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How Much Melatonin is Safe to Take?

how much melatonin is safe to take

Key Takeaways

  • Appropriate melatonin dosages vary by age. Studies have shown that 0.5 mg to 3 mg doses of melatonin are adequate to help in falling asleep and staying asleep. 

  • Always check with a healthcare provider before giving melatonin supplements to children, adolescents, and older adults.

  • There is no FDA-specified safe melatonin dosage. Studies have shown that taking between 1 mg and 5 mg of melatonin two hours before bedtime each night per night is enough to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. 

While millions of Americans take melatonin supplements to fall asleep, many people are unsure about the correct melatonin dosage or how much melatonin is safe. Melatonin dosage varies with age, body weight, co-occurring health conditions, other medications, and various other factors. Taking this dietary supplement at the appropriate dose is vital for its safe use. Please continue reading to learn more about melatonin dosing.

What is a safe melatonin dosage?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate sleep aids, which are dietary supplements. Melatonin is not officially FDA-approved to treat any condition. Therefore, if you are thinking of taking melatonin for better sleep, it is very important to know the correct dose of melatonin for you based on your age, body weight, and other health conditions or medications.

Appropriate melatonin dosages vary by age, and general guidelines are as follows:

  • Infants and toddlers (under 5 years of age): 1 to 2 mg

  • Older children (6-12 years of age): 1 to 3 mg

  • Teens and adults: 1 to 5 mg

  • Elderly people (over 65 years of age): 1 to 3 mg

This infographic by the Sleep Foundation provides a quick overview of these melatonin dosage recommendations. 

Always check with a healthcare provider before giving melatonin supplements to children, adolescents, and older adults. You should start with a low dose of melatonin and gradually increase the dose as needed. 

Stay on the lowest dose of melatonin for the shortest time possible. If your sleep problems persist after 1-2 weeks, do not increase to a higher dose of melatonin supplement. Instead, make an appointment to see your doctor or sleep specialist to determine the underlying cause of your sleep problems and recommend other sleep aids.

Taking melatonin can address various sleep problems, including:

  • 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 ADHD

Who should not take melatonin supplements?

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

What medications should you not take with melatonin?

Melatonin is available over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. However, taking melatonin can have drug interactions with other medications. Check with your doctor before taking melatonin supplements if you are on the following medications:

  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners, antiplatelet agents, certain herbal products and supplements)—melatonin can increase the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinners.

  • Medications prescribed for high blood pressure—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.

  • Birth control pills— this combination can cause additive sedative effects; in addition, you can have increased side effects of melatonin if you’re on oral contraceptives.  

FAQ on Melatonin Dosage

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in the central nervous system. It is released in correlation to the time of day. Melatonin secretion is lowest during the daylight hours and peaks in the evening when it turns dark. 

Melatonin regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and synchronizes the sleep-wake cycle throughout the day. Appropriate levels of melatonin in the body can promote restful sleep. Sleep is vital for many body processes, including immune system function. 

Melatonin supplements are available over the counter for people who don’t have enough natural melatonin production. These supplements can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. They are used to treat primary sleep disorders like insomnia, delayed sleep-wake disorder, REM sleep behavior disorder, shift work sleep disorder, and jet lag. Learn about the Best Sleep Aids: Prescription vs. Over-The-Counter.

Melatonin supplements are also used to ease sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep problems related to other conditions such as winter depression or rheumatoid arthritis. 

What is the FDA-recommended melatonin dosage?

There is no FDA-specified safe melatonin dosage or official dosage recommendation. Studies have shown that doses ranging between 1 mg and 5 mg of melatonin per night, taken approximately two hours before bedtime, are adequate to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. 

What is a safe starting dose of supplemental melatonin?

A safe starting dose of supplemental melatonin is between 1 mg and 3 mg per night for teenagers and adults. Children and older adults may need to take a lower starting dose of melatonin, between 0.5 mg and 2 mg.

What is a safe maintenance dose of melatonin supplements?

Doses of melatonin in the range of 1 mg to 5 mg every night can help promote good sleep quality and normal circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycles) in adults. If sleep problems persist after taking supplemental melatonin for 1-2 weeks, you should consult your doctor or sleep specialist. 

Is it safe to take 10 mg of melatonin?

It may not be safe to take 10 mg of supplemental melatonin. Doses between 1 mg and 5 mg every night are generally considered safe—10 mg may be too much melatonin. Taking high doses of melatonin can cause side effects. 

How many 10 mg melatonin should you take?

Adults should take no more than one 10-mg tablet of melatonin supplement each night. This is the maximum recommended dosage. Keep in mind that most people do not need such high doses of melatonin to achieve good sleep quality and normal sleep-wake cycles. 

Can I take 20 mg of melatonin?

Taking supplemental melatonin at a dose of 20 mg is not recommended. It can lead to a melatonin overdose. This can cause daytime sleepiness, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, lethargy, fatigue, nausea, and bedwetting in children. 

To avoid an overdose of melatonin, teens and adults should not take more than 5 mg, and children and older adults should not take more than 3 mg of melatonin.

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 side effects and may have a negative effect on your sleep cycle (circadian rhythms), causing temporary or permanent trouble sleeping. 

What should I do if I take too much melatonin?

If you've taken too much melatonin, wait for it to leave your system naturally. Melatonin levels usually come back down to normal in about 5 hours. If you develop severe symptoms, seek emergency medical care. 

What are the side effects of taking melatonin?

Melatonin supplements are generally safe and have fewer side effects than prescription drugs used for better sleep. However, melatonin can cause some side effects, such as:

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Bedwetting in children

Less common side effects of melatonin include:

  • Mild tremors

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Irritability

  • Confusion/disorientation

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Low blood pressure

Can you become addicted to melatonin supplements?

There is no risk of addiction to melatonin supplements. However, research shows it is best to limit melatonin administration to the lowest dose for the shortest time. Learn about the most addictive drugs you can be prescribed.

How do melatonin supplements work?

Melatonin supplements work by mimicking the effects of natural melatonin. 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.

Wrapping up

According to John Hopkins Medicine, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid melatonin. Individuals with health conditions like autoimmune disorders, seizure disorders, and depression should also steer clear. Melatonin supplements may impact blood sugar levels and raise blood pressure, especially in those on blood pressure medications. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or take other drugs, consult your healthcare provider before using melatonin.

Melatonin supplements can aid restful sleep, combat jet lag, and address sleep issues in night shift workers. While they are generally safe, there's no standardized melatonin dosage. Discuss with your doctor what is the safe amount for you.

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  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