What is melatonin?


Generic Name: Melatonin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is melatonin used for?

Melatonin’s main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to prepare for being awake. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin. It is thought that adding melatonin from supplements might help them sleep.

How should I take melatonin?

If you choose to use melatonin, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

Use the lowest dose of melatonin when you first start taking this product.

Take melatonin at bedtime, or when you are getting ready for sleep. If you use this product to treat jet lag, take the dose at bedtime on the day you arrive at your destination and keep using this product for 2 to 5 days.

If you take this product to treat other conditions not related to sleep, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about when and how to take melatonin..

Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing. If desired, you may drink liquid to help swallow the dissolved tablet.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with melatonin does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

How do I store melatonin?

Melatonin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store melatonin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of melatonin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush melatonin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using melatonin?

Before taking melatonin, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are allergic to it.
  • Have diabetes;
  • Have depression;
  • Have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia;
  • Have high or low blood pressure;
  • Have epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
  • If you are using any medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection.

Is it safe to take melatonin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using melatonin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking melatonin.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of melatonin?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to melatonin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, melatonin is thought to be possibly safe when taken for a short period of time (up to 2 years in some people).

Common melatonin side effects may include:

  • Daytime drowsiness;
  • Depressed mood, feeling irritable;
  • Stomach pain;
  • Headache;
  • Dizziness.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with melatonin?

Melatonin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with melatonin?

Melatonin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with melatonin?

Melatonin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Diabetes;
  • Depression;
  • A bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia;
  • High or low blood pressure;
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorder;

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using melatonin.

What is the dose of melatonin for an adult?

Disturbed biorhythms, Sleep disorders

  • Adult: Usual dose 3-6 mg, orally,  at bedtime.

What is the dose of melatonin for a child?

Disturbed biorhythms, Sleep disorders

  • Child:2-3 mg, orally, at bedtime, increased after 1-2 wk to 4-6 mg if needed.
  • Max dose 10 mg.

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is melatonin available?

Melatonin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Capsule, Oral: 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg.

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of melatonin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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