vitafusion melatonin sleep aidHave you taken more than the recommended dosage of melatonin and are worried about what might happen to you?

Taking a melatonin overdose isn’t known to cause death, but it can cause some unpleasant side effects.

In this article, you’ll find out what dosage sleep experts recommend, and what side effects can arise from taking melatonin.

Related: Does melatonin work if you have insomnia?

Is melatonin safe?

Many people view melatonin as a safe sleep aid because it’s a hormone produced naturally by the body. And it doesn’t provide the strong knockout effect that many prescription sleep aids do.

Even though synthetic melatonin is similar to that produced in your body, it doesn’t come without risks though.

Like many medications, you still need to be careful – even if it’s available over the counter in your country.

How much is an overdose?

lots of melatonin pills on a table that looks like an overdoseIf we define ‘overdose’ as an amount which is too much and usually dangerous, there isn’t a clear answer.

There are reports of people taking just a few milligrams and feeling unwell; others have taken hundreds of milligrams and been absolutely fine.

Melatonin seems to affect people differently, with no known dosage threshold that would definitely cause anybody serious harm. A second issue is that melatonin doesn’t have an official recommended dosage in many countries.

That said, most doctors and researchers say you should take no more than 5 mg a day in most cases. And preferably even less if it’s taken for sleep problems.

Why isn’t there a standard recommended dosage?

Melatonin is marketed and sold as a dietary supplement or natural remedy. So it hasn’t undergone the rigorous testing of organizations such as the Food and Drugs Administration in the United States.

That means there’s no central body responsible for setting a recommended dosage.

What do the sleep experts recommend?

The National Sleep Foundation – one of the leading sources of sleep advice in the U.S. – recommends that you start with the smallest possible dose for insomnia and occasional sleeplessness.

Their current advice is:

Between two tenths of a milligram and five milligrams 60 minutes before bedtime is a typical dose for adults, while children should take a smaller dose. Too much melatonin can disrupt your sleep cycle so start with the smallest dose of two tenths of a milligram and increase it as needed.

Is melatonin safe at these low doses?

Research in 2005 concluded that there is evidence that taking melatonin at low doses is safe for periods of 3 months or less.

More recently, the Mayo Clinic also stated that it’s only usually recommended for short-term use – up to two months.

Even at these low doses, however, you may still experience side effects. Safe doesn’t necessarily mean no side effects – it just means that it probably won’t cause most people any serious problems.

Melatonin supplements might contain other ingredients

A potential problem to bear in mind is the actual ingredients in supplements bought over the counter.

Research published in the journal of clinical sleep medicine in November 2017 illustrates that you might not be getting what’s written on the label.

The researchers looked at 31 different brands of melatonin. They found that in 71% of the brands, the stated quantity was incorrect by more than 10%. And 26% of the melatonin pills also contained serotonin.

What might happen if you take a melatonin overdose?

seek help if you take a melatonin overdoseSo what happens if you have a bottle of 3 mg melatonin pills with instructions to take one before bed, but you take more?

It might be that you take the right dosage just before going to bed, think it isn’t working, and so take an extra one.

Or perhaps you wake up in the middle of the night and take another one to help you go back to sleep.

Although this might not result in serious harm, it’s not the right way or safest way to use melatonin.

Don’t keep increasing the dosage

The more you take, the more likely it is that you’ll experience unpleasant side effects. And importantly, if 3 mg didn’t help you sleep, another 3 mg an hour later is unlikely to make a difference.

There’s no medical advice or research stating what would happen if you took a very high dose of melatonin. However, it’s not advisable to experiment with higher doses to try and achieve a stronger effect.

Whatever dose you take, if you experience side effects, you should seek medical attention.

And if you or someone you know takes more than the recommended amount, intentionally or by accident, please seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Possible melatonin side effects

Although most people tolerate melatonin well, there are several side effects that can occur even at lower doses.

