Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Is Melatonin Bad For You?

Also Known As: N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine



Short answer

When administered properly, melatonin is not bad for you and has proven to have many benefits to the human body. There are, however, a few risks you should be aware of. Let's dig in.



Long answer

Melatonin is naturally occurring hormone that is produced in the body by the pineal gland. When Melatonin levels rise in the body, it causes you to feel tired and less alert. This naturally occurs several hours after dark. Melatonin levels remain steadily high throughout the night for about 12 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This allows you to get a good night’s sleep. Typically, it is only produced by the body when there is no light, or in a dimly lit environment.

Melatonin can be orally ingested and is sold over-the-counter in many grocery and vitamin stores. Melatonin is manufactured and sold as a supplement, and therefore, FDA regulations are not required. In order for synthetic melatonin to be an effective sleep aid, the correct dosage must be taken and at the correct time of day.

Synthetic melatonin can be taken in pill or liquid form, by swallowing it or placing a dissolvable tablet under the tongue to absorb into the body. Patches for administering melatonin are also available. This natural sleep aid is effective in reducing jet lag and regulating the sleep patterns for individuals with circadian rhythm disruptions and insomnia. The typical dose of melatonin is relatively low, one to three milligrams, but you can also purchase ten-milligram tablets as well.

It also has very few and low occurrences of adverse side effects. The most common side effects users have experienced with melatonin are ‘next day’ grogginess, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and irritability. In elderly users, it has caused reduced blood flow and hypothermia, though this is a rare occurrence. However, melatonin can negatively react with birth control drugs, blood thinners, diabetes medications, and medicines that suppress the immune system, like corticosteroids. Although these occurrences are very low, use melatonin with caution and consult your doctor before deciding to take it.

Melatonin is typically only recommended for short-term use, for no more than a few months. However, there are always cases to which the exception applies and not the rule. In the case of chronic insomnia, melatonin can greatly improve the patient’s quality of life. Again, your doctor should be approving of the long-term use of any medicine or supplement.

Melatonin is a very powerful antioxidant and has certain anti-inflammatory properties, although its effectiveness as such is unclear. It is found in some foods as a natural ingredient such as bananas, grapes, rice, cereals, plums and even beer. Melatonin has also shown to prevent and in some cases reverse the progression of illnesses like malaria, Chagas disease, and septic shock. 

It is important to point out that not all melatonin is made equally. Some melatonin is produced from animal sources and these can contain diseases that were present in the animal when the melatonin hormone was extracted from the animal’s brain. Always try to buy melatonin that is manufactured in a laboratory setting, as it is less likely to have contaminants.   

Possible short-term side effects

  • next day grogginess
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • reduced blood flow
  • hypothermia
  • interaction with other medications

Possible long-term side effects

  • dependency for sleep


  • regulates sleep cycles
  • relief of jet lag
  • reduction of stress
  • antioxidant
  • protection and treatment of some diseases

Healthier alternatives

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 04-27-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 04-27-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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