Can You Overdose On Melatonin How To Determine The Right Dosage For You
Melatonin is natural, but taking too much of the supplement may lead to adverse side effects. Heres how to recognize signs of a potential overdose.
Tossing and turning night after night can take a toll on your mental and physical health. This can make you feel sluggish, irritable, and achy throughout the day. So naturally you might seek a sleep aid for better rest.
Melatonin is a neurohormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle, and many formulations and dosages are available over the counter, explains Ofer Jacobowitz, MD, PhD, an otolaryngologist and sleep expert based in New York City. It can be useful when you are trying to advance your bedtime, especially when combined with reducing light exposure two hours before bedtime.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland and gradually released into your bloodstream as you prepare for sleep. But if your body doesnt produce enough of this hormone, you may have problems falling asleep or staying asleep.
Melatonin supplements are generally safe when taken appropriately, but it is possible to overdo it. Read on to learn how to recognize a melatonin overdose.
Melatonin Dose For Adults
Since melatonin is considered a supplement, its not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . But if youre still interested in using the supplement, in most cases, Dr. Goldman suggests using the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time to achieve your desired outcome. In general, melatonin can be used in two ways.
Taking melatonin as a sleep aid
This method is meant to help you fall asleep faster in a very short amount of time. Dr. Goldman suggests starting with 1 mg, and then increasing that amount by 1 mg every week until youve reduced the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. But you should know, this method isnt super effective because you can easily interrupt the melatonin process.
Its important to note that its really easy to overcome the effect of melatonin, says Dr. Goldman. If you take it and then get on your phone, go on social media, play video games or if you have an overactive mind thats racing or worrying, you will likely overpower the effect of melatonin.
For this reason, its best if you take melatonin when you start feeling tired and make sure you allow your body to be at full rest when you take it.
Taking melatonin to adjust your circadian rhythm
For these more chronic cases, Dr. Goldman suggests working with a sleep medicine physician or behavioral sleep medicine specialist to create a sleep-wake schedule that may include the use of melatonin.
Why Do Some People Need Extra Support To Sleep
Imagine youre traveling across the country, spanning a time zone or two along the way. It could wreak havoc on your sleep . Or what if you occasionally work the night shift, throwing your sleep/wake cycle completely off balance? But even something as common as stress might make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep sometimes. Taking a melatonin supplement may help in these instances.3 Practicing sleep hygiene tips for better sleep, such as reducing screen time at night, and going to bed at the same time each night may also help. Some people cant relax their mind as they wind down for the night.
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How Much Melatonin Does Your Body Produce Naturally
The production of melatonin signals your body that its nighttime, allowing you to relax and lowering your body temperature. This helps you transition to sleep easier and promote consistent, quality sleep.4 Most people produce adequate melatonin to sleep on their own, with levels increasing at night and then diminishing in the morning, which is when the hormone cortisol increases, that promote wakefulness. The amount of melatonin the body actually produces varies throughout your lifetime, with levels increasing and decreasing during various life stages.5 Further, the aging process, diet, and stress can all disrupt the bodys normal production of melatonin, which may make quality sleep more difficult.
What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin
While side effects of melatonin are generally mild, you may experience grogginess while sleepiness before bed is desirable, taking a high melatonin dosage may cause drowsiness the next day.If you experience melatonin side effects, talk with your doctor. They may recommend to start with a lower melatonin dose until you find what works best with your body.
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Safety Tips For Kids Adults And Pregnant Women
As a relatively new form of natural treatment for insomnia, a growing number of people are relying on a daily melatonin dose. However, certain things should be taken into consideration when taking MEL. The following things will help prevent the vast majority of side effects.
Adults should not exceed a dose of 10mg, begin with a liquid supplement, and switch to a capsule or pill form only after stabilizing a dose that relieves symptoms.
Melatonin affects the heart as well. Anyone who already has heart disease and is also taking a melatonin supplements may suffer from even more heart-related problems.
Melatonin supplements should be avoided in women who are pregnant or those attempting to become pregnant. Melatonin has also been detected in breast milk and therefore should be avoided during breastfeeding.
Taking Melatonin supplements along with immunosuppressants might decrease the effectiveness of the drugs that decrease the immune system.
Taking melatonin along with anticoagulant drugs increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
People with a history of depression are advised to avoid using these supplements.