1. Daytime drowsiness

It might sound obvious, but a key effect is of course drowsiness. It might be a problem if you take it when you’re not planning on going to sleep, or if you still feel drowsy when you wake up.

This could increase the risk of accidents if driving or operating heavy machinery.

2. Hormonal changes

The effects of taking a synthetic hormone can be serious in some cases. For example, pregnant women are advised not to take melatonin as it might have negative effects on fetus growth.

It can also reduce the libido of both men and women, as well as interfere with women’s ovulation and men’s sperm count. So if you’re trying to get pregnant, you should avoid melatonin.

Although the long-term effects on people are still relatively unknown, there’s evidence that it can have negative consequences for animals. As researchers in 2015 stated:

It is known to have profound effects on the reproductive systems of rodents, sheep and primates, as well as effects on the cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems

3. Mood changes

woman feeling ill after taking a melatonin overdoseYou may experience a range of mood changes, such as sadness, worsening depression or even feeling over-excitable.

If you suffer from any kind of depressive illness, you should avoid melatonin unless your doctor recommends it.

4. Hallucinations, paranoia, and disorientation

If you take a large overdose of melatonin, you might experience hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, confusion or paranoia.

5. Increase in vivid dreams and unusual sleep behavior

People often report that they have very vivid dreams when taking larger amounts of melatonin. It can also increase the frequency of sleep disorders such as sleepwalking and nightmares.

6. Physiological effects

Melatonin has been found to have various effects on the body. This includes lowering blood pressure, or conversely raising it if you’re taking drugs to control it. It may have effects on blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

It can also bring about further problems for type 1 diabetics. This is due to a reduction in tolerance to insulin as well as increasing blood sugar levels.

7. Risk of seizures

This is a particular risk if you have any existing kind of seizure disorder. Again this can be potentially serious and another good reason to be careful with how much you take.

8. Nausea and other stomach problems

This is one of the more common side effects of melatonin, even at low doses. You may experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pains or diarrhea.

9. Risks to infants through breastfeeding

Mothers who are breastfeeding should avoid melatonin unless recommended by a doctor.

10. Allergic reaction

In some rare cases, you may experience an allergic reaction to melatonin. This could result in a rash, swelling of any parts of the face, tongue or throat, itching, dizziness and trouble breathing.

You should seek immediate emergency medical help if these symptoms occur.

11. Increased risk of contracting immune system disorders

Melatonin may increase the risk of contracting autoimmune disorders such as hepatitis or Crohn’s disease. For this reason, people who already have an autoimmune disorder should consult a doctor before taking melatonin.

12. Risk of liver damage

There’s thought to be an increased risk of liver damage. This is another reason people who have problems with alcohol misuse should consult a doctor before taking it.

Interactions with other drugs

Melatonin can interact with other drugs, so you should consult a doctor if you’re taking, or planning on taking any of the following:

  • Blood thinners, such as warfarin or heparin.
  • Blood pressure medicine, such as nifedipine.
  • Drugs to prevent seizures.
  • Drugs which affect your immune system.
  • Psychiatric medications, especially antipsychotics or anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines.
  • Anything containing caffeine or alcohol.
  • Anything which can make you drowsy, such as sedatives, some cough medicines and anti-histamines, muscle relaxants, other sleeping pills and some painkillers – especially narcotics.
  • Medication for diabetes.
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox), which can decrease the amount of melatonin your body can absorb and increase the risk of side effects.
  • Medication that slows blood clotting (anticoagulants).

For an extensive list of medications which can interact with melatonin, have a look at the webmd.com article.

Conclusion

It is possible to overdose on melatonin – if by overdose you mean feel unwell. But what might happen, if anything at all, is impossible to predict.

As with most substances, the symptoms may vary from one person to the next. Melatonin isn’t known to cause death but might make some people feel unwell.

You can see that there’s a long list of potentially harmful effects of taking melatonin. And there are also additional risks for certain groups of people.

So even though it’s available over the counter in some countries, it’s wise to speak to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to take based on your personal medical history.

