Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

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    Melatonin is a useful tool for improving sleep quality. But is it possible to take too much? Learn how much is safe and what to do if you have taken too much.

    Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in the body. It is commonly used as a dietary supplement to improve sleep quality or to treat certain sleep disorders. However, many people wonder if taking too much melatonin can be dangerous.

    In this article, we will explore the question of whether it is possible to overdose on melatonin and the potential risks and side effects associated with excessive consumption. We will also discuss the recommended dosage and best practices for taking melatonin supplements to ensure safe and effective use.

    What is melatonin?

    Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and is produced in the pineal gland of the brain. This hormone is created from the amino acid called tryptophan and is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. The levels of melatonin in the body are affected by the time of day, with an increase in production during the evening and a decrease in the morning.

    How does melatonin work in the human body?

    Melatonin works by influencing the body’s internal clock. The pineal gland, located in the brain, initiates the production of melatonin in response to darkness and reduces it in response to light. When melatonin attaches to receptors in the brain, it reduces nerve activity, causing sensations of drowsiness and sleepiness. Furthermore, it may also decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and enhance the overall quality and duration of sleep.

    Is it safe to supplement with melatonin?

    Melatonin is generally considered safe for short-term use when taken in appropriate doses. However, higher doses of melatonin have been associated with potential side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches. That’s why it is crucial to follow the recommended dosage on the label and not exceed that amount.

    Additionally, anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding should always talk to their doctor before using melatonin, as there is not enough research to determine its safety for this population.

    Long-term effects of taking melatonin

    There is not enough research available to determine the long-term safety of melatonin supplementation. If you are experiencing long-term sleep difficulties, it is best to consult a healthcare professional.

    Health benefits of melatonin

    Melatonin is primarily used for its ability to regulate the body’s internal clock and promote more restful sleep. It is often used as a natural remedy for jet lag, as it can help regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality in those who have disrupted circadian rhythms due to travel. Melatonin has also been shown to lower core body temperature, which plays a role in sleep.

    Furthermore, melatonin supplements may help shift workers regulate their sleep patterns by promoting feelings of sleepiness at appropriate times.

    Melatonin supplementation

    Melatonin supplements can be a useful sleep aid when taken properly. Let’s review the recommended dosage, the best time to take it, and potential drug interactions.

    Recommended melatonin dosage

    The recommended dosage of melatonin can vary depending on the supplement being used. Melatonin supplements are available in a range of doses, from 0.5 mg to 10 mg or more. When taking melatonin, it's essential to remember that less is often more. It's recommended to start with smaller doses and gradually increase as needed. A general safe starting dose is between 1 and 5 mg.

    It's important to note that taking too much melatonin can lead to potential unwanted side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Therefore, it's crucial to follow the dosage instructions on the label of your melatonin supplement and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

    Best time to take melatonin

    The best time to take melatonin is typically 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This allows the hormone to start working in your body and signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. However, it is important to note that since melatonin can cause drowsiness, you should absolutely avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking it.

    What not to take with melatonin

    When taking melatonin, it is important to avoid certain substances that can interact with the supplement and cause adverse effects. It is recommended to avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol when taking melatonin. Likewise, it is important to avoid taking other melatonin-containing products while taking melatonin, as this can lead to an excessive intake of the hormone and cause unwanted side effects.

    Drug interactions with melatonin

    Melatonin has the potential to interact with certain medications soit is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking melatonin supplements, especially if you are currently taking any medications.

    Can you overdose on melatonin?

    Although melatonin is generally safe when used as directed, accidentally taking too much of the supplement can lead to adverse effects. Even though this is rare, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for and what you should do if you experience these effects.

    What are the signs and symptoms of melatonin overdose?

    Melatonin overdose is rare, but is mostly seen in children who accidentally ingest high doses of the supplement. It’s important to keep all melatonin supplements out of the reach of children and pets.

    If an overdose does occur, some common symptoms can present as blood pressure changes, excessive sleepiness, headaches, and nausea. In some cases, a drop in blood pressure may also occur. One study reported that low blood pressure can be a possible side effect of melatonin overdose, while another case reported lethargy and fatigue in people with acute toxicity.

    What to do if you're experiencing symptoms of a melatonin overdose

    If you suspect an overdose of melatonin, it is important to seek medical attention. It is important to inform the medical professionals about the amount of melatonin you have taken and any other medications or supplements you are currently taking.

    Can you sleep off taking too much melatonin?

    If you have taken too much melatonin, talk to a medical professional. You should not simply try to sleep off the effects. Although there is no recommended dose for melatonin, each person may react differently to different doses. It is always best practice to seek medical attention in any suspected cases of overdose.

    When to see medical attention for taking too much melatonin

    It is important to seek medical attention immediately if it impacts breathing or other vital functions. It is recommended to speak with a doctor and/or call poison control for additional insight on how to proceed.

    Should you take a melatonin supplement?

    Melatonin supplements can be a useful tool for those struggling with temporary sleep issues. Chronic persistent sleep issues should always be addressed with your doctor. It is particularly helpful for combatting symptoms of jet lag and resetting the body’s internal clock. However, as with any supplement, it is important to use melatonin as directed and to speak with a healthcare provider before using it. While melatonin is generally considered safe for short-term use, there is not enough research to determine its long-term effects.

    While melatonin supplements can be helpful, there are several other ways to improve sleep quality. Some ways include: maintaining a consistent sleep schedule; using blue light-blocking glasses or filters; avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol right before bed; and regularly exercising.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.