Nutrients & Suplements

Melatonin: Its Benefits and

Side Effects 

By Kristina Pestana, MS, CNS, LDN

What is Melatonin?


Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body's internal clock. It's best known as a sleep aid. Your brain naturally produces melatonin in response to darkness. Your melatonin level peaks around bedtime, helping induce and maintain normal sleep.


Should I Consider Taking a Melatonin Supplement?

Some research suggests that taking a melatonin supplement at the right time might help treat jet lag, insomnia or other sleep disruptions.* Melatonin may also reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, although this effect is typically mild.*


Melatonin may also play an important role with pain. Pain can reduce both the length and quality of sleep, and poor sleep can increase the experience of pain. Promoting good, restful sleep can minimize the experience of pain as you heal.*

Sleep also is important to the healing process. Healthy levels of melatonin during sleep act as an antioxidant and can help support the overall process of normal healing.*

Are there Food Sorces Rich in Melatonin?

Small amounts of melatonin are found in foods such as walnuts, corn and asparagus.


Some research suggests that the concentrated juice of the tart cherry, also known as the sour or Montmorency cherry, is a good source, although research is conflicting.

How Can Melatonin Affect My Health?

Are There Any Side Effects From Taking a Melatonin Supplement?

Supplemental melatonin can support you in several ways:


  • Decreases the time to fall asleep*

  • Improves the ability to stay asleep*

  • Enhances the depth of sleep*

  • Helps maintain normal circadian rhythms*

  • Acts as an antioxidant to support health and healing*

When taken as recommended, side effects from melatonin are uncommon. Possible melatonin side effects include:


  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Other, less common melatonin side effects include abdominal discomfort, mild anxiety, irritability, confusion and short-lasting feelings of depression. 

How much Melatonin Should I take?

Is it Safe? 

An amount of melatonin as low as 0.3 milligrams (mg) at bedtime has been shown to help improve sleep quality.* Daily amounts in the range of 3 to 10 mg are more commonly used. 


Recent research conducted at MIT, concluded the physiological dose of melatonin of about 0.3 milligrams restores sleep in adults over the age of 50. Researchers discovered that higher doses, were less effective in treating insomnia. 

In addition, higher doses could cause excess sleepiness or feel  mentally or physically slow the next day.

Does Quality Matter? 

Because melatonin, like all other supplements, isn’t regulated like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, look for high quality, professional brands that provide more information on their manufacturing practices, quality and purity of its ingredients and transparency throughout the process.


Look for information from, or for the NSF International logo (Thorne is really good about this), UPS, ISO Certified. 

 *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

This information is for educational purposes only. The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician if you have any question regarding a medical condition


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