If you suffer from sleep deprivation or you just want that cozy night sleep after a long week, melatonin can be a great help. Its helpful effects lead many to regularly consume melatonin, and some may oven consume higher dosages to have faster induction of sleep or deeper sleep. Is it safe? Here, we discuss melatonin, dosage, interactions, and alternative techniques to achieve sound sleep even without melatonin.
Melatonin is a food supplement used to aid sleep.
Melatonin overdose may lead to adverse effects including headache, nausea, vomiting, and blood pressure changes.
Dosage of melatonin varies. The ideal dosage for adults is between 0.5–5 mg.
Some drugs, especially downer drugs like Benadryl, may lead to side effects if taken with melatonin. Consult your doctor if you're taking other medications/substances.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a food supplement that aids in sleep by regulating the timing of the body's circadian rhythms. Normally, it is released by the brain in reaction to darkness, especially during sleep. The melatonin produced and released by the brain varies depending on the time of day, rising throughout the night and dropping during the day. Importantly, age leads to a reduction in melatonin synthesis, leading shorter sleep duration in older people.
Although melatonin supplements can be mass-produced from microorganisms or animals, synthetic melatonin is the most common type. Melatonin is a supplement typically taken orally as a pill or capsule.
Can you overdose on melatonin?
Even though the body produces melatonin, taking supplements still carries some danger. When used for shorter periods, it is safe for use during sleep.
In contrast to other sedative medications, there is no significant proof that consuming too much melatonin — gummies, tablets, pills, nuggets and liquids — can result in a life-threatening overdose. When melatonin is used with sedative drugs or substances, such as alcohol, severe health issues can arise.
The possibility of adverse effects is minimal, although melatonin overdose sides effects such as a light headache, nausea, and drowsiness are possible. If you take the appropriate dose of melatonin, you are likely to avoid serious side effects.
Melatonin overdose symptoms
Any supplement can have unwanted or unsettling side effects, even if it is considered safe. Higher melatonin doses have been associated with bad side effects. What happens when you overdose on melatonin? Below is a list of melatonin overdose symptoms:
Melatonin overdose symptoms in children:
- Upset stomach;
Melatonin overdose symptoms in adults:
- Worsening of alopecia (autoimmune hair loss).
How much melatonin should you take?
The amount of melatonin that should be taken mainly depends on the individual. This means that it might be challenging to estimate the appropriate dosage to avoid overdosing.
According to research, older people have reduced melatonin levels naturally, and may react to melatonin supplements more sensitively. Therefore, it is advised that elderly persons consult their doctor before taking melatonin and start at the lowest dose possible.
Users should take into account factors like your age when determining their dose. The ideal dosage based on age is approximately:
- Children: 2.5–3 mg;
- Adolescents: 5 mg;
- Adults: 0.5–5 mg;
- Older adults: 0.3–2 mg.
To determine how much melatonin to consume, consider other aspects like body weight and tolerance.
When should you see a doctor?
While melatonin is generally safe, there are some potential risks. Although it is unlikely that consuming melatonin will have an adverse effect, it is important to approach it cautiously.
If you take other medications or supplements, speak with your doctor before starting melatonin. Your doctor can create a safe strategy for you to start taking melatonin.
The first-line treatment if you overdose melatonin is to eliminate melatonin from your routine. This will reduce symptoms and eliminate the excess hormone in the body.
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may intensify adverse side effects such as tiredness, disorientation, and difficulty concentrating when used with melatonin. While using these drugs, alcohol usage should be avoided or restricted.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is ordinarily safe when prescribed, but taking more than is recommended can harm your liver. To this day, there haven't been any instances of acetaminophen and melatonin use having negative medication interactions. However, taking melatonin alone is generally advisable, and avoiding taking acetaminophen and melatonin together because they pose substantial hazards to the liver.
How to get better sleep without melatonin?
The inability to fall or keep asleep is more than simply a hassle. You may have noticed that sleep difficulties lead to sleep deprivation, affecting your career, social life, and general health. For those who don’t want to take melatonin, some alternatives can help improve sleep quality. These are things to consider:
- Plan out your power naps. For short-term alertness and better performance, the National Sleep Foundation advises 10- to 30-minute naps; any longer increases your risk of developing sleep inertia, which is characterized by drowsiness.
- Limit your caffeine consumption. According to a study from the Wayne State College of Medicine, get your coffee in the morning, and make sure to allow at least six hours before going to bed after consuming any foods or beverages that contain stimulants.
- Abstain from any cigars. Research shows that nicotine's stimulating effect (similar to coffee) prevents smokers from staying in deep sleep because their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms each night.
- Avoid exposure to blue light. Put your phone and other devices away at least an hour before going to bed. You'll feel less agitated and find it easier to sleep.
- Only use the bed for sleep. It is advised by the National Sleep Foundation to create a mind-body connection with your bed and sleep— not a Netflix marathon. Keep other activities in other spaces in your home or apartment.
Can a toddler overdose on melatonin?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children consuming melatonin increased by 503% between 2012 and 2021. It is not surprising that overdoses occur, given this enormous increase in consumption. A melatonin overdose may occasionally be a more dangerous circumstance. Based on a CDC report, 4,555 children, or 1.6%, required medical intervention.
What happens if you take too much melatonin?
In certain situations, skipping the lower dose and immediately going to the high amount can have the opposite effect of what was intended and make you feel more awake while you try to fall asleep. Be cautious and seek medical attention if you have high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, or chest pain.
Can melatonin overdose cause death?
Although melatonin overdose is possible, no lethal dose has yet been identified by studies, and no deaths have been linked to melatonin. Melatonin overdoses typically start off with mild to moderate symptoms that go away as the melatonin use is stopped.
- National Institutes of Health. Use of melatonin supplements rising among adults.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Melatonin: What you need to know.
- Sleep Epidemiology. Sleep quality of adult tobacco users: A systematic review of literature and meta-analysis.
- CDC. Pediatric Melatonin Ingestions — United States, 2012–2021.
- Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Melatonin Interaction Resulting in Severe Sedation.