If your work is dealing with heavy machinery such as cranes or youâre a pilot or you work in job that demand a lot of attention you dont want to be messing around with melatonin.
Can Support Better Sleep
Melatonin is often called the sleep hormone and for good reason.
Its one of the most popular sleep aids and a common natural remedy to treat issues like insomnia.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that melatonin can support better sleep.
One study in 50 people with insomnia showed that taking melatonin two hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster and enhanced overall sleep quality .
Another large analysis of 19 studies in children and adults with sleep disorders found that melatonin reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep, increased total sleep time and improved sleep quality .
However, though melatonin is associated with fewer side effects than other sleep medications, it may be less effective .
Studies show that melatonin can lengthen total sleep time, shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and enhance sleep quality in children and adults.
This type of depression is related to changes in the seasons and occurs each year around the same time, with symptoms typically appearing in late fall to early winter.
Some research indicates that it could be linked to changes in your circadian rhythm caused by seasonal light changes .
Because melatonin plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, low doses are often used to decrease symptoms of seasonal depression.
However, other research is still inconclusive on the effects of melatonin on seasonal depression.
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Side Effects Of Melatonin: What Are The Risks
Melatonin is a hormone and dietary supplement commonly used as a sleep aid.
Although it has an outstanding safety profile, melatonins growing popularity has raised some concerns.
These concerns are mainly due to a lack of research on its long-term effects, as well as its wide-ranging effects as a hormone.
This article reviews the potential side effects of melatonin supplements.
When To Take Melatonin
Everyone reacts differently, but in most cases, youll want to take melatonin about 30 minutes before bed because it takes about 20 to 40 minutes to work.
Its not a sedative, so its not going to knock you out, notes Dr. Roth. Melatonin is like a little dose of nighttime. It tells that melatonin system to turn on.
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Can You Overdose On Melatonin
Its difficult to assess just how much melatonin is too much. It appears to carry a low overdose risk theNational Poison Control website reports several cases where children and adults consumed extremely high doses of melatonin and had little or no unwanted side effects . Its possible there is a lethal dose of melatonin, but no one knows what it is since there has never been a proven instance of too much melatonin causing death.
How Else Can You Improve Your Sleep Quality
“Melatonin works synergistically with other practices,” says Dr. Dow. “You’ll get the best results by combining a melatonin supplement with simple sleep hygiene strategies like keeping a consistent bedtime, exposing yourself to natural light first thing in the morning, and keeping the bedroom very dark and cool.” That includes avoiding blue light, so no scrolling through your phone or staring at the clock.
Most importantly, you’ll want to seek medical guidance to find the root of your insomnia. “As a sleep clinician, I first ask why is this person not sleeping?” Dr. Singh says. “That’s the fundamental thing.” Mental health and quality sleep go hand-in-hand, and melatonin alone can’t fix those kinds of issuesnor can it cure chronic, long-term insomnia. So, if you think you need to take melatonin everyday, don’t. Instead, talk to your doctor about more effective strategies and treatments for long-term relief.
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Skip Melatonin For Sleep If
Do not use melatonin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have an autoimmune disorder, a seizure disorder or depression. Talk to your health care provider if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Melatonin supplements may also raise blood-sugar levels and increase blood pressure levels in people taking some hypertension medications.
How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Child
Melatonin usually comes in 3 mg or 5 mg tablets. Five milligrams is considered a relatively high dose for a young person most children take a 3 mg or even a 1 mg dose.
In a study on melatonin for kids with ADHD, sleep onset advanced by 27 to 48 minutes with melatonin, and sleep duration increased by as much as 62 minutes.7 The children, between 6 and 12 years old, were given either a 3 mg or 6 mg dose of melatonin depending on their weight.
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Can I Overdose On Melatonin
While severe side effects are unlikely, taking too much melatonin at once can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and could result in next day grogginess. Because each personâs sleep cycle is different, as well as each personâs height, weight and sensitivity to hormones, there is no one-size-fits-all dose of melatonin that will work for everyone. Itâs best to start with a low dose of melatonin. If you give your body more than it needs, itâs possible to have the opposite effect and disrupt your sleep-wake rhythm, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.
Should Lower Doses Of Melatonin Be Used For Older Adults
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This article was written by Anna Furman, PharmD. Her full bio is provided below.
