Can You Take Too Much Melatonin? How Much of it is Too Much?
Disclaimer: Zach Davis is not a trained doctor, sleep counsellor, or medical professional. The information on this post is based on facts, and research.
This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease. Never dismiss any advice your health physician gives. The author shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or any other damages.
Melatonin Overdose: Is It Possible? Can OD Actually Kill You?
Numbers show that 50 to 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder with insomnia being the most prevalent problem that prevents people from getting sufficient amount of sleep.
About 35.3% of adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period. In order to get much-needed sleep, many people use melatonin which allows them to get enough good night’s rest in a natural manner.
One thing that isn’t discussed that often is a potential overdose on melatonin. Can you take too much of it? Can it kill you? You’ll find answers below.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone whose main purpose is to help regulate the sleep and wake cycle. The pineal gland, a small gland located in the center of the brain, produces this hormone. The levels of this hormone fluctuate during the day. Generally, they go up through the evening and remain elevated at night thus allowing you to sleep. In the morning, melatonin levels drop and you wake up. Different factors can impair its balance and prevent you from getting enough sleep. That explains why people use supplements and pills that contain this hormone to address sleep deprivation.
How Effective is Melatonin?
Before finding out whether you can OD on melatonin it is important to address its efficacy. Pills and supplements containing this hormone have become incredibly popular, but are they effective? Melatonin works together with the body’s circadian rhythm, a term that refers to physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. Basically, circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock.
Evidence shows that it helps regulate body’s temperature, hormone levels, and blood pressure. A growing body of studies confirms that melatonin supplementation is, indeed, an effective way to fall asleep. For example, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a research which showed that taking melatonin significantly increases sleep duration, self-reported sleepiness, and fatigue, unlike placebo.
A meta-analysis of 19 studies on subjects with sleep disorders found that melatonin aid in the reduction of the time it took to fall asleep by seven minutes on average. In addition, subjects reported the quality of their sleep has also improved.
As seen above, science supports the idea that taking melatonin can help you improve sleep. A common misconception is that the more you take, better results you can expect. It doesn’t work like that! To experience desired results you need to take an adequate melatonin dosage.
Can You OD on Melatonin as a Sleep Aid?
As much as melatonin is an effective tool to get more sleep, there is always a risk of overdose and potential side effects. It’s not just melatonin, everything you take can carry these risks and you need to be informed about everything before you purchase some product.
A vast majority of melatonin-based products today are sold as dietary supplements and the manufacturing process of these items is not regulated by the FDA. While some stricter measures are being introduced with the rise of this industry, the manufacturers are still not obliged to inform potential customers about overdose risks. At the same time, lack of regulation of this industry has allowed brands to sell their products at varying dosages. As a result, it is easy for people to take more than allowed and experience adverse reactions.
So, the answer to the question can you take too much melatonin is simple – yes, you can. Labels of many products on the market suggest dosages that are higher than those recommended (see below). Users are told to stick to the dosage listed on the label and they do so, without realizing they might be putting their health in jeopardy.
Good news is that melatonin won’t kill you, but you may feel uncomfortable and experience several unpleasant effects. Symptoms of melatonin overdose are:
It is important to mention that too much of this hormone may have a negative impact on blood pressure in persons with hypertension.
How Much Melatonin is Too Much?
The best way to avoid melatonin overdose is to take the right dosage. Adults who are struggling with insomnia or occasional sleepiness are advised to start it off by taking a dosage of two-tenths of a milligram to five milligrams about an hour before bedtime. If the dosage is well-tolerated, but not effective then you can slowly increase it until you get desired results.
Melatonin Dosage for Adults
Generally, these melatonin dosages are recommended:
- For general help falling asleep: 0.3-10mg
- Insomnia in older adults: 0.1-5mg
- Jet lag: 0.1-8mg
- Restless leg syndrome: 3mg
A dosage of up to 10mg is considered mild and safe while a 20mg dose is considered high and is only recommended by doctors for patients with serious sleep disorders. Dosages of 30mg and especially 100mg are also considered high, the latter should not be used under any circumstances.
What to do in case of an overdose?
Melatonin overdose may be difficult to spot because symptoms are similar to those of many other health problems and side effects to some medications. However, if you do experience these symptoms you should not ignore them. Consult your doctor, describe all symptoms you have noticed, and mention you’re taking melatonin. Your doctor will diagnose the problem. For melatonin overdose, you can also contact Poison Control Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 or call 911 if you experience serious reactions including chest pain and high blood pressure.
Melatonin Overdose Side Effects on Adults
Side effects occur in persons who take a higher dosage than recommended but may also happen due to underlying health problems. Besides headache, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, and nausea, you may experience:
- Grogginess in the morning
- Mood changes
- Vivid dreams
- Hormonal changes
Melatonin may also aggravate bleeding in persons with bleeding disorders, increase blood sugar in diabetic patients, make symptoms of depression worse, interfere with immunosuppressive therapies in people who received transplants, increase the risk of seizure disorders.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycle. A growing body of evidence confirms the efficacy of this hormone in improving sleep duration and quality. That said, taking excessive dosage may cause overdose and side effects. While melatonin is effective and it can help you get much-needed sleep, you need to stick to dosages that are considered safe. If you’re not sure, consult your doctor and ask about the ideal dose.
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Author: Zach Davis
When I’m not learning about sleep, you can find me hanging out with my family and friends.
I absolutely love psychology and the art of helping people find the best balance between work and sleep.
I hope everyone who visit our site will get an edge on your quest for a good night’s sleep!