And once again, if you do take a melatonin overdose, please seek emergency medical help straight away.

645 thoughts on “Can You Overdose On Melatonin?”

    1. Hi Brenda
      I would call a doctor or emergency services, whichever you have access to in your part of the world just to be one the safe side and get proper medical advice.
      Regards
      Ethan

    1. Hi Tyler
      It’s not my place to tell you what dosage is safe for you. My advice would be to stay within the dosage level the manufacturer states on the pack you buy. And to consult a doctor if you want to try a higher dosage.
      Regards
      Ethan

    2. I would say absolutely DO NOT take 30 mg of melatonin. I have been taking 5 mg and sometime in Nov, I started feeling abnormally cold. My thermostat is set on 69-70 and I’ve noticed that later in the day no matter how many layers I put on, I get so cold that I start shaking. Yesterday I heard someone on TV say that her mother was taking melatonin and her body temp dropped and she was shaking all the time. I knew my body temp has been lower than normal so I stopped melatonin last night. Yesterday my temp was 97.5 and today it’s up to 97.8. I feel less cold today but still not normal. When I saw a PCP in Sep my temp was 96.5 but I wasn’t cold then because the weather was hot. At one time I was taking 10 mg because the store was out of 5 mg and now I think I must have been taking 10 mg when I saw the doc in Sep. I also have low platelet count and I read something about melatonin anemia so I wonder if that’s the cause.

