Melatonin is a dietary supplement that has become increasingly popular in recent years. As a naturally-occurring hormone, it is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, and its levels are controlled by the sun’s rising and setting.
Melatonin supplements are a synthetic form of this hormone designed to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm or “internal clock.” That way, you can go to sleep and wake up when you’re supposed to.
The question is – how much melatonin is safe and what happens if you overdose? This guide takes an in-depth look at the answers to these questions and more.
How Much Melatonin Can Adults Take
How much melatonin to take for sleep depends on several factors, one of which is why you need to take it first. For instance, observational studies have shown melatonin to be effective in treating migraines.
Its effect on anxiety is also being studied. The melatonin level required to treat chronic migraines, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other health-related ailments will vary depending on the issue.
How many milligrams of melatonin should I take? Here’s an idea of what would constitute the right dosage:
Melatonin for Sleep
There’s no official recommended supplemental melatonin dosage for sleep. A dose of anywhere from 1-10 mg is sufficient to improve sleep quality.
If you’re just starting, it’s always a good idea to take a lower dose and gradually increase it over a few weeks until you find the optimum level required to get a good night’s rest.
Melatonin for Circadian Rhythm Regulation
If you work in a job that doesn’t align with your body’s circadian rhythm, taking 5-10 mg of melatonin can help you get better quality sleep when you need to.
For instance, if you are a shift worker and typically start working in the evening and get off in the morning, melatonin can help you get that much-needed shut-eye.
The same applies to individuals who suffer from seasonal depression (SAD), also known as winter depression. The short days and long nights can throw off your circadian rhythm.
If that’s the case, taking 1-5 mg of melatonin in the early afternoon can help you get a good night’s rest once you get home in the evening.
Melatonin for Jet Lag
Individuals who frequently travel to different time zones can also benefit from melatonin. 1-5 mg has proven effective in combating the unpleasant effects of jet lag.
A great strategy to adopt would be taking a melatonin supplement at least 30 minutes before bed until your body adjusts to the new time zone.
Melatonin for Sleep Wake Cycle Disorder
The findings of a recent study indicate that melatonin is an effective first-line treatment of delayed sleep wake cycle disorder.
A low dose in the 3-5 mg range is usually an effective remedy for treating the condition. We recommend consulting a healthcare provider to determine your optimum dose.
Melatonin for Surgery Premedication
If you’re going in for surgery, melatonin can help relieve preoperative stress and anxiety associated with the looming procedure.
For best results, patients are recommended to take 3.5-10 mg of melatonin 50-100 minutes before surgery. Ensure you get the green light from your doctor beforehand.
Melatonin for Tardive Dyskinesia
15-20 mg of melatonin has proven to decrease tardive dyskinesia symptoms. The condition is characterized by repeated, uncontrollable movements commonly observed in patients taking antipsychotic medication.
Melatonin for COVID-19
The findings of a 2022 study indicate that melatonin is effective in improving the quality of sleep among patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Patients also showed improvement in their blood oxygen saturation.
Melatonin for Adjunctive Therapy in Cancer Patients
High doses of melatonin administered to cancer patients intravenously or orally can reduce the size of a malignant tumor, increasing the survival rate of these individuals. The effectiveness of this line of treatment depends on the cancer type and the extent to which it has spread.
Melatonin for Thrombocytopenia
Melatonin can also remediate the low blood platelet levels observed in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It has also proven effective in enhancing the recovery of white blood cells.
Melatonin for Headaches
10 mg of melatonin taken at night can help provide pain relief and prevention among individuals who suffer from cluster headaches. If you suffer from chronic migraines, 3 mg before bedtime is enough for prevention and lasting relief.
Melatonin for Nicotine Withdrawal
If you’ve decided to give up smoking, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. 3-5 mg of melatonin taken 60 minutes before bed works effectively to minimize mood-based withdrawal symptoms.
Is Melatonin Safe?
The short answer is – yes. Provided you stay within the recommended dosage for the specific condition you’re treating, you don’t have anything to worry about.
That said, melatonin supplements should only be used as a short-term remedy for sleeping issues. It can cause long-term changes to your circadian rhythm if you use it continuously for extended periods. You might find that you cannot sleep without it, and that’s not what you want.
The best thing to do would be to look into and address the underlying cause of your sleepless nights so that you can eventually rely on your body’s naturally produced melatonin to help you fall asleep and wake up when you’re supposed to.
As far as a melatonin overdose goes, animal studies suggest that taking more than the recommended milligrams can theoretically cause death.
However, humans would have to take more than 10,000 times the recommended amount for this to happen. There have been no reported cases of people dying from a melatonin overdose.
How much melatonin should you take for sleep? A dosage of anywhere from 1-10 mg is enough to significantly improve the quality of sleep you’re getting. You want to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it until you find your sweet spot.
Keep in mind that melatonin should only be used as a short-term remedy for sleep-related disturbances. Chronic insomnia can sometimes be a sign of a serious underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
In the meantime, find out how vibrational music can help improve your sleep quality.