How Melatonin Made Me Less Healthy

Photo by: Towfiqu barbhuiya 

If you know a little about my work, you know how passionate I am around sleep and how important good sleep is to me. You might even have read my book SLEEP IT OFF: A Revolutionary Guide to Losing Weight, Beating Diabetes, and Feeling Your Best through Optimal Rest.

You also know that, even though I have been living in the US since 2000, I am originally from France, and as a result, travel abroad quite regularly to visit my relatives.

With age though - I am in my 50s - I have found it more and more difficult to handle the jet lag when I go to Europe. I used to white-knuckle through it, but for the past couple of years, I have opted for more comfort and a better mood, and have decided to take melatonin when I get there and come back.

Would you like to know the effect that melatonin has been having on me? Let me tell you...

For context, I take 5 mg of melatonin every 24 hours for 4 to 5 days when I get to France and do the same when I get home for 2 to 3 days.

Effects of Melatonin On My Body

1/ I sleep longer

I usually go to bed as usual (quite early), but as soon as I wake up (and feel ready for the day at 2 am!), I take one melatonin pill and go back to sleep for 4 or more hours. In the end, I end up with a pretty good night of sleep each night.

2/ I am drowsy when waking up

Nothing too dramatic, but it makes it impossible to work or drive or do anything that requires sharpness of mind right out of bed. That's not a big issue, I just have a slower start than usual.

3/ I don't feel truly rested

Melatonin helps me sleep longer and get to a functioning level during the day, but my sleep is not quite as restorative as usual. I end up needing more sleep to feel good compared to what I would usually need at home. I don't feel quite as energized during the day. Maybe the fatigue from the trip comes into play too, or the fact that I am not as active when I am abroad. Not sure...

4/ I feel less "stressed" about sleep

When I don't take melatonin, even if I am not jet lagged, I have to be very intentional about my daily routine if I want to sleep well at night. 

To me, sleeping well means:

  1. Falling asleep early enough to get at least 8 hours of rest each night,
  2. Going back to sleep right away when I wake up during the night, 
  3. Getting a deep enough sleep that I feel rested and ready to go as soon as the alarms goes off.

With melatonin, I don't have to worry about all that. If I can't fall asleep or if I wake up in the middle of the night, I pop a pill and the problem is solved. And that's actually where it gets a little tricky.

Effects of Melatonin on My behavior

When I take melatonin, I know I will sleep no matter what, so I don’t make efforts during the day to help me sleep well at night. I have a “miracle pill”, I use it as a crutch, and I let go of most of my sleep-promoting habits.

On a daily basis, it means that:

  • I don’t get out of my way to spend several hours outside each day, even though I know perfectly well that being exposed to natural light and fresh air truly helps resetting our biological clock.
  • I happily take the car to go places rather than walk, bike, or run even if I know that moving outdoor will help my body accumulate fatigue and release the stress that could keep me from sleeping at night.
  • I don’t swim, workout, or stretch, because I am not worried that my body will be wired up and unable to stay asleep. 
  • I eat all the creamy sauces and cheese I want for dinner, without fearing the consequences that a hard-working stomach will have on the quality of my sleep.
  • I happily eat delicious chocolate and French pastries throughout the day, because I know that the hot flashes coming from an over-heating body won't wake me up in the middle of the night.

As you can see, taking melatonin helps me sleep well when everybody else is sleeping, and honestly, it provides for a much more enjoyable trip. This is why I have decided to rely on melatonin for jet lag going forward.

But the effects that melatonin has on my health are not insignificant. By helping me sleep no matter what I do during the day, it takes away an important part of my motivation for engaging in healthy behaviors.

It is no big deal because I usually don’t travel for long periods of time, but imagine the consequences this change of behavior would have on my health if I were to take melatonin on a regular basis!

I would be inside more, I would move less, I wouldn't spend as much time in nature, I wouldn't workout as regularly, and I would go back to eating hearty dinners rather than focus on light and easy-to-digest foods in the evening. Don't get me wrong, I am not doing all these things JUST to sleep well, but sleep is a big motivation and sometimes, when I don't feel like making an effort, sleeping well is the incentive that gets me going.

What About Caffeine and Health?

Many of us don’t take melatonin or sleeping pills, but we take caffeine. And despite the fact that caffeine has the exact opposite effect on sleep than melatonin, it actually has the exact same effect on healthy behaviors!

When you know you can wake up and feel sharp and energized with caffeine, you are not quite as motivated to get a good night sleep. And when a good night sleep is not quite as critical because you can function just fine without it, it makes it harder to do all the things that promote deep sleep. Like working out, spending time outside, stretching, meditating, eating light and healthy dinners, etc. All the good things that are helping not only with your sleep, but also with your fitness level, strength, blood sugar, cholesterol, mental health, and the list goes on.

How Can YOU Live a Healthier Life? 

This effect that "crutches" have on our behavior can actually be noticed in many different areas of health.

When one drinks wine after work to unwind and unplug, they might not be quite as motivated to make stress reduction their top priority. When one takes statins, will they work as hard to eat in a way that helps lower their cholesterol? When one takes metformin, will monitoring and managing their blood sugar seem as critical? And could someone who takes Ozempic become less interested in eating healthy food and in moderation? 

Of course, I am NOT suggesting that anyone quit their prescribed medication. Please don't get me wrong! I am also not putting on the same level alcohol, medication, and melatonin.  But I think we can all reflect on the crutches we are using on a regular basis that make it less necessary for us to focus on lifestyle changes, self-care, and healthy behaviors.

Don't you agree that it could be the very first step toward a healthier life?

I am wondering if you too are willing to question your need for crutches and how they might impact your ability to engage in healthy behaviors. Are you open to exploring what would happen if you didn't use caffeine, melatonin, or alcohol? Are you willing to ask your healthcare provider what lifestyle changes would be required for you to improve your health in a natural way rather than just with medication?

Maybe you have done all that already, but maybe you haven't and it's never too late.

I would love to hear what you think, either in the comments below if you don't mind being public, or via email if you want things to stay private. You can CONTACT me and share your thoughts. I would really love that, thank you 🙂

In the meantime, take good care of yourself, and treat your body well!


better sleep, healthy habits, melatonin, sleep, sleeping pills

You may also like

Get More Done In Less Time
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


None of my services or recommendations are intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or disease. The information I provide should not take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietitian or nutritionist. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices. I cannot guarantee the outcome of my services or suggestions. My comments are expressions of my personal opinion only. 

Questions? Let's Talk!