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How Much Melatonin is Safe to Take?

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Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the central nervous system in the pineal gland, which is located in the brain. Melatonin release is correlated with the time of day. For example, melatonin levels are lowest during the day and peak during the evening when it is dark. Melatonin secretion regulates the body’s circadian rhythms while synchronizing the sleep-wake cycle throughout the day. Functional, appropriate levels of melatonin promote consistent, quality sleep.

Melatonin supplements are available over the counter. According to the CDC, in 2012, over 3 million Americans used these supplements to help with situational stress and sleep problems like insomnia and jet lag. There is no doubt that such statistics have multiplied since 2012. In fact, Americans spend nearly one billion dollars a year on melatonin. A common question pharmacists get asked is if melatonin is safe and what dose of melatonin amount would be considered too much. Please continue reading to find out.

How do melatonin supplements work?

The pineal gland in the brain is responsible for natural melatonin production in the body. “It doesn’t make you sleepy, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening, it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep,” explains Johns Hopkins sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.

Taking melatonin can help with a range of sleep problems such as:

  • Primary sleep disorders like insomnia
  • Delayed sleep-wake disorder
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Jet lag
  • Sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What is a safe melatonin dosage?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate melatonin because it is a dietary supplement. Therefore, there isn’t much information on specific dosage recommendations. Studies have shown that 0.5 mg to 3 mg doses of melatonin are adequate to help in falling asleep and staying asleep. You should take the lowest dose of melatonin that helps you sleep. Your doctor or sleep specialist may also recommend a dosage.

FAQ on Melatonin Dosage

Is it safe to take 10 mg of melatonin?

Melatonin is generally considered safe to take every night at doses between 0.5 mg and 5 mg. A safe starting dose of melatonin is between 1 mg and 5 mg for adults. More melatonin can cause side effects, particularly in older adults. For older adults, lower doses, such as 1 mg, are usually considered enough melatonin.

How many 10 mg melatonin should you take?

In adults, 10 mg is the maximum recommended dosage. However, most people do not need doses of melatonin this high. While there is no risk of addiction, research shows that melatonin administration is effective at the lowest dose for the short term. Doses of melatonin in the range of 1 mg to 5 mg can help promote good sleep quality and normal circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycles). If sleep problems persist after taking supplemental melatonin for 1-2 weeks, you should consult a sleep specialist. 

Can I take 20 mg of melatonin?

Taking melatonin at a dose of 20 mg is not recommended. It can lead to a melatonin overdose. This can cause daytime sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness. To avoid an overdose on melatonin, you should not take more than 10 mg. 

How much melatonin is too much melatonin?

Anything over 10 mg for adults and 5 mg for children is too much melatonin. Taking too much melatonin can cause dizziness, headaches, and lethargy. It can also have a negative effect on your sleep cycle, leading to temporary or even permanent trouble sleeping. If you've taken an overdose of melatonin, the best thing to do is wait for it to leave your system. Melatonin levels will come back down to normal in about 5 hours.

What are the side effects of taking melatonin?

Melatonin supplement is generally safe and has fewer side effects than prescription drugs that are used to promote better sleep. However, melatonin can cause mild side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Bedwetting in children

Less commonly, melatonin can cause side effects such as:

  • Mild tremors
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Irritability
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Low blood pressure

Which medications interact with melatonin?

You can purchase melatonin over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. However, melatonin can have drug interactions with many different types of prescription medications, such as:

  • Anticoagulants (Blood thinners, antiplatelets, certain herbal products and supplements—melatonin can increase the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinners.
  • Blood pressure drugs—you can have worsening blood pressure control with melatonin intake.
  • Diabetes medications—melatonin can affect blood glucose levels.
  • Anticonvulsants—melatonin can make epilepsy drugs less effective.
  • Contraceptive drugs— this drug combination can cause additive sedative effects; in addition to that, you can have increased side effects of melatonin if you’re on birth control pills.  

Who should not take melatonin?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take melatonin. Also, people with certain health conditions like autoimmune disorders, seizure disorders, and depression should avoid melatonin; however, if you have one or more of these conditions, talk to your doctor about the safety and efficacy of melatonin use. Melatonin supplements can raise blood sugar levels; they can also increase blood pressure in people who are on medications to lower blood pressure. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or take other drugs, talk to your healthcare provider before taking melatonin. 

Wrapping up

Melatonin supplements can help promote restful sleep, overcome jet lag, and treat certain sleep disturbances such as those experienced by night shift workers. Taking supplemental melatonin is generally safe. However, there is no standard recommended dosage of melatonin. Talk to your doctor about how much melatonin is safe for you and how long you should take melatonin supplements. You can also use our BuzzRx Prescription Discount Card to start saving on melatonin and, if needed, other sleep aids on www.buzzrx.com/search.

 

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/autism/case-modules/anticipatory-guidance/03-closer-look.html#
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/melatonin-sales-spiked-coronavirus-pandemic-2021-1
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/melatonin-for-sleep-does-it-work
  4. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know