  1. Charlotte Stirling Lapp

    I am 58 yo. I have been on different sleeping pills over the years in combination with other serious meds. I lost my husband in ’04 and it completely messed up my world as well as my health. I had problems with anxiety and sometimes felt myself dealing with depression adding to my already existing problems. I had seriously been injured in a MVA in 2000, had 3 surgeries. L3,4 &5 spinal fusion surgery. The last one being in ’02. That one was to remove some of the hardware compressing on the sciatic system on that side (right). This was supposed to be a decompression of the nerves there and bring comfort. It didn’t work! It was sooo much worse. I just couldn’t live in that pain and constant burning anymore. I’ve been on some pretty serious narcotics and had over 64 different procedures (injections, nerve blocks etc…) for permanent nerve pain and burning in my right leg, hip and especially in my foot. My right foot was always 4 or 5 degrees colder than my left according to the temp stickers they placed on my feet for each visit which sometimes last up to an hour or longer. I am going out of state for help.The burning was so horrific! I continued to be committed to my responsibilities of working all 3 jobs after a recovery time. After years, I finally gave into taking the narcotics among other drugs all prescribed by the surgeon. All related to the serious cronic pain and problems after the last back surgery. I had changed in so many ways that my life ended up in permanent disability. Until that time I had a full life of 3 jobs. Working everyday going 14 years without missing a day of work until this injury. I was a very active person. I thought I had a full life raising my 2 children. I wanted to be free from taking this poison everyday for the rest of my life. I wasn’t myself and wasn’t ever feeling clearheaded. June ’17, I requested a detox and rehab at a hospital staying only 14 days because of insurance. I got off all narcotics but by this time (actually years before) I had developed a very serious anxiouty and panic disorder. I was completely unable to control in spite of trying many, many different types of treatment including hypnosis and acupuncture. I was and still am in serious conditioun with these problems EACH AND EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE including today! After rehab, I went back on Xanax but quite a lower dose. I actually went from taking 5 mgs of Niravam which is an ODT method (desolve under tongue) of generic Xanax per day, 1mg per dose as needed. I developed an unhealthy sleeping habit. I simply slept when I was tired and still had problems falling asleep. Now, I take .05mg of Niravam only 3 times a day and it doesn’t come close to meeting my needs. I took a bad fall on concrete in Oct ’16 breaking my clavacal and tore arteries in my heart and created a blood clotting problem. I had a very serious heart surgery called a THROMBECTOMY of descending aorta with 20 MM hemashield graft on 10/17/16. This could take my life in a heartbeat and I know that. But, I have problems with falling asleep or even being tired. I have allowed my ex husband (whom I dislike and do not trust) to move into my home when he had no where else to go after a house fire and it was to be temporary, 6 months or so in ’11. He is still here! We fight EVERYDAY! He never shuts up. If its not the spitting noises (I guess he has a sinus problem), to the loud yawning at the other end of my home, loud noises he makes just moving around MY home everyday to the constant breaking things and not accepting responsibility for anything. He has serious hearing loss problems which he won’t try to deal with at age 65 yo, and NO respect for me what so ever! I don’t use foul language or swear at all. He swears at me constantly even upon my request of him NOT to use that language in my home or pressence. I am a very spiritual person, he is not. Also, my son, his fiance’ and their baby were evicted and I also let them come stay with me about 4 1/2 yrs ago. Since then, they split up, leaving him here and he sees his daughter nearly everyday as well as her spending the night 4 to 5 nights a week. He does not work or go outside the walls of my home in years. He has a child support warrent he’s running from. All this isn’t helping me at all. I want them all to move out. Father, son and my 5 yo granddaughter can be together. I need to be alone. I’ve lived alone many years and for my piece of mind I NEED TO NOW! My exhusband has NEVER been on his own. When I divorced him 33 years ago, he went straight to his parents home and remained there till moving here in ’11. He has not dated either. He is 65 yo and owns nothing but an older car (financed), clothing and shoes. He has absolutely nothing to his name. I need to start looking out for myself and I can’t seem to get any of their help in doing so. My son makes me feel guilty for putting them out. And it works for them every time. I have been under a lot of stress EVERYDAY! I have used melatonin in past years occasionally. Now, in the past 3 weeks I started taking 3mg. It worked for a few nights. After a week or so, I moved up to 5mg. It worked for a few days and I started taking 10mg. That didn’t last long either. Last night I took 15mg for the 1st time. I went to sleep finally about 2:30-2:45am and had horrid dreams that woke me while speaking out loud, but I continued to sleep till 3:30 this afternoon. I finally slept, but far too long. What advice can you offer me at this time? ALSO, BECAUSE OF MY HEART SURGERY AND MY BREATHING STOPS WHILE I SLEEP, I’M ON OXYGEN 24/7. Please offer any help or advice you can. I’ve included so much of my health and personal situations only because I know this stuff is contributing to my sleep problems. PLEASE HELP ME!
    Sincerely,
    Charlotte

    1. Hi Charlotte
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear you’ve been having such a difficult time, and for so long. I don’t want to offer you advice on your medication because you have quite a complex situation, and it’s not my place to do so. The only thing I would say about the melatonin is that continually increasing the dosage is unlikely to suddenly make it work better, and if you have side effects like you did, it’s perhaps not the best solution for you. But really, this is something you would get better advice from your own doctor or physician for. I would also recommend speaking to them about how you feel in your home, especially if you don’t feel comfortable and secure there due to his behaviour towards you. Everyone should be able to feel safe in their home. So if you don’t, I would reach out to organisations that can support you in tackling this. There are many women’s support organisations, for example, that can provide advice and support in times of feeling threatened.
      Regards
      Ethan

    2. Omg! You poor women..you need to get all of the people out of your home before they put you in your grave! Be strong..their going to keep doing whatever you let them do..they obviously have no respect for you so why would you worry about what they think. Put them out!! They’ll be mad for a while but eventually one day they’ll get over it and have more respect for you..also I believe your health will improve as well as your sanity. Best wishes!

