If you’re a fan of late-night dinners or love an evening snack right before bed, it may be time to make some adjustments, especially if you’re taking melatonin to fall asleep at night — your habit might be accidentally leading to weight gain.
A melatonin supplement can be a great temporary tool for people with sleep trouble because it’s a hormone that plays a key role in maintaining your body’s internal clock, including regulating your sleep cycles. However, while it can work wonders for people getting back to normal sleep patterns, it’s still a hormone, and if you’re not paying attention to when you take it, you could end up affecting other bodily functions in the process.
According to integrative medicine doctor Aviva Romm, MD, one of the times during the day to avoid taking melatonin is right after eating. Because melatonin is meant to start putting the body into a recovery and healing mode, its job is to wind down the body. The problem with this, of course, is that if you just ate, your body is still trying to stay active to digest that food. “If you eat your dinner late, let’s say 7:30pm, and then you take your melatonin at 8pm, you may be quieting your metabolism a little bit,” Romm explained on mindbodygreen’s podcast. “You may not get as much digestive fire, and it may actually affect weight gain.”
Luckily, the fix to this issue couldn’t be easier: Add some more time between when you eat your last meal or snack and when you take your melatonin and head to bed. To figure out how much time you should include to space out those two occurrences, consider two key factors. First, your body is doing the most digestive work for the first 30 minutes after eating, and second, it’s generally recommended that you take the supplement 30 to 60 minutes before you head to bed. Thus, it may be best to wait at least an hour to an hour and a half between finishing your food and popping that supplement. Let your body do that digestive heavy lifting and then some before getting ready for bed.
By adding that little bit of time, you’ll not only give yourself a breather but also keep that melatonin from causing some potential weight gain.