If you deal with occasional or consistent insomnia, you may have considered melatonin gummies. If you even started searching for products, you’re also probably inundated with ads for these colorful, tasty gummies.
However, before you go buying a product willy-nilly, you really should have an understanding of how these gummies work and how to use them safely, especially if you are considering giving melatonin gummies to kids. In this article, we’ll give you a complete overview of melatonin gummies, including who should take them, important safety tips, and the possible side effects.
Learn more:Melatonin Guide
What Are Melatonin Gummies?
Melatonin gummies are a specific type of melatonin supplement in which melatonin is provided in the form of a chewable gummy. Melatonin can come in all kinds of forms, but gummies are one of the more popular choices. They also have the benefit of being chewable and tasty, which might make taking them easier for some people.
Like other forms of melatonin, these gummies provide extra melatonin in the hopes of helping people sleep better. Typically, our bodies naturally produce melatonin in response to darkness1 to help facilitate sleep, but for those who struggle to help, adding more melatonin through supplementation may help support this process more. According to research2, melatonin has shown “positive effects on sleep quality.”
Explore: Best Melatonin Supplements
How Do Melatonin Gummies Work?
After you chew up and swallow your melatonin gummies, they’ll make their way through the digestive system, and then the melatonin from the gummies is processed in the liver.1 This is what is called “first pass metabolism3,” and this happens with any sort of drug or supplement ingested orally.
As it moves through these bodily systems, some of the melatonin from the gummy will be lost in the process. This means that less melatonin will make it into your bloodstream and have an effect on you. It is also why things taken orally take a bit of time to start working – they must go through this process before the substance enters your bloodstream.3
How Long Do Melatonin Gummies Take to Work?
Once the melatonin enters your bloodstream, it should begin to take effect, making you feel a bit sleepier. About one hour4 after ingestion, your melatonin levels should be at their highest, and between one and two hours5 after ingestion, you should feel sleepy.
Keep in mind, that melatonin is not a sleeping pill; it won’t make you fall asleep immediately or “pass out.” You can also help improve its effectiveness by dimming the lights and putting away any blue light devices like cell phones or computers since light exposure can block melatonin production.1
How Long Do Melatonin Gummies Last?
Melatonin gummies tend to immediately release the melatonin into the system all at once and should be completely out of your system within four to eight hours.4 This range depends on the quality of the product, your dosage, and your metabolism.
Conversely, there are extended-release melatonin pills that can gradually release the melatonin throughout the night. Since gummies are just chewed up and digested, there isn’t a surefire way to make sure the supplement or medication they contain is released slowly into the system. They can’t have the same special outer coatings or encapsulation techniques that a swallowable tablet or capsule might.
Who Should Take Melatonin Gummies?
People With Jet Lag
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine6 (AASM), melatonin is the most effective at treating circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including jet lag. You should take it two hours8 before your desired bedtime in the location you’re traveling to, a few days before you depart.
Shift workers who must work during the night and sleep during the day can benefit from melatonin.6 One study showed that melatonin patches9 are particularly effective for shift workers, but if you prefer gummies, they should be as effective as melatonin pills, if you buy a good brand.
Those with Sleep-Wake Phase Disorders
A sleep-wake phase disorder is a sleep disorder that impacts your body’s natural bedtime and wake-up time, either making them too early (advanced), too late (delayed), or free-running (non-24 sleep-wake phase disorder.)6 In all of these instances, taking melatonin gummies one to two hours before your desired bedtime can help retrain your body’s sleep schedule.5, 6
Those with Occasional Insomnia
If you deal with occasional sleepless nights, melatonin can be a good tool to help you get to sleep. Take it one or two hours before your desired bedtime, and remember to dim the lights and put away your screens. Since anxiety is a major cause of insomnia9 (and insomnia is a major cause of anxiety), be sure you’re doing something that calms you down before bed.
If you need support for chronic insomnia, experts recommend10 cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as an effective, long-term solution.