Studies have shown that exposure to supra-physiological plasma concentrations can lead to melatonin receptor desensitization.3,4 The range of maximally effective doses of exogenous melatonin was determined when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology first patented the medication. Since then, higher doses of up to 10 mg have been made available on the market. Although recent evidence suggests that doses greater than 6 mg of melatonin provide little benefit, additional research is required to determine the specific doses of melatonin that may be supra-therapeutic and subsequently interfere with the natural sleep-wake cycle or worsen insomnia from receptor desensitization.4 Appropriate monitoring and recommendations should be made to limit the dose being used on a regular basis in elderly people.3,4
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How Much Melatonin Is Too Much
Taken on a short-term basis, melatonin has very few side effects and when they do appear, they tend to be mild. Research shows that some side effects of taking melatonin can include headache, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness.3Low dose melatonin can safely be taken for up to 3 months, however doses higher than 5 mg should not be taken for longer than 2 months.
If youre pregnant or nursing, you should consult your physician before taking melatonin. Keep in mind that, like all supplements, melatonin might interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure or blood thinning medicines so best to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin if you are taking prescription medications. In older adults, melatonin may remain active in their bodies longer than it does in younger people and also may cause daytime lethargy.3
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The Bottom Line
If you struggle to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow, you might benefit from taking melatonin to help regulate your bodys sleep cycle. The optimal melatonin dose depends on your age, so start with the lowest dose of melatonin as may be effective to meet your needs. If youre not sure whether takinga melatonin supplement is the right choice for you , talk with your health care professional for guidance and support.
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Is It Safe To Take Melatonin
For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, thereÃ¢s not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety of supplementing with melatonin is lacking.
Also keep in mind:
Interactions with medicines
- As with all dietary supplements, people who are taking medicine should consult their health care providers before using melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications need to be under medical supervision when taking melatonin supplements.
Possible allergic reaction risk
Safety concerns for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Safety concerns for older people
Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement
Products may not contain whatÃ¢s listed on the label
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Other Ways To Help Senior Citizens Sleep Better
Solving sleep problems in older people requires a systemic approach. Therefore, in addition to using dietary supplements and treating age-related conditions, it is necessary to establish and maintain proper sleep hygiene. A balanced diet with foods rich in magnesium, potassium, fatty acids, and tryptophan can have a positive effect too.
May Alleviate Migraine Attacks
A migraine attack is a recurring type of headache that causes severe, throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on the side of your head.
Several prescription drugs help treat migraine, but melatonin may also offer relief due to its ability to inhibit pain sensations .
In a review of 11 studies, taking melatonin significantly reduced migraine severity and frequency compared with a placebo in both children and adults, but with varying effectiveness .
A different review of 25 studies found similar results, suggesting that taking 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime reduced migraine frequency in adults .
Melatonin may support eye health, ease tinnitus symptoms, treat acid reflux and GERD, and alleviate migraine attacks, but stronger evidence is needed for these uses.
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Melatonin: How Much Is Too Much And Other Sleep Advice
Melatonin is one of the most popular over-the-counter supplements in the United States. And its no surprise, considering nearly 40% of Americans say they have trouble falling asleep.
Melatonin helps us understand that its the end of the day and time to start winding down, he said.
While its commonly used as a sleep remedy, melatonin supplements dont come without risks. And people often misunderstand it. Chewning breaks down the facts in nine key points.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Melatonin Are There Any Side Effects
Studies have not shown any danger with melatonin, including any risk of dependency. That said, some patients may experience reactions to melatonin, which may depend on the dose. The higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of experiencing any side effects. Possible melatonin supplement side effects reported in children have typically been mild, according to NCCIH 8, and include:
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What Is The Proper Melatonin Dosage For Adults
If youre considering taking a supplement, you might be asking yourself, How much melatonin should I take? Or you might wonder how much melatonin someone should take for the desired effectis less more? How much melatonin is too much?
The safe amount of melatonin that can be taken ranges in doses of 0.310 mg per day, but it really depends on your age and specific sleep issue. Typically, its best to start with a low dose and increase it to find what works best for you.6 If you aim to improve sleep quality, take melatonin about 30-60 minutes before you go to bed for maximum effectiveness. If you feel groggy the next day after using melatonin as a natural sleep aid, you may have taken too high of a dosage. If this happens, try taking a lower dose next time and see if that solves the problem.4