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Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. When it is dark, the brain makes melatonin to prepare the body for sleep.

In order to get the best sleep, a woman takes melatonin supplements prior to bed.Share on Pinterest
Melatonin supplements may help people fall asleep more easily.

A variety of factors, including some sleep disorders, working night shifts, and jet lag, can influence how much melatonin the body makes. There is some evidence that melatonin supplements can help some people sleep better.

Keep reading to learn more about melatonin supplements and how they might help people sleep. We also look at eight melatonin supplements that people can purchase.

NameMSRPServingOther notable ingredients
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin$12.991 mg/1 gummy
Natrol Melatonin$9.9810 mg/1 gummy
Puritan’s Pride Super Strength Melatonin Nighttime Sleep Aid
$8.2010 mg/1 tablet
Valimenta Liposomal Sleep Formula$28.9910 mg/1 mlGABA, glutamine
OLLY Sleep $13.99 per 18 servings3 mg/2 gummiesL-theanine
Amazon Elements Melatonin $9.755 mg/1 capsule
Vicks ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs Triple Action Melatonin Gummies$13.49–$16.996 mg/ 1 gummyvalerian root, ashwagandha
Nurish by Nature Made Melatonin 3 mg + L-theanine$13.793 mg/1 softgelL-theanine

Melatonin is a hormone that doctors sometimes call the sleep hormone. The brain makes melatonin in response to darkness and stops making it when exposed to light.

This hormone regulates the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm. Melatonin enters the bloodstream and sends a signal to all the bodily processes that it is time to get ready to sleep.

Many factors can influence how the body produces melatonin. Sleep disorders, working at night, and jet lag are all examples. Furthermore, as people get older, they start to produce less melatonin.

Melatonin supplements work by boosting the levels of this hormone. Manufacturers usually produce them in a lab.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, melatonin supplements might help certain people sleep better, including those with jet lag, anxiety before or after surgery, or delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD).

They may also be useful for children with sleep problems relating to long-term health conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Some people claim that the supplements help, but it is important to note that scientists are not yet sure whether they are effective. More research is necessary to confirm whether such products are safe in the long term.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates supplements less strictly than prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

There are no official dosage guidelines for melatonin. As it is a supplement, the FDA does not regulate its use.

There are different recommendations for dosing, but they are generally in a similar range. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends 1 milligram (mg) of melatonin for babies, 2.5–3 mg for older children, and 5 mg for adolescents. Children with a disability may take a dose as high as 10 mg. A person should speak with their child’s doctor to determine the exact appropriate dose.

An adult may wish to start from the child dose and work their way up if needed. Older adults should start with the lowest possible dose, as research shows that melatonin levels in their bodies can stay higher for longer.

This article recommends these reasonably priced melatonin supplements based on the amount of melatonin per serving, the presence of other helpful ingredients for better sleep, and the absence of artificial or chemical ingredients.

Each of these brands and products has also undergone vetting and qualified based on these general criteria:

  • whether there is scientific evidence to support any medical claims by the company
  • whether the company conducts ethical business practices
  • whether the product contains any additional harmful ingredients

Learn more about the vetting process.

Since the FDA does not regulate the use of supplements like melatonin, a person may wish to conduct their own thorough research.

Many supplements on the market are not accurately labeled. According to research, there is significant variability in the actual amount of melatonin a product contains compared with the labeled dose.

In addition, there may be other ingredients present that are not listed on the label. Certain ingredients, such as serotonin, may cause side effects for some people.

Choosing a product that has undergone reliable vetting is a good start. Consulting with a healthcare professional is also important. They may be able to recommend a reputable brand.

Lots of different melatonin supplements are available to buy online and in drugstores.

Some of the top-selling products in the United States are:

1. Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin

Best for children

This chewable, berry-flavored supplement is suitable for children over 3 years old.

  • MSRP: $12.99
  • Serving: 1 mg melatonin per one gummy
  • Other ingredients: sugar, natural flavors, xylitol, natural color, and fructose
  • Note: designed for occasional rather than regular use

Children should take one to three gummies, depending on their age, about 30–60 minutes before bedtime.

2. Natrol Melatonin

Best vegetarian

Natrol Melatonin supplements are strawberry flavored, 100% vegetarian, and dissolve quickly on the tongue with no water.