People Who Want to Avoid Swallowing Pills
Melatonin gummies are a good choice for both children and adults who can’t swallow pills well. Gummies tend to taste good, and you’ll chew them up, just like you might a piece of candy. That said, because they are so much like candy, be sure to keep them out of reach of children who may eat too many and experience side effects.
Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Research shows that melatonin supplements can help treat sleep issues11 in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). While most children are advised to stick to a maximum of three weeks12 of melatonin, the research suggests that long-term melatonin use may be beneficial to children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
That said, your child should take melatonin under the guidance of their pediatrician.
Learn More: Melatonin Dosage for Kids
People Who Are Not Sensitive to Sugar
Melatonin gummies are going to contain a sweetener of some kind, which can be a problem for certain people13, like those with diabetes or predisposed to diabetes, as well as people with heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, or chronic inflammation. If you otherwise limit your sugar intake and are in good health, the occasional melatonin gummy before bed should be fine, though if you have concerns, we advise checking with your healthcare provider about the sugar in melatonin gummies.
What to Look For in Melatonin Gummies
Not all melatonin gummies are created equal. Some melatonin gummies include ingredients not listed on their labels and or doses of melatonin much higher than they advertise. A 2023 study of 25 melatonin gummy brands found that the true quantity of melatonin in the supplements ranged from 74 percent to 347 percent14 of the labeled amount.
That said, there are some tips on what to look for when buying melatonin gummies to help ensure you’re getting the best supplement possible.
- Third-party certification – To make sure the supplement you’re buying includes the ingredients and dosage listed on the label, look for products that are marked “USP-verified15.”
- Strength – Experts recommend a dosage of melatonin somewhere between 1 and 5 milligrams for most people.4 This is important to pay attention to because some melatonin gummies contain up to 10 to 20 milligrams of melatonin per dose.
- Ingredients – If your product is USP-verified, you can at least be sure your melatonin doesn’t contain any mystery ingredients not listed on the label. However, you still need to pay attention to the ingredients it lists since melatonin supplements may contain other active ingredients such as L-theanine, CBD, and more. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with these extra ingredients; but if you want a product that contains only melatonin, be sure that’s what it says on the label.
- Sugar content – As mentioned, many melatonin gummies will contain sugar to help them taste better. Therefore, it’s helpful to verify the sugar content on the label since research shows a higher sugar intake can lead to poorer sleep quality16. If you prefer melatonin gummies over pills, it’s best to look for a product with low or zero sugar content.
- Flavors – Melatonin gummies can come in various flavors, such as strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and more. Be sure you’re paying attention to the flavor listed on your product before you buy it. You’re much more likely to use the melatonin when necessary if it’s a flavor you enjoy.
- Expiration date – Be sure you’re not taking melatonin gummies that are expired. This shouldn’t be dangerous, but as we mentioned, gummies lose potency over time, so an expired gummy may simply not work very well. Just like gummy candies, gummy supplements can become stale and hard.
Side Effects of Melatonin Gummies
We mentioned above that melatonin gummies have been found to not always contain the amount of melatonin that’s listed on the label.14 This, plus their sugar content, means that melatonin gummies can have some specific side effects.
- Dental problems – The sugar and citric acid in gummy supplements can cause teeth problems17. If you’re going to take melatonin gummies before bed, be sure you’re brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Sugar rush – It’s best to limit sugar intake in general, but certainly before bedtime. Melatonin gummies may give you a sugar rush before bed, and the sugar could harm your sleep quality.16, 17
- Gastrointestinal issues – If your melatonin gummy includes sugar alcohol, this may cause gastrointestinal issues or a laxative effect.17
- Possible overdose – Because it is harder to tell how much melatonin is actually in gummy supplements (those that are not USP-verified, anyway), you could wind up taking too much. This is coupled with the fact that gummy supplements taste like candy, so kids might accidentally ingest too much, which is why melatonin gummies should always remain out of reach for kids.
While melatonin is generally considered safe, it could lead to some unpleasant side effects18.
