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Are Melatonin Supplements Safe?

25 July, 2023

Sleep is essential for maintaining your overall health and wellbeing, but getting enough of it can be a lot easier said than done. 

Insomnia can affect anyone, anywhere and can significantly impact your daily life. Instead of feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day, you will often wake up feeling sluggish and ready for the day to end before you’ve even left your bed.

If this sounds familiar, you will have also likely found yourself scrolling for hours on end looking for the best ways to reach the land of nod. Whether it be having a warm bath, drinking a calming tea, or reading a book, the list goes on and on. And when all of these inevitably fail, what are you supposed to do? 

Well, have no fear — melatonin supplements could be the sleeping solution you’ve been looking for.

Having taken social media by storm in recent years, melatonin supplements have left many people raving over how much their sleep quality has improved since taking them. But are they actually safe?

In this blog post, we are going to take you through what exactly melatonin supplements are before answering this question once and for all. With Hormones And You, discover all you need to know about melatonin supplements.

What are melatonin supplements?

First things first, let’s get to know what melatonin supplements actually are. 

Melatonin supplements contain a synthetic version of melatonin — a naturally occurring hormone that is produced by your brain’s pineal gland. 

Melatonin is the hormone that’s responsible for helping you fall asleep and wake up and is an essential component of your internal body clock. When it gets dark outside, your brain starts to produce more and more melatonin to make you feel sleepy. Then, when it gets light, these melatonin levels drop to help you wake up. 

However, thanks to smartphones, laptops, TVs, caffeine and several other things, it can be pretty easy to disrupt your body clock and cause all sorts of sleep issues to occur.

Melatonin supplements effectively account for these disruptions by supplementing your body with the melatonin it’s lacking. 

Available as tablets, capsules and liquids, the synthetic melatonin that’s available in melatonin supplements is bioidentical to the natural hormone that your body produces and is typically available at higher concentrations. 

Why take melatonin supplements?

There are many reasons why you might decide to take melatonin supplements. Their main purpose, however, is to help tackle many sleep-related issues, such as: 

Benefits of taking melatonin

Melatonin supplements can offer many benefits and do more for you than simply helping you fall asleep. 

Firstly, the increased amount of melatonin can help realign your body clock with the correct sleeping pattern and regulate your sleep-wake cycle — something that’s especially useful when working shifts or struggling with jet lag. 

Secondly, taking melatonin supplements could help you fall asleep faster and for longer. Not only that, but they could enhance the quality of sleep you get too. This is because increasing your amount of melatonin helps boost rapid eye movement (REM) sleep — the stage where you dream and allow your brain to process your day. Having more of this type of sleep helps you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. 

Finally, melatonin can help reduce sleep disturbances caused by anxiety or sudden panic attacks. This is because melatonin supplements allow you to sleep a lot more deeply and bypass any thought-induced disturbances.

How safe are melatonin supplements?

When taken at the correct and appropriate dosage, melatonin supplements are generally considered safe to use, according to scientific research. During a study published back in 2016, researchers concluded that the “short-term use of melatonin is safe, even in extreme doses”, finding that melatonin only produces mild side effects and severe side effects in extremely rare cases. 

Another study discovered that taking doses over 10mg didn’t increase the risk of severe adverse effects. 

With so few negative effects, it’s easy to see why melatonin supplements are recognised for having a high level of safety — and why more and more people are starting to enjoy their benefits.

Potential melatonin side effects

As with any type of medication or supplement, there are certain mild side effects that melatonin can cause. These include: 

  • Daytime sleepiness – this usually happens when taking higher doses or when taken too close to the time you need to wake up 

  • Headaches – headaches can occur when taking melatonin, but only rarely

  • Dizziness and nausea – these side effects are usually mild and will disappear on their own once your body adjusts

  • Stomach problems – cramps, diarrhoea and constipation can occur when you take melatonin, but again, these aren’t all that common

If you find that you experience side effects that get worse or don’t go away after taking melatonin, always speak with a medical professional for advice. 

Who can’t take melatonin?

At the moment, there’s limited research into whether or not melatonin is safe to take if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. However, as a precaution, the best advice is to avoid taking it. 

Certain medical conditions can also be negatively impacted by melatonin supplements. You should avoid taking melatonin supplements if:

  • You have liver or kidney disease

  • You have or had a blood clotting disorder

  • You have rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus or multiple sclerosis

  • You have epilepsy

You can find out more on our melatonin safety information page.

Melatonin dosage

You are usually recommended to take a 3mg dose of melatonin an hour or two before you go to bed — any earlier and you could fall asleep when you aren’t planning to. 

If you find that 3mg isn’t working, your doctor may recommend upping your dose. You should always make to follow any instructions from your doctor or the provider that you’ve bought your melatonin supplements from — not only for your own safety but also for the best results.

Where possible, you should always take your melatonin with food and, if it’s a tablet or capsule, always swallow it whole. If you ever accidentally take too much melatonin, call 111 for advice. 

Interactions with other medication

Melatonin supplements can interact with certain medications and make them ineffective. This is why it’s so important that you consult a medical professional before taking any form of melatonin supplements. 

Some common medications that melatonin can interact with include: 

  • Antidepressants

  • Medication for psoriasis

  • Medications for stomach ulcers or acids

  • Antibiotics

  • Medication for epilepsy or neuropathic pain

  • Sedative antipsychotic medications like benzodiazepines (Diazepam/Lorazepam) or olanzapine/risperidone

  • Other sleeping aids like Zaleplon, Zolpidem or Zopiclone

  • Blood thinners such as Warfarin

  • Immunosuppressants

  • Monoamine oxidase (MOA) inhibitors such as phenelzine, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid and selegiline

If you want to take melatonin supplements alongside your usual medications, speak with your doctor or a medical professional before incorporating them as part of your nighttime routine.

Sleep struggles aren’t uncommon and melatonin supplements are there to help. 

But, before you take your sleep problems into your own hands, why not start an online consultation with us? At Hormones And You, we’re experts in getting to the land of nod and would be happy to help you find the sleep solution of your dreams.


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