The human brain produces melatonin in the pineal gland to naturally regulate the circadian rhythm also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The amount of melatonin we produce declines as we age, and it could lead to problems falling asleep.
Over-the-counter melatonin supplements were created and are readily available to help fight the brain’s war on sleep. But too much of a good thing is sometimes, well… a bad thing.
By definition, an overdose happens any time you take more than the recommended dosage of a medication or supplement. While we didn’t find reports of anyone dying from a melatonin overdose, it is important to know that you can overdose on melatonin.
The good news is, you are unlikely to die from it, but the bad news is, you’re likely to experience various melatonin side effects. Taking too much melatonin may even backfire and keep you from getting that good sleep you took it for.
Taking the right dosage can be a bit tricky because there is a wide range of melatonin options available over-the-counter. In adults, the standard dose is anywhere from 1 to 10 milligrams (mg). But, it’s easy to take too much, especially since they make melatonin chewables that taste like delicious candy. However, experts recommend trying to keep it within 1 to 3 mg per day.
Melatonin Overdose Symptoms
If you’ve started taking melatonin and are now noticing some new not-so-great side effects, you may be experiencing an overdose. Here are some melatonin overdose symptoms to watch out for:
- Anxiety or increased irritability: Too much melatonin can cause irritability and anxiety. If these are new symptoms for you, seriously consider cutting back your melatonin dosage or ceasing use of it entirely.
- Cramps: If your melatonin dosage is too high for your body, you may experience some painful cramping.
- Diarrhea: This might start with some painful stomach cramps or hit you when you’re least expecting it, but either way, diarrhea is not usually a welcome guest.
- Dizziness: Any unusual dizziness or feelings of room-spinning may be a red flag that you’re taking too much melatonin.
- Headaches: Up to 1 in 20 adults has a headache every day or nearly every day. But if you’ve noticed an increase in headaches or a headache that feels a bit different than usual, decrease that melatonin dosage tonight and see if it helps.
- Joint pain: You may be getting some decent sleep, but if you’re suddenly experiencing unusual back or neck pain and sore joints, you might as well point the finger at that melatonin bottle on your nightstand.
- Nausea: Feelings of an upset stomach or nausea is another common side effect of taking too much melatonin. For some people, nausea may even lead to vomiting.
- Shakiness or tremors: Have you ever had a bit too much caffeine or gone too long without eating and experienced shaky hands or legs? If you notice unusual shakiness or tremors, you’re probably taking too much melatonin.
What Dosage Of Melatonin Should I Take?
It is always recommended to take the minimum amount of melatonin needed to get a good night of sleep. This amount is not going to be the same for everyone. One person may fall into a nice sleep after .5 mg while another person may still be counting sheep with the same dosage.
Start with a minimal dosage from .5 to 1 mg. If this works for you, do not increase it. If you notice unwanted side effects, lower the dosage by .5 mg. If this does not work for you, increase it by .5 mg but be mindful of changes or symptoms of melatonin overdose.
Melatonin can interact with medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines and other supplements. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin to see if it could interact with your medicantions.
Here are some times you may decide to try melatonin:
- Insomnia: 1-5 mg taken one hour before bedtime
- Jet-lag: 5 mg taken one hour before the intended bedtime
- A change in sleep times (new baby, a change in work shift, new time zone)
Good sleep is vital to good health. Our brains produce melatonin naturally to help us fall asleep but some of us produce more than others. For those who aren’t producing quite enough, there are melatonin supplements available that can help but as with any medication or supplement. But it is important to take the right dosage for you.
Take only the amount of melatonin you need to get a good night’s sleep and keep an eye out for changes and symptoms that may signify that you’re taking too much.
There are also many other ways to naturally improve your sleep quality, so consider putting some of these into action, too.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain. It is also created as a supplement for people who need help falling asleep.
How much melatonin is too much?
Standard melatonin dosages range from 1 mg to 10 mg. This is a wide range of dosages, which means that what works for someone else may not work best for you. In other words, there is no one perfect answer on melatonin dosage for every person. Start with the lowest dose possible, usually .5 mg, and increase little by little until you find the right dosage for you. If you begin experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve described above, you may be taking too much melatonin.
Can you take 20 mg of melatonin?
Technically, you can take nearly any dosage of melatonin, but it does not mean you should. Taking too much melatonin can lead to melatonin overdose and a variety of unwanted side effects, including headache, dizziness, stomach cramping, diarrhea and anxiety among others.
Can you take melatonin with other medication?
Melatonin can negatively react with some other medications, like antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines and other supplements. Speak with your physician or pharmacist before beginning melatonin, to ensure it will not negatively interact with your other medications.