- Daytime fatigue
- Stomach issues
- Dry mouth
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Pain in the arms or legs
- Dry or itchy skin
If you experience any of these side effects with your melatonin gummies, you can try switching to another form of melatonin, lowering your dose, taking it earlier in the evening, or stopping melatonin entirely.
Learn More: Melatonin Side Effects
For those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking other medications, or have other health concerns, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements like melatonin.
Are Melatonin Gummies Safe for Kids?
Generally, experts believe19 that short-term, dose-appropriate melatonin should be safe for most kids, as long as you’re also addressing any behavioral or lifestyle issues that may be causing sleep problems. However, longer-term melatonin use may be beneficial for children with certain neurodevelopmental disorders.11
With melatonin gummies specifically, you’ll need to make sure they’re out of reach for kids because they can resemble candy, and your child may accidentally ingest too much. A report from the CDC found that unintentional melatonin ingestions among children under five years old had risen by as much as 530 percent between 2012 and 202120.
If you’re interested in giving your child melatonin for sleep, you should always check with their pediatrician first. They can provide more specific information on appropriate doses, how long to take the product, and brands they recommend.
Learn more: A Guide to Melatonin for Kids
Frequently Asked Questions
Are melatonin gummies as effective?
Yes, melatonin gummies can be effective21 for sleep. That said, some gummies have been found to contain more or less melatonin than is listed on the label.14 To make sure your product contains the dosage that is listed on the label, only buy products that are USP-verified.
Do melatonin gummies make you sleepy?
Melatonin gummies should make you sleepy about one or two hours after taking them.5 To help boost the effectiveness of melatonin, dim the lights after taking it and put away your screen devices since these lights can block melatonin production.1
Do melatonin gummies make it harder to wake up?
If you’re taking the appropriate dose at the right time, melatonin gummies should not make it harder to wake up. Experts advise a dose between 1 and 5 milligrams, one to two hours before bedtime.4, 5 If you feel groggy in the morning after taking melatonin gummies, you can try lowering your dose and taking them earlier in the evening.
Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.
- “Melatonin: What You Need To Know”. National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health. Last modified July 2022.
- Fatemeh, Gholami., et al. “Effect of melatonin supplementation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. National Library of Medine. 2022.
- “First Pass Effect”. ScienceDirect. Webpage accessed January 24, 2024.
- Tordjman, Sylvie., et. al. “Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits”. Current Neuropharmacology. 2017.
- “Common questions about melatonin”. National Health Service. Last modified February 13, 2023.
- “Melatonin”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2020.
- “Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work?”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed January 24, 2024.
- Aeschbach, D., et al. “Use of transdermal melatonin delivery to improve sleep maintenance during daytime”. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2009.
- “Sleep Anxiety”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified June 13, 2021.
- “Missing the mark with melatonin: Finding the best treatment for insomnia”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2021.
- Givler, Donald., et al. “Chronic Administration of Melatonin: Physiological and Clinical Considerations”. Neurology International. 2023.
- “Do’s and Don’ts of Giving Melatonin to Kids”. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Last modified April 5, 2021.
- “The sweet danger of sugar”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2022.
- Cohen MD, Pieter A., et al. “Quantity of Melatonin and CBD in Melatonin Gummies Sold in the US”. JAMA Network. 2023.
- “USP Verified Mark”. USP.org. Webpage accessed January 25, 2024.
- Alahmary, Sarah A., et al. “Relationship Between Added Sugar Intake and Sleep Quality Among University Students: A Cross-sectional Study.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2019.
- “Do Gummy Vitamins Work as Well as Traditional Vitamins?”. Cleveland Clinic. 2021.
- “Side effects of melatonin”. National Health Service. Last modified February 13, 2023.
- Fliesler, Nancy. “Melatonin for kids: Is it effective? Is it safe?”. Boston Children’s Hospital. 2022.
- Lelak MD, Karima., et al. “Pediatric Melatonin Ingestions — United States, 2012–2021”. 2022. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022.
- Goins, Sonya. “Mayo Clinic Minute: What are the benefits, risks of sleeping with melatonin gummies?”. 2023.