- Does melatonin work? Melatonin supplements can help you fall asleep when taken before bedtime (30 to 60 minutes before for regular pills; 20 minutes before for fast-dissolve pills, chewables, and liquids and chewables). Melatonin may also alleviate certain types of stomach pain and reduce anxiety associated with medical procedures (see What It Does).
- How much melatonin to take: Melatonin is a hormone; use it only as needed, not every night. Try the lowest dose that will work for you, starting with about 1 mg or less. If that doesn't work, try 3 mg. Some products contain greater amounts, such as 5 or 10 mg, which may be more than you need and can leave you groggy and have other negative effects. Timed release products may help you not just fall asleep but also stay asleep, but they won't help you stay asleep as well as a prescription sleep medication (see ConsumerTips: What to Consider When Using).
- What did CL's tests of melatonin supplements show? In laboratory testing, one melatonin supplement was Not Approved, as it contained nearly twice its listed amount of melatonin. Our cost comparisons showed you could spend as little as 1 cent to over $5 per milligram of melatonin -- and the product that failed was among the more expensive products. (see What CL Found).
- Best melatonin supplements? Among 22 CL Approved products, CL selected Top Picks for low, moderate, high-dose and timed release melatonin, as well as a product for pets. These products represent superior quality and value.
- Melatonin safety and side effects: Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be generally safe for adults. However, melatonin can potentially affect blood pressure as well as testosterone and estrogen levels. Melatonin can also interact with certain foods and medications. Long-term use is associated with an increased risk of bone fracture. It is probably best to use melatonin "as needed" rather than on a regular basis (see Concerns and Cautions).