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Can You Overdose on Melatonin? 7 Melatonin Dosage Tips

melatonin dosage tips

Research suggests that your natural melatonin production decreases as you age.13 Whether you have a melatonin deficiency or general insomnia, taking a melatonin supplement can help to support good sleep. However, understanding just how much you should take is key to maintaining good sleep and avoiding drowsiness during the day. Remember that melatonin is a sleep regulator, not a sleep initiator. Read on to learn more about melatonin dosage. 

What is the Best Melatonin Dosage?

People struggling with sleep issues often make the mistake of taking too much melatonin at once assuming that that’s the best way to get better sleep. Excessive melatonin can just disrupt your sleep cycle and cause serious side effects (more on this later), so it’s always best to consult your doctor if you aren’t sure.

For insomnia and occasional sleeplessness, the average adult typically takes 0.2 milligrams to 5 milligrams about an hour before bedtime. A good rule of thumb is less is better. It’s better to start with the smallest dosage possible. Once your body adjusts to the smaller melatonin dosage, you can increase your dosage as needed.3 

Your age, weight, and sensitivity to melatonin can affect how much of the supplement you should take. A study from MIT shows that adults over 50 should take 0.3 milligrams of melatonin to maintain good sleep throughout the night.4 

Melatonin Dose Chart for Adults

The optimal dosage can differ depending on your needs and the reason for taking melatonin.5 





2 to 3 mg before bed

Up to 29 weeks

Sleep problems related to sleep-wake cycle disturbances

2 to 12 mg before bed

Up to 4 weeks

Trouble falling asleep

0.3 to 5 mg before bed

Up to 9 months

Sleep disorders in blind people

0.5 to 5 mg before bed

Up to 6 years

Jet lag

0.5 to 8 mg at bedtime, on the day of arrival

Continue for 2 to 5 days

Melatonin Dosage for Kids

Kids can have a variety of sleep issues themselves, but they also tend to be much more sensitive to any supplements, melatonin included. Generally, melatonin should only be taken for children with neurodevelopmental disorders who often have sleep issues. Kids with certain developmental disorders may also take melatonin as needed and as recommended by your doctor.6





5 mg or 0.05 mg/kg to 0.15 mg/kg of body weight at bedtime

4 weeks has been used in children 6 to 12 years-old with primary insomnia.

For secondary insomnia, 6 mg to 9 mg, taken before bedtime for 4 weeks, has been used in children 3 to 12 years-old.

Sleep problems related to sleep-wake cycle disturbances

0.5 mg to 12 mg of melatonin daily

12 weeks has been used in children and adolescents 3 months to 17 years-old

Trouble falling asleep

1 mg to 6 mg before bed

Up to 1 month

Sleep disorders in blind people

0.5 mg to 4 mg of melatonin daily

Up to 6 years

Reducing anxiety before surgery

0.05 mg/kg to 0.5 mg/kg of body weight

children 1 to 8 years-old.


You can easily find products containing lower doses of melatonin for kids, but long-term usage of melatonin in kids still requires further study. Keep in mind, although melatonin can be a helpful sleep aid for children who may have trouble sleeping, it is not a replacement for good sleep hygiene and habits. That includes consistent bedtime routines that are free of electronics at least one hour before their bedtime.11

Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

Can you OD on melatonin? Melatonin is generally safe in the short-term and has a low risk for overdose. However, because its effects can vary from person to person, you may accidentally find yourself taking too much of it as a means of overcompensation. While it likely won’t be fatal on its own, taking too much melatonin can potentially cause you to feel sleepy during unexpected and unintended times, which can be a problem if you are driving, operating heavy machinery, or otherwise in a potentially dangerous situation.

Potential symptoms of a melatonin overdose may include: 

  • Headaches

  • Crankiness

  • Anxiety

  • Dizziness

  • Diarrhea, upset stomach, and other digestive issues

  • Joint pains

If you have high blood pressure or are taking medication to keep down your blood pressure, absolutely speak to your doctor before taking melatonin. Many blood pressure medications interact with melatonin production. Taking melatonin supplements while on blood pressure medications can raise blood pressure.

So how much melatonin is too much? It’s hard to say because melatonin’s effects can be so different from person to person. If you experience any unwanted side effects, you should report them to your doctor immediately. You should seek immediate medical help if you experience shortness of breath, sudden chest pains, or extremely high blood pressure while taking melatonin.10 

Melatonin Side Effects

Side effects from melatonin are uncommon because melatonin itself is produced by the body. However, at high supra-physiologic doses you can potentially experience side effects: 

  • Daytime drowsiness

  • Vivid dreams and nightmares

  • Feelings of depression and anxiety

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Changes in blood pressure

Children most often experience morning drowsiness as a side effect of melatonin. Other common melatonin side effects in kids include:

  • Wetting the bed

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • A potential increased risk of seizure in kids who have severe neurological disorders11

Melatonin Interactions with Alcohol

Alcohol can cause some serious problems when mixed with melatonin. Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns on its own, which can potentially interfere with melatonin’s effectiveness. However, alcohol naturally acts as a depressant, meaning it slows down the central nervous system, which slows down your thinking, behaviors, and actions and makes you drowsy. Given the situation, alcohol could either strengthen or weaken the effects of melatonin. The biggest safety concerns involve:

  • Drowsiness, especially while operating machinery

  • Passing out

The combined effects can put you at a greater risk of accidents.12 Furthermore, you should avoid caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and colas, while you are taking melatonin as caffeine may counteract melatonin’s effects.11

DrFormulas® Natural Herbal Sleep Aid Pills are specially formulated to support healthy circadian rhythms and more restful sleep. Along with 1 mg melatonin dosage per capsule, each pill contains L-theanine, magnesium, and GABA to promote healthy neurologic activity while you sleep for more calm, rest, and relaxation.

