So many people have a problem getting to sleep, and it’s usually due to the fact we live a pretty fast and stressful life. And it’s quite often they find taking pills based on melatonin as a solution to this problem. Now, the question is how dangerous this can be, and can you overdose on melatonin? We consulted on this matter with some experts and came to some conclusions we are not going to lay out for you. So if you are curious about this subject or worried you may overstep some recommended boundaries, keep on reading.
How safe is melatonin?
You can find so many over-the-counter supplements that have melatonin as their main ingredient, and people tend to use them when having trouble sleeping or when facing jet lag. Melatonin-based pills are one of the most popular sleeping aids in the world, and there are indications that by the end of next year, we will generate 1.5 billion in revenue just by buying this sort of medication.
So it’s more than certain that this subject is spot on. But how safe consuming melatonin actually is? In general, melatonin is defined to be a relatively safe supplement, but the fact it’s been banned in some courtiers like an OTC drug makes us wonder how valid this claim is. In Japan, Canada, UK, Australia, and some European Union parts, you can get melatonin pills only if they were prescribed to you. The reason may lie in the fact melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that’s tied to the circadian rhythm, and its additional intake is probably not so harmless as intake of other over-the-counter supplements that come only from minerals, vitamins, and plants.
What is worrying is that some research showed that the dosage of melatonin in some supplementations is often not the one labeled on the bottle. In fact, it’s established that in some cases, it was almost up to 500 percent higher, or 80 percent lower than what was written. Also, you need to bear in mind that even though our bodies are producing the hormone melatonin, it’s not the same as the one we ingest through medicine, so there have to be some risks.
If you wonder what happens if you take too much melatonin, it’s certain that it can lead to you experiencing some side effects. That’s especially the case with people with diabetes or prediabetes conditions, pregnant women, people with allergies, or those who are already taking some hormone-based therapy. But when it comes to the main question – can you od on melatonin, the answer is no, you cannot. That means that you won’t die from melatonin overdose, at least it’s not known that melatonin can be a cause of death. But there are consequences and complications too much melatonin in the system can cause.
Side effects of melatonin overdose
There’s a huge chance you will experience daytime sleepiness if you overdo your melatonin supplementation. That’s the most common side effect when it comes to this problem, and it can completely disrupt your daytime routines. This usually happens if you take a pill of melatonin at the wrong time of the day. That fatigue and drowsiness that will arise can be quite dangerous, especially if you have to drive or operate some heavy machinery in your workplace.
Another side effect of taking too much melatonin pills is hormonal change. Given melatonin is a hormone you are consuming throughout supplementation, there’s no doubt that it can make some shifts and disrupt your overall hormone balance. And even if it doesn’t look like it, that too can be pretty dangerous. According to some research, the hormonal change caused by intaking a high dosage of melatonin can delay puberty. Other than that, it can reduce libido and lower the sperm count of men, as well as interfere with the ovulation cycles of a woman.
It can happen if you take way too many melatonin pills to suddenly experience some serious dizziness. That may not be dangerous per se, but if you unexpectedly fall or if that happens while you are behind the wheel, things could get really serious. You could harm yourself as well as others.
Many people who consumed too much melatonin via supplementation reported feeling excruciating headaches in the morning. As you probably suspect, that’s not something that can endanger you, but it can disrupt your regular lifestyle severely. The fact is, our brain is already producing this hormone, and if you take pills and have more of it than your organism needs, it can lead to creating chemical imbalances in your body. And that can cause strong headaches.
Now, no matter if you overdosed on melatonin or you simply took it regularly in the appropriate amount, you should expect to experience some stomach issues like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and etc. It’s not something that should scare you, but it can be quite unpleasant, especially when you are in your workplace. Stomach problems are another common side effect of melatonin usage.
Except for these physical side effects, taking too much melatonin can lead to having psychological ones too. This is not something that happens that often, but it can be really scary. In case you intake too much melatonin supplementation, it can happen for you to experience paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and serious confusion. We already mentioned possible chemical imbalance in your brain, and given melatonin is connected to other neurotransmitters that affect our mood and behavior, this is what can occur as a consequence.
Anxiety and depression
It’s not that surprising that people with messed hormonal balance can face anxiety or even depression. It is already proven that taking a higher dosage of melatonin can lead to hormonal change, so this is something you can definitely expect. And even though you will most certainly get past it at some point, those states can and probably will interfere with your life and business schedule.
How much melatonin should you take?
Even though the perfect dosage of melatonin is individual for every person given it depends on the age, weight, and the level of the problem that particular man or woman is trying to solve, the experts came to a conclusion that the most effective and safest dosage is somewhere between 0.3 and 10 mg of melatonin. So it would be best to consult with your doctor how much supplement of this kind you should take, and how often. The 10 mg of melatonin is the highest dosage people should use when dealing with sleep deprivation. Everything above that needs to be supervised by the specialists.
What is a melatonin lethal dose?
The lethal dose of any medicine is LD 50, and it’s determined when 50 percent of the subjects who consumed a specific dosage died from it. But when it comes to melatonin LD 50 was not established, which means that even very high dosages were not proven to be a cause of death.
How long does the effect of melatonin last?
How long will the effect of melatonin last can be determined by the half-life of the medication? For melatonin, it’s 20 to 50 minutes, which means that after that period of time, half of the dosage will remain in the person’s system. That implies furthermore that melatonin can help you fall asleep, but it cannot guarantee you will stay asleep or that you will have a good quality of rest.
Is melatonin addictive or habit forming?
Supplements based on melatonin cannot cause addiction, and they are not habit-forming. But it should not be consumed longer than two weeks. If something like that happens, you should consider visiting a specialist that can establish what causes your inability to fall asleep and decide on further treatment. But in general, it’s safe for short-term usage.
What should I do if I take too much melatonin?
In case you experience some serious side effects and you suspect you overdosed on melatonin, you should call your doctor or poison control center to see what your next step should be. But you should remain calm because there are no reports of people being intoxicated by this sort of supplementation.
What can happen if I take melatonin with another medication?
Using melatonin supplements is considered to be safe, but it can happen that it interacts with some other drugs, like with ones used for blood pressure, blood thinners, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, etc. But that doesn’t mean this can lead to some serious consequences, especially not those that are life-threatening. Certainly, our recommendation is to consult with your doctor about whether or not you should be taking melatonin and in what dosage if you are regularly taking some other medications.
We assume that the reason you read these lines above is hidden behind the question – can melatonin kill you. And we made sure to explain to you that it can’t. But that doesn’t mean you should take this subject lightly and continue to take melatonin pills like candy whenever you feel like it. Taking any sort of medicine and supplementation has its own rules, and they are there for a reason – to protect you. So make sure to take this seriously and adjust the dosage of melatonin if you established you had crossed the line at some point. The best would be to talk to your doctor about it and see what he has to say and recommend.