Can You Take Too Much Melatonin? How Much Can Kill You?

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Can you die from a melatonin overdose?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you have probably been trying to assist your sleep with some supplementation.

Lots of people take melatonin pills to fall asleep quicker and in a more relaxed manner when they are stressed out. What is more, a lot of them would even go over the allowed and recommended amount to induce quicker effects.

If you are one of them, you are probably asking yourself whether or not this could lead to any potentially dangerous consequences. That’s what we are going to address, so let’s skip right ahead.

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Melatonin Safety

The vast majority of people tend to believe that this supplement is a safe sleep aid. To be completely honest, the fact of the matter is that it is a well-known and safe way to tackle a range of different health condition, not just troubled sleep.

This is mainly because this is a hormone which is produced naturally by your body. It is also important to note that it isn’t nearly as powerful as a lot of the prescription assisting options out there. Even though the synthetic alternative is somewhat similar to the one which is produced in your body, it doesn’t come without its risks. Just like any other medication, you need to make sure that you are careful enough, even if it is available over the counter.

But, can you OD on melatonin?

To sum it up – melatonin is not known to be a potential cause of death, but you need to be aware that it could lead to certain complications if you overdose.

Melatonin Pill Side Effects

Daytime Sleepiness

Drowsiness is undoubtedly amongst the most visible and common side effects when it comes to overdoing it with your supplementation. The idea is that if you take this supplement at the wrong time of the day, you are likely to start feeling drowsy. This could also lead to increased risks when you are operating certain heavy machinery or when you are driving, for example.

young woman feeling sleepy and lying on her back

Hormonal Changes

You are taking a hormone – hormonal changes are bound to happen. However, this could be far more serious than you think. For instance, women who undergo pregnancy are not advised to take melatonin as it could impact the growth of their fetus in a harmful way.

It is also something that could potentially reduce the libido of both sexes. It is capable of interfering with the sperm count of men and the ovulation cycles of women. With this said, if you are trying to have a baby, you should probably stay away from this supplement.

Headaches

Another widespread consequence of taking a little bit too much of your melatonin pills is a severe headache in the morning. Keep in mind that this hormone is produced in your brain and as such, any immediate effect beyond what’s comfortable and what’s not for the body could quickly spiral into a tremendous headache.

Dizziness

Dizziness could easily come as a significant side effect of dosing off on melatonin. It could also be triggered by an allergic reaction to the supplement that promotes the production of this hormone. This is something quite unpleasant, and it is capable of severely disrupting your functioning.

Young woman feeling dizzy and pressing her forehead with her hand

Paranoia

If you take a seriously more substantial overdose, you could quickly start experiencing delusions, paranoia, confusion, hallucinations. Additionally, the feeling is being fueled by the disorientation that you get, and this is undoubtedly something that you shouldn’t be looking forward to.

Stomach Issues

This is undoubtedly one of the most common side effects of melatonin, regardless of whether you take it in a regular amount or you overdose it. You may easily experience stomach issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. These are quite unpleasant, and this is something that you don’t want to deal with.

Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety, as well as depression, are also capable of being induced by the hormone. Keep in mind that they are commonly associated with severe hormonal imbalance and sudden changes which you could go through if you started taking melatonin.

How Much Melatonin is Too Much?

How Much Should You Take?

Now, this would seriously depend on the age of the one who is taking the supplement. Usually, adults are advised to dose the product between 0.2 mg to 20.0 mg. This is, of course, depending on the purpose that you want to achieve with melatonin. Of course, people are known to take more than that without any serious issues as there are a lot of individual factors involved. So, it is best if you talk to your doctor in advance.

doctor consulting her patient

10mg Dosage

This is a dosage which is quite common and should be somewhat mild. It is usually taken to handle sleep disorders in people who are blind. The dose of 10mg is taken before bedtime, and the entire treatment usually goes for about nine weeks.

20mg Dosage

This is a formidable amount of the hormone, and it should be used for specific serious purposes. For instance, if you want to combine conventional therapy for solid tumors with melatonin, you can take up to 40mg alongside radiotherapy. Of course, medical supervision is necessary.

30mg Dosage

The 30 mg melatonin dosage is substantial. As such, it is usually used to prevent and to treat lowered clot-forming cells. This is usually associated with cancer chemotherapy. The usage of melatonin continues throughout the entire therapy.

100mg Dosage

This is a serious dosage, and it shouldn’t be used at all. With this in mind, it’s important to note that this would result in a lot of unwanted effects which could be potentially very harmful. Keep this in consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Lethal Dose of Melatonin?

Every single medicine, including this one also, has its own LD 50. In other words, this is the lethal dose which suggests that this is an amount of which at least 50% of the experimental animals (rat or mouse) would die of exposure. Melatonin is known to be relatively safe, and you wouldn’t be exposed to a tremendous risk even if you dosed 100 times higher than the recommended as even that didn’t seem to be enough to kill a single mouse.

How Long Does it Last?

The plasma half-life of the ingredient is quite short and it ranges between 20 and 50 minutes. This means that there is absolutely no advantage of taking a dose which is higher before you go to bed. It is better for you to rely on a long-acting tablet. This, however, is likely to increase the risk of waking up quite moody. The best way to go about it is to experiment as every individual reacts differently.

Why Do People Take Melatonin?

Melatonin is the hormone released by our brains once we fall asleep and it is actively used to handle a range of different conditions. Apart from the regular sleep-related ones, melatonin is also known for being particularly useful in various cancer treatments as an additional ingredient to use through chemotherapy, for instance.

close-up of the pill in the hand

Is Melatonin Habit Forming?

Melatonin tablets are regarded as supplements which are not habit forming, and they are not addictive. With this in mind, you should be feeling free to use them when you need it. Of course, overdoing it means that you would undoubtedly experience certain side effects which are regarded above and are rather unpleasant.

Should Children take it?

There are a lot of pediatricians as well as parents who would use melatonin quite freely when it comes to children. This is intended to help them handle specific sleep problems, and it is a known and reputed approach to handling issues of the kind.

What Should You Do if Consume Too Much?

The most responsible thing to do is to go ahead and call your doctor. Keep in mind, though, that it’s quite hard to overdose on melatonin as the substance indeed is rather mild. This is why you might also be better off by just waiting it out.

Our Final Thoughts


Melatonin is something that we genuinely need. As such, if you want to supplement the production of the hormone, you should most definitely do so as there are quite a lot of benefits when it comes to it.

Additionally, melatonin is regarded as something entirely safe, and the side effects aren’t as easy to manifest. While they are truly present in certain situations, the majority of people would experience only the desired results, which is quite substantial. The ingredient is so safe that pediatricians, as well as parents, use it freely to handle sleep problems in children. You know that one product is safe when you could use it in kids without a lot of issues and tremendous precautions.

Sources and References:

  1. Melatonin and Sleep – sleepfoundation.org
  2. Rest easy: MIT study confirms melatonin's value as sleep aid – news.mit.edu

More Reading:

Author: Jill Thompson

I've been self-employed for almost four years and I would not change it for anything! I believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right attitude and determination.

I'm an avid traveler (25+ countries and counting) that loves to meet new people doing amazing things.

When I'm not researching for the Sleep Advisor, you can find me reading, running, traveling, golfing, or meditating.

I wish you the very best on your journey!

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