Melatonin is a popular supplement that many people use to help them fall asleep and stay asleep all night. The effects of melatonin vary from person to person, which can lead to an accidental overdose.
Overdose of melatonin can cause unexpected and negative side effects. People who use melatonin should pay more attention to those side effects and always start with the lowest possible dose.
- What is Melatonin?
- Melatonin for Sleep
- What is The Correct Melatonin Dose?
- Melatonin Dose Safety Tips
- Can You Overdose on Melatonin?
- Can Melatonin Interact With Other Drugs or Substances?
- Melatonin and Alcohol
- Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Treating Melatonin Overdose
- Summing Up
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin levels go up and down regularly throughout the day. Usually, melatonin levels rise and remain elevated at night, enabling you to fall asleep. In the morning, the level falls and wakes you up.
Although melatonin is produced in the body, you can also get a small amount of it from food. Some vegetables and fruits contain melatonin. So they can also be used as an over-the-counter supplement.
Melatonin supplements may help alleviate insomnia symptoms and other sleep-related problems. Some people take melatonin supplements to reduce jet lag while traveling.
Shift workers can also use it during the day or irregular hours to help them sleep.
Because of potential side effects, anyone who starts taking melatonin supplements must consult the doctor first.
Melatonin for Sleep
If you have experienced insomnia, you may put a bottle of melatonin in the medicine cabinet. It can be purchased without a prescription and is very cheap. Some studies have shown it to be an effective sleep aid for people.
But how much should you take? The truth is that it may be much less than you think. There is no evidence that taking large doses of melatonin is life-threatening. But it can certainly lead to unnecessary side effects. Taking a massive overdose of melatonin can cause rebound insomnia. It means that melatonin not only does not work, but actually worsens your sleep problems.
So the answer to this question is, NO, you can not take melatonin too much. Otherwise, you will have some unexpected side effects.
What is The Correct Melatonin Dose?
There are many different health doses of melatonin, and how much you should consume depends on your age, your health, and the purpose for which you use it. If you are trying to treat insomnia, adjust your circadian rhythm, or to lighten the jet lag, the standard dose for adults ranges from 0.3 mg to 5 mg. But the problem is that many melatonin supplements contain up to even 10 times more than the standard amount in just a single pill.
Melatonin is considered a dietary supplement, so it is not as tightly regulated by the FDA as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. There is no way to be sure that you really get what you will get on the label. In one study, scientists analyzed melatonin levels in 31 melatonin supplements that are purchased from pharmacies and grocery stores, and found that 70% of the tested supplements had melatonin levels above or below the ad’s level. A piece of chewable melatonin tablet labeled 1.5 mg actually contains nearly 9 mg. This is a little scary – especially if you want to give your child melatonin. Some experts recommend buying melatonin online because the dose may be more reliable.
Melatonin Dose Safety Tips
If you are using melatonin for the first time, it is best to start with the lowest dose and then gradually increase it in 0.5 mg increments until you find the right dosage for you. You may find out 0.3 mg is all that is needed to improve sleep. Because melatonin doesn’t start working as fast as a prescription sleep aid, you need to take melatonin pills at least an hour before going to bed. Don’t expect the effect to be so obvious. It may not make you feel drowsy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
One advantage of melatonin is that if taken properly, it does not cause “sleep inertia” – you will feel drowsy the next day after taking sleep supplements.
Can You Overdose on Melatonin?
As mentioned earlier, no one has reported the death or even serious illness due to the overdose of melatonin. But if you eat too much, there will be some nasty side effects.
Common side effects of overdose on melatonin include:
- Drowsy during the next day
- Body temperature is too low (hypothermia)
- Stomach cramps
For men, excessive use of melatonin may reduce libido and sperm count. For women, overdoses of melatonin can affect reproductive hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone. At present, there are few studies on this topic, but there is a concern that melatonin may interfere with the menstrual cycle and ovulation. If you are pregnant or want to get pregnant, be sure to contact your doctor for advice before taking any melatonin.
Can Melatonin Interact With Other Drugs or Substances?
If you are taking any prescription drugs, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting to take melatonin.
The following drugs may have negative effects on melatonin:
- Hemodilution drugs or anticoagulants: Melatonin may increase the risk of bleeding.
- Blood pressure medications: Melatonin may reduce its effectiveness.
- Diabetes drugs: Melatonin may affect blood sugar and make these drugs ineffective.
- Contraceptives: Hormonal contraceptives increase the body’s natural levels of melatonin, so adding more may cause sleepiness.
- Steroids and immunosuppressive drugs: Melatonin may reduce the efficacy of these drugs. So please do not take melatonin with corticosteroids or other immunosuppressants.
