If you’ve had a restless night or two, it’s likely you’ve reached for a melatonin supplement to help you catch some Zzz’s.
This sleep aid may help put symptoms of insomnia, jet lag, and other occasional sleep concerns to bed. But if you’re having trouble sleeping every night, is it safe to keep taking melatonin?
Here’s what might happen if melatonin’s your solution for nightly sleep probs.
Is it OK to take melatonin every night?
Taking melatonin every night is generally considered safe for short periods of time, but it’s not a long-term solution.
If you find yourself taking melatonin to fall asleep on a regular basis, it’s time to talk with your doctor about other sleep strategies or solutions.
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that your body produces to promote tiredness. The amount your bod makes works in tandem with your circadian rhythm and is triggered by light and dark. This makes you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.
Melatonin supplements essentially provide a boost to get the same wind-down results. So, even though the body naturally produces melatonin, folks may use a supplement for a little extra help with:
- delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
- jet lag
- shift work sleep disorder
- trouble sleeping with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism
Melatonin is considered safe for nightly use in the short term, but that doesn’t mean you should take it every night.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about melatonin’s effectiveness and dosage, and there isn’t a lot of info about how it can affect you in the long-run.
In adults, a 2015 research review found that using melatonin for long periods of time may lead to mild side effects. For kiddos, some research suggests that long-term use may delay puberty.
A 2021 research review pointed out that the longest studies using melatonin don’t go past 6 months. But these studies also found promising results where short-acting or prolonged-release melatonin didn’t give folks side effects like withdrawal or rebound insomnia.
And, the recent research review above mentioned that people with actual medically diagnosed sleeping disorders don’t really benefit from using melatonin and the sleep aid doesn’t help folks fall asleep faster.
So, while you *can* take it every night for a little while, melatonin and other sleep aids shouldn’t be a Band-Aid for chronic sleep conditions.
Feel like one dose isn’t doing the job? Or accidentally took extra? Taking another dose of melatonin most likely won’t hurt you, but it may up your risk of side effects like headaches, nausea, tummy troubles, or even low blood pressure.
That said, if a normal dose of melatonin isn’t working for you, you should chat with your doc about other sleep solutions. You shouldn’t just keep taking more melatonin to fall asleep.
TBH, there isn’t a solid answer as to how much melatonin you should take, and research varies on what’s considered a safe amount.
Some studies suggest taking anywhere between 0.1 to 10 milligrams (mg) per dose, while others find the sweet spot’s between 1 and 5 mg.
When it comes to kiddos, a 2016 research review noted that dosage depends on their age. Since there aren’t any solid guidelines for how much melatonin is safe for kids, always check with a doctor first.
What time should I take melatonin?
Don’t expect to take melatonin and immediately crash. If you think it’s not working, you might not be taking it correctly.
The best time to take melatonin also varies by age. The National Health Service suggests:
- Children: 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime
- Adults: 1 to 2 hours before bedtime
It’s also a good idea to ask your healthcare professional about how much melatonin to use or when to take it.
While melatonin is generally safe to take, there are some potential side effects if you take higher doses or extended-release capsules.
Melatonin side effects can include:
- frequent urination
- drowsiness or fatigue
- stomach discomfort
You may also experience less common side effects like:
- low blood pressure
Stop taking melatonin and give your doc a call if you experience any side effects.
If you’re taking large dosages of melatonin every single night, it’s possible you can overdo it and wreck your sleep even more.
While there’s no “official” overdose amount, too much melatonin can actually disrupt your circadian rhythms and make it harder to snooze.
A melatonin overdose may lead to other side effects like:
- daytime fatigue
- nightmares or vivid dreams
- joint pain
- changes in blood pressure
If you experience any of these, stop taking melatonin and talk with your doctor ASAP.
There’s not enough research to prove that taking melatonin while pregnant or breastfeeding is safe. So, it’s best to skip this sleep aid if you’re preggo, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
You should also avoid taking melatonin or talk with your doc if you have:
- autoimmune conditions
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- seizure disorders
- allergies to melatonin
Melatonin can also interact with certain meds, so talk with your doctor before using it if you’re taking:
- natural or prescription sleep aids
- epilepsy medication
- diabetes medication
- blood thinners
- blood pressure medication
- hormonal birth control
- central nervous system depressants
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
You should also avoid mixing melatonin with alcohol, so skip it on nights you decide to imbibe.
It’s time to talk with your doc if you’re:
- finding it hard to fall or stay asleep regularly
- having sleep issues that affect your day-to-day activities
- feeling sleepy during the day often
- taking melatonin (or another sleep aid) and it either isn’t working or it’s causing side effects
Your doctor will examine your sleep habits, lifestyle choices, and overall health to help you get to the bottom of your sleep probs.
From there, they’ll work with you to set up a treatment plan that’s best suited to your needs. This may mean medication, changes in your sleep routine, diet changes, exercise, or other strategies to put you on the path for sleep success.
- Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces to promote sleepiness.
- Melatonin supplements may help people with sleep concerns like insomnia, jet lag, shift work disorder, or DSWPD.
- While melatonin can provide short-term relief from sleep concerns, it shouldn’t be a long-term solution.
- There are currently no official guidelines on melatonin dosage, but the sweet spot’s between 1 and 5 mg. When in doubt, ask your doc.
- If you’re experience regular trouble sleeping or your sleep concerns are affecting your daily activities, talk with your doctor for strategies and support.