Melatonin Benefits

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your pineal gland, an endocrine gland located at the base of your brain. Melatonin controls your sleep-wake cycles, or circadian rhythms, by essentially signaling to your body when it is time to go to sleep and wake up. 

Although melatonin is best known for its usage as a natural sleep remedy that supports regular circadian rhythms, it offers several other benefits as well.

1. Managing jet lag

When you’re traveling across time zones, the last thing you want is for your sleep to ruin your trip. Jet lag can work itself out as your body’s clock slowly adjusts, but supplementing with melatonin can help to jumpstart the process and reset your sleep-wake cycle.

2. Reducing free radical damage

Studies have found that melatonin acts as a powerful antioxidant that may stimulate antioxidative enzymes and improve the efficiency of other antioxidants. Antioxidants work to fight off free radicals, a natural product of oxidation that can cause cellular damage.7

3. Immune system boost

Along with its effects as an antioxidant, melatonin may help strengthen the immune system. Studies suggest that melatonin may act as an immune buffer that may stimulate immunity and ease inflammation.8

4. Relieves stress

Research show that stressful events can change melatonin levels thanks in part to the effects of cortisol, the main stress hormone. Supplementing with melatonin can help to rebalance melatonin levels and support calm.9

5. Reduces tinnitus

Tinnitus is characterized by the sensation of ringing, buzzing, hissing, or whistling in the ears. The noise can come and go, though it is often worse when surrounding background noise is low, like at night when you’re falling asleep in a quiet room. While tinnitus is generally harmless, it can be annoying and may be a symptom pointing to an underlying issue, like age-related hearing loss or injury to the ear.14 In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, adults with chronic tinnitus were given either 3 milligrams of melatonin or a placebo for 30 days, followed by a month of washout, and then 30 days with the opposite treatment. The results of this trial found that melatonin offered statistically significant decreases in the intensity of tinnitus while promoting better sleep quality for those with chronic tinnitus.15

6. Benefits the cardiovascular system

Several studies suggest that melatonin may help to promote cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and promoting more healthy cholesterol levels.16

Your body’s internal clock and the amount of light you are exposed to affect how much melatonin you create. Generally, toward the end of the day, your body naturally creates more melatonin, making you sleepy. By early morning or sunrise, your melatonin levels drop off, causing you to wake up.1

However, your melatonin can easily fluctuate based on various environmental factors. Shorter, darker days in winter can interfere with your natural sleep cycle by causing you to produce melatonin earlier than usual. Recently, blue light from computer and phone screens has become a big problem as it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, which ultimately prevents you from getting a full, restful night of sleep.2


Foods that Help and Hurt Your Sleep

1. Melatonin Rich Foods

Certain foods contain melatonin, which can cause fluctuations in your melatonin and make you feel sleepy at odd times of day. One of the best food sources of melatonin is nuts. Walnuts and pistachios are particularly melatonin-rich food. Eggs and fish have some of the highest melatonin content from animal sources.17 Other foods that contain melatonin include:

  • Grains – Oats, Corn, Barley
  • Vegetables / Roots Tomatoes, Ginger
  • Fruits – Cherries, Bananas, Pineapple

These foods can act as helpful natural sources of melatonin, along with a wide range of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can contribute to better health and wellbeing. You may consider eating melatonin foods as an alternative to taking a supplement, but measuring exact melatonin dosages through dietary sources can be difficult. Dietary sources of melatonin generally won’t yield as much melatonin as a supplement. Taking a supplement takes the guesswork out of dosage and absorption rates.

Furthermore, if you are already taking melatonin supplements, be aware of eating foods that contain melatonin. Using supplements in conjunction with too many melatonin-rich foods can increase your chance of overdose or make you feel considerably groggy and sleepy during the day.

2. Tryptophan Rich Foods

Tryptophan is an amino acid that promotes sleepiness.

  • Soy - Tofu
  • Nuts and Seeds – Roasted Pumpkins Seeds, Almonds
  • Dairy – Whole Milk

3. Vitamin B-6 –

Vitamin B-6 has been found to improve dream recall, sleep quality, and lower tireness when waking.18

  • Legumes – Lentiles, Lima Beans
  • Vegetables, Artichoke Hearts, Capsicums

Foods to avoid for Sleep

  1. Soft Drinks
  2. Coffee
  3. Energy Drinks

Melatonin plays an important role in your sleep and circadian rhythms, and it may provide other benefits to your health through its antioxidant properties and potential effects on your immune system, stress, and cardiovascular system. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial to your wellbeing. Sleep gives your brain and body time to rest, repair tissue, and get ready for the day to come. Good sleep keeps you attentive when you’re awake, ensuring that you are performing at your best.

If you or your kids need better sleep, try DrFormulas® Natural Herbal Sleep Aid, which contains a physiologic 1 mg dose of melatonin along with a blend of calming herbs and minerals. If you are concerned about the correct dose of melatonin or have general concerns about your sleep, consult your doctor.