  2. Hello,
    I’ve had problems with going to bed since I was 12. I started taking Melatonin about a year ago with one or two 10mg tablets and pretty rapidly increased my dose to about 40-60 mg a night. Its the only way for me to fall asleep at this point. I have stopped taking it multiple times but i would go days without sleeping. I have not noticed any negative effects from the amount i take, well except my bodies complete reliance on the drug for sleep.
    Should i be worried?
    how can i eventually wean my body off?
    Nick

    1. Hi Nicholas
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern, but it’s a tricky question to answer. There are people who say they’ve taken melatonin for years and had no problems. But then again, medical experts usually say that over the counter sleep aids shouldn’t be taken for more than a couple of weeks. And if your sleep doesn’t improve, then you should consult a doctor rather than continuing to take them indefinitely. I would suggest doing some research into the kind of positive sleep habits that experts talk about. You could try slowly reducing your dosage and increasing how much attention you pay to your sleep habits and see if that helps. But if you can access medical advice, I would also do that considering how long your sleep has been an issue.

  3. I have been taking 40 mg of chewable melatonin. It helps with getting maybe 2 hrs of sleep. I’m an alcoholic with wine at night but been sober for 8 months and in the last 4 days I’ve only had maybe 6 hours of sleep. My Dr, apt is next Monday but I have the worst nightmares n can’t go back to sleep, I am active all day but exhausted by 8:00 p.m. But still can’t sleep, ive tried prescribed meds like ambien, colonipan, aditvan etc, but still can’t sleep. Any recommendations?

    1. Hi there
      I wonder if the melatonin is causing the nightmares. Did you used to get them before you took melatonin? If it only helps you get 2 hours sleep, and causes nightmares, I’d personally question what good it’s doing you. This is something to discuss with your doctor – if none of those sleep aid helped, maybe there is something going on that needs to be explored.
      Regards
      Ethan

    2. The not sleeping with nightmares when you do get a bit here and there are side effects of not drinking alcohol. I’m an alcoholic. It can take a long time for your body to adjust depending on how much and how long you’ve been drinking. Keep up the sobriety, exercise and try and keep a steady/balanced life and it should eventually fall into place.

  4. My Son takes one 5mg of melatonin before bed. He is 10.5 yrs and 70lbs. He is on ADHD Meds and Anxiety meds. He has much difficulty falling a sleep. It works like a charm…however, he is completely lethargic in the mornings. I know his usual wake up time is between 7-9am. We get up so early at 5:30am to start our day. I just cant getting him moving to get ready for daycare/school. This problem had increased the last 2 years along with the onset of puberty. I am wondering if the melatonin regiment is fine. I have tried now morning showers and calisetics drills to help him get the blood moving.

    1. Hi Lee
      Thanks for your comment. I think considering his diagnosis and the fact that he takes multiple meds, it’s important to talk this through with your family doctor. You might be right about the meds causing the lethargy, but it’s a balance a doctor needs to look at more closely.
      Regards
      Ethan

  5. I have horrible insomnia. I take 100 mg Unisom, 3 Tylenol PMs and 20 mg melatonin and still wake up all night. I’m thinking about upping to 30 melatonin.
    When I had insurance I was taking 1 1/2 pills of ambien plus 50-100mg unisom most nights and still didn’t sleep all the way through the night. I don’t think anything is strong enough to knock me out.

    1. Hi Michelle
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t personally think upping your dosage of melatonin will make much difference – at least not in my experience and from what I’ve read about the effectiveness of increasing doses. You might be better off trying some natural techniques. Have you experimented much with sleep hygiene techniques etc?
      Regards
      Ethan

  6. I raised my dosage from 5mg to 15mg under the tongue in an effort to profoundly change my sleeping schedule and to do it quickly. It had an unexpected very beneficial side effect. For some time I’ve had to drink two bottles of Magnesium Citrate to produce a bowel movement. I had been doing that once a week. Without it I would only have a bowel movement twice per month. Believe me that is a very painful experience. Since increasing the dosage my bowel movement frequency has gone to one per day or more often. I was planning to reduce the dosage once my sleeping schedule was readjusted, but the unexpected side effect makes that unlikely.