- Drugs to prevent seizures (anticonvulsants): Melatonin may reduce their effectiveness and increase the risk of seizures in some people.
Because melatonin has a sedative effect, if you take it with other things that make you sleepy, such as opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs or alcohol, you may get some unexpected side effects, and even fall into dangerous state.
Melatonin and Alcohol
Generally, it is best to take melatonin without alcohol in your body, or take it long after you drink any alcoholic beverage. Depending on how much alcohol you drink, wait 2-3 hours at least before taking melatonin.
Because of the high frequency of using melatonin supplements, people often wonder if alcohol affects melatonin? The answer is YES. It is generally believed that you should NEVER take melatonin and alcohol at the same time.
First, if you combine melatonin with alcohol, it can have negative side effects. You may experience unsafe and unpleasant symptoms, like extreme sleepiness, dizziness, and increased anxiety. And you may be more likely to have high blood pressure, which may put your body into a dangerous situation.
Second, there is also a risk of interaction between melatonin and alcohol. Studies have found that it may affect your liver and how it produces enzymes. And this may lead to potential problems, including concentration, blushing, swelling of the feet and ankles, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
In addition to the possible side effects of alcohol and melatonin, it is also important to understand that alcohol itself can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle. Alcohol is a sedative that can make you feel sleepy, but it also prevents you from getting into deep sleep, so when you combine melatonin and alcohol, you don’t seem to get the result from melatonin, but from alcohol.
Alcohol can also reduce the amount of melatonin naturally produced by your body.
Finally, when you combine melatonin and alcohol, your breathing may also be affected. Alcohol cann affect the muscles around the respiratory tract, which may increase your sleep problems, especially if you have sleep apnea.
So you have too many reasons to avoid mixing melatonin and alcohol.
Is Melatonin Habit-forming?
One benefit of using melatonin is that you are less likely to rely on it, which can occur with other prescription sleep aids. However, taking high dose of melatonin for a long time may have the opposite effect than expected. In some cases, it will keep you awake rather than help you fall asleep.
Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?
Many parents turn to melatonin when their kids have trouble in sleeping. But is it safe?
Studies have found that melatonin can shorten the sleep time of children with sleep problems, especially children with ADHD, autism and other neurological diseases. However, there is little evidence that melatonin is helpful for kids who wake up at night and cannot full asleep again.
If your child’s sleep problem is situational, that is, caused by what happened in his/her life, and has not happened for a long time, then melatonin is not the best strategy. In these cases, it is best to try some behavioral changes first, rather than take melatonin directly.
Although it does not appear to be any short-term health risks, there are no sufficient studies to show whether melatonin for kids has any long-term health risks. Some research from animals have shown that melatonin may delay puberty. There is no evidence that human kids will do the same, but we cannot rule out this possibility unless more research is done.
Before giving your child melatonin, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a pediatrician to ensure that their sleep problems are not caused by a disease (such as an ear infection) or other potential health problems (such as sleep apnea). So take a look at your child’s sleeping habits before using melatonin. Sometimes small adjustments to sleep time can have a big impact.
When to See a Doctor?
If you are considering taking melatonin to solve the sleep problem, talk to your doctor first. Your personal doctor can recommend the correct dose and tell you possible unsafe side effects.
When you start to use the melatonin, you also want to report the side effects to your doctor as soon as possible if they appear.
And another important thing is that you may contact the Poison Control Center, 911 or your local emergency number if experience any of the following symptoms:
- Extremely high blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden chest pain
Treating Melatonin Overdose
If you are experiencing unpleasant side effects because of melatonin overdose, the treatment is very critical. Generally, treating melatonin overdose mainly depend on the severity of your symptoms. In the most emergency case, the doctor will concentrate on stabilizing your condition. If you have chest pain or difficulty breathing, additional medical intervention may be necessary.
In most cases, the best treatment is to reduce or eliminate the use of melatonin. Please don’t worry, no studies have shown that it is not safe to stop using melatonin abruptly.
If you have to stop using melatonin because of side effects, please also contact your personal doctor or sleep specialist, who may recommend other ways to help you fall asleep.
Melatonin is popular for sleep aid. Some people may find that melatonin helps them fall asleep more effectively than others. Some people can not even tolerate small doses of melatonin, and some people can not get any benefit from taking melatonin.
You should always start with as little melatonin as possible to avoid potential overdose and consult a doctor before starting.
Adults taking melatonin are less likely to experience a medical emergency. While kids are more likely to have serious medical problems when taking melatonin supplements.
Melatonin may interact with other drugs. So please contact your doctor before taking melatonin supplements. And you should never take melatonin with alcohol.
Last, the most important thing is if you suffer any side effect, contact your doctor at once.