 1 – 2 years4.
F. Melatonin Supplementation
Melatonin is currently used exogenously in the treatment of primary and secondary sleep disorders. There is empirical evidence of its efficacy, although there are still few randomised, controlled studies. In a meta-analysis, exogenous melatonin use was shown to be most effective in reducing sleep onset latency in primary insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and regulating the sleep-wake patterns in blind patients compared with placebo. The development of large-scale, randomised, controlled trials is recommended to provide further evidence for the therapeutic use of melatonin in a variety of sleep difficulties5.
II. Melatonin and Night Sweats
Melatonin is a natural hormone primarily produced by the pineal gland in the brain, playing a crucial role in managing our sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythm. Our bodies secrete the highest levels of melatonin during the night and minimal amounts during the day. Melatonin release is influenced by light and darkness, with the highest levels released during darkness and decreased production when exposed to light. This hormone has often been referred to as a “sleep hormone,” and while it’s not essential for sleep, we tend to sleep better when our melatonin levels are high6.
Concerning melatonin and night sweats, there is some evidence from a phase IV clinical study that night sweats are found among people who take melatonin, especially in females who are 60+ years old and have been taking melatonin for 1-2 years. However, this information is based on reported side effects and should be interpreted with caution7.
In terms of the efficacy of melatonin in treating sleep disorders, a meta-analysis showed that the most convincing evidence for exogenous (externally supplied) melatonin use was in reducing sleep onset latency in primary insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and regulating the sleep-wake patterns in blind patients compared with placebo. However, more large-scale, randomized, controlled trials are recommended to provide further evidence for the therapeutic use of melatonin in a variety of sleep difficulties8.
Unfortunately, there are no specific studies that directly link melatonin supplementation to the alleviation of night sweats in perimenopausal and menopausal women. This may require further research and potentially consulting with healthcare professionals. As always, when experiencing persistent sleep issues or night sweats, it is important to seek medical advice to understand the underlying causes and get appropriate treatment.
III. Frequently Asked Questions
Can Too Much Melatonin Cause Night Sweats?
There seems to be a common belief that taking melatonin can cause night sweats, but the scientific evidence is not conclusive. According to a phase IV clinical study, night sweats were found especially among people who are female, 60+ old, and have been taking the drug for 1 – 2 years. However, these findings are based on reports of people who have side effects when taking Melatonin, and not necessarily a direct cause and effect relationship9.
Can Melatonin Help Reduce Night Sweats?
The role of melatonin in reducing night sweats is not entirely clear. There are indications that melatonin could potentially help with primary insomnia, which in turn might indirectly help with night sweats. A meta-analysis showed that exogenous melatonin use was beneficial in reducing sleep onset latency in primary insomnia and regulating sleep-wake patterns in blind patients compared to placebo.10.
Can Lack of Melatonin Cause Night Sweats?
Hypomelatoninemia, a condition characterized by lower-than-normal peak nighttime melatonin levels or lower-than-normal total production levels of melatonin, can lead to sleep disorders that might contribute to night sweats indirectly. These sleep disorders can cause a lack of sleep and disrupt the quality of the sleep you get, which can contribute to several health conditions like high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and an increased risk of certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes11.
In summary, night sweats can disrupt sleep and overall well-being. Melatonin imbalance, influenced by factors like light exposure and irregular sleep schedules, can contribute to this issue. Low melatonin levels may lead to sleep disorders and health implications such as high blood pressure and increased cancer risk. Melatonin supplementation has shown effectiveness in treating sleep disorders, but its direct impact on night sweats requires further research. Seeking medical advice is crucial for addressing persistent sleep issues and night sweats appropriately.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your treatment plan, diet, or lifestyle. StopTheNightSweats.com is not responsible for any actions taken as a result of the information provided in this article.