What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is used to treat insomnia and disturbed circadian rhythms. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a structure in the brain. It plays an important role in signalling the body that it is time for rest and sleep. When the release of melatonin is disturbed this can cause sleep problems. Taking additional melatonin may therefore be particularly helpful for people suffering from insomnia. Melatonin is a prescription-only medicine.
What is Melatonin used for?
Melatonin is used to treat sleep problems in people who have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or wake up too early. These problems may be caused by various factors such as blindness, jetlag, menopause, old age, medicine use or lifestyle habits (e.g. nightshift work). Melatonin can also be used to support the tapering process when coming off synthetic soporifics.
How to use Melatonin
Melatonin is available in various strengths. The doctor will recommend the right dose for you depending on your symptoms. A tablet or capsule should be swallowed with water, without chewing, one to two hours before bedtime. It is best to take Melatonin with food. Do not use this medicine continuously for more than 13 weeks without consulting a doctor.
Unless otherwise advised by the doctor, the usual dose in adults is:
- 2 to 5 mg, taken after food one to two hours before bedtime.
Children may need to be given an adjusted dose. Do not exceed the recommended dose and read the package leaflet closely before use.
Melatonin may cause side effects. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine:
- Sleepiness, insomnia;
- Dry mouth;
- Stomach pain, constipation;
- Increased need to urinate, increase in urine output;
- Abnormal dreams;
- Restlessness, nervousness;
- Excessive sweating.
Most side effects are temporary and will disappear once the body adjusts to the medicine. Consult a doctor if the side effects are severe or persistent. For further information on possible side effects, see the package leaflet.
When not to use Melatonin
Melatonin is not suitable for everyone and should not be used if:
- You are allergic to melatonin or any other ingredient in this medicine.
Use this medicine with caution and under medical supervision if you have health problems such as a liver disease, kidney disorder, autoimmune disease or epilepsy. It is also important that you tell the doctor what other medicines or nutritional supplements you are currently taking when you order. This is to avoid potential interaction and to make sure that the combination with Melatonin is safe.
Melatonin should not be used, or only with a doctor’s approval, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Melatonin may cause dizziness or sleepiness. Stay out of traffic if you experience these side effects.
Avoid drinking alcohol with this medicine, as it can make it less effective.