    1. Hi Darryl
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’d be happy about the effect. I’d suggest talking to your doctor about it though, as it’s not a typical use of melatonin.
      Regards
      Ethan

  7. So I took two melatonin pills (5mg each) and I weigh less than 100 but more than 90 lbs. just wondering if that might be a problem…

  8. Hello, I had 3 tablets of melatonin (each being 3mg) this is the third time I’ve used them and I’m concerned if 3 may be too many? Two worked out fine the night before and I was just a bit sleepy in the morning but a drank some water and took it easy and I was fine. I poured two into my hand but three ended up falling out and I continued to toss them into my mouth without realizing so now I’m just concerned if I’ll have crazy dreams or any of those bad side effects. I’m 16 by the way and I have many issues sleeping, my friend suggested I pick up melatonin at the store so I did.

    1. Hi Shannon
      Thanks for your comment. Hopefully you were fine, as I see you wrote this a couple of days ago. In the future, if you ever take more medicine, of any kind, than you should do, I would contact your doctor immediately. I’d also talk to your family and/or doctor about taking the melatonin considering your age.
      Regards
      Ethan

  9. Melatonin is used in high doses to help suppress tumor growth in some cancer patients. Seems safe to me for everyday use.

  10. Hi, glad I came about this website. I have been taking 10mg of Melatonin every night for the last year. My menstrual cycle has completely stopped for just over a year now, gained 20 pounds, dont sleep well, moody, and have anxiety. I am 48, so I know its probably menopause. Could Melatonin actually be the cause of this also? I did see that it can effect your hormones, libido. Now Im wondering if I should just stop taking it all together. I never knew it could have these side effects. I did see my doctor and he wants me on estrogen pills. However, I refuse because of all of the side effects.
    Thank you,
    Dawn

    1. Hi Dawn
      Thanks for your comment. I guess it’s hard to tell what, if anything, is being caused by the melatonin rather than menopause. What did your doctor say about the quantity and length of time you’ve been taking it? If you don’t sleep well, then I’d question taking it at all personally.
      Regards
      Ethan

  11. I literally have been taking 30mg (3x10mg) per night for the last year. I do have some vivid and crazy dreams, but otherwise I don’t see it being a problem. When I only take 20mg I find myself not falling asleep as quickly or as good.

    1. Hi Lori
      Thanks for your comment. It does appear that some people can tolerate a higher dosage with no apparent problems. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right dosage though. Have you talked it through with your personal doctor, or are you getting it over the counter?
      Regards
      Ethan

  12. I just took 20 melatonin 5mg pills, my family is asleep and I have no idea if I should be waking them up. I feel completely fine but I’m worried that it will do something, anything I should be doing?

    1. Hi Myra
      By the time you read this reply, hopefully you’ll be fine. I don’t know why you took 20, but I can only assume it wasn’t an accident. I think it’s very important that you talk to your family and/or an adult you trust, such as a doctor or teacher, about how you’re feeling, what you did, and talk about what’s going on for you.
      Regards
      Ethan

    1. Hi Ryan
      By the time you read this, it will probably be out of your system and you’re fine. But if you feel unwell, speak to a doctor.
      Regards
      Ethan

  13. How much melatonin would it take to have extreme side effects on a 12-year old girl? my little sister has been taking 20 mg a night for the past few weeks and I’m starting to get worried

    1. Hi Aki
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, that’s an impossible question to answer. Have you spoken to your family about your worries to see what they say? Do you know if a doctor prescribed this amount and for this long?
      Regards
      Ethan

  14. Can taking too much Melatonin cause your teeth to become very sensitive to cold and your lips and tongue to go numb? I have been taking 20 mgs before bedtime. I still don’t sleep more than 4-5 hours.

    1. Hi Linda
      Thanks for your comment. Numbness around the lips and tongue is sometimes a sign of an allergic reaction. I would stop taking them until you can ask your doctor about it to clarify if it’s connected and what you should do.
      Regards
      Ethan

  15. After reading this article and the comments, I want to try other natural supplements for sleep. I tried Valerian root but it had no effect. Any other recommendations?

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