  • MSRP: $9.98
  • Serving: 10 mg melatonin per one gummy
  • Instructions: designed for occasional use

Other ingredients include organic tapioca syrup, organic cane sugar, pectin, elderberry juice (color), coconut oil, and carnauba wax.

3. Puritan’s Pride Super Strength Melatonin Nighttime Sleep Aid 10 mg

Best gluten-free

These supplements also are gluten-free. Other ingredients include rice flour and gelatin, as well as small amounts of silica and vegetable magnesium stearate.

  • MSRP: $8.20
  • Serving: 10 mg melatonin per serving
  • Instructions: take 1 tablet at bedtime

The Puritan’s Pride website says people can use the supplements for occasional sleeplessness.

4. Valimenta Liposomal Sleep Formula

Best liquid supplement

This vegan product is a liquid that contains a blend of melatonin, the antioxidant glutamine, and liposomal GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a role in relaxing the nervous system.

  • MSRP: $28.99
  • Serving: 10 mg melatonin per 1 milliliter (ml)
  • Note: free of alcohol and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Other ingredients include purified water, lipids from sunflower lecithin, glycerin, natural flavors, stevia, and potassium sorbate.

5. OLLY Sleep

Best for stress-relief

The elderberry flavored OLLY Sleep gummies also contain chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm extracts, as well as L-theanine, an amino acid that may help with relaxation.

  • MSRP: $13.99 per 18 servings
  • Serving: 3 mg melatonin per two gummies
  • Instructions: take two gummies 30 minutes before bedtime

Other ingredients include glucose syrup, beet sugar, water, gelatin, natural flavors, critic acid, coloring from carrot and blueberry juice, pectin, vegetable oil, and carnauba wax.

6. Amazon Elements Melatonin 5 mg

Best budget alternative

This melatonin supplement contains 5 mg of melatonin per serving, which equals one capsule. It does not contain any artificial colors, flavors, or chemical preservatives.

  • MSRP: $9.75
  • Serving: 5 mg per one capsule
  • Instructions: take one capsule before bedtime

Other ingredients include microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, and stearic acid. According to the label, it is vegan and gluten-free.

7. Vicks ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs Triple Action Melatonin Gummies

Best for insomnia

This supplement also contains valerian root extract, which is a plant that offers a sedative effect, and ashwagandha, which may help relieve stress and anxiety.

  • MSRP: $13.49–$16.99
  • Serving: 6 mg per two gummies
  • Instructions: take one or two gummies 30 minutes before bedtime, and aim to sleep for at least 6 hours

The product may contain nuts. Additional ingredients include chamomile, lemon balm, and lavender.

8. Nurish by Nature Made Melatonin 3 mg + L-theanine

Best for day-time focus

This supplement also contains 200 mg of the amino acid L-theanine, which is naturally found in black tea and may help improve focus and sleep quality.

  • MSRP: $13.79
  • Serving: 3 mg per one softgel
  • Additional ingredients: gelatin, glycerin, and yellow beeswax

According to the label, it does not contain synthetic dies or artificial flavors and is gluten-free.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has said that scientists do not have enough information to determine whether melatonin supplements cause long-term side effects.

They note that in some people, high doses of the supplements can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness. Older adults are more likely to feel drowsy during the day after taking melatonin than younger people. Children may sometimes wet the bed or feel agitated.

It is also important to note that melatonin supplements can interact with other medications, particularly blood thinners and epilepsy drugs.

Can you take melatonin while pregnant?

Pregnant people should avoid taking melatonin, as should people who are nursing. In addition, people with dementia should also not take it.

Anyone considering using a melatonin supplement should speak to a doctor first.

A person who is taking melatonin should speak with their doctor if they are experiencing prolonged or severe side effects or if they are experiencing any other unusual symptoms while taking the supplements.

Since melatonin is not right for everyone, a person should also consult with their doctor before beginning to take melatonin. Doing so will help prevent any medication interactions or negative effects on current health conditions and ensure the correct dosage.

The best thing people can do to improve their sleep is to look at their lifestyle and nighttime habits.

Some top tips for better sleep include:

  • napping for no more than 15–30 minutes during the day
  • exercising or doing other physical activity every day
  • avoiding caffeine and nicotine in the evening
  • refraining from eating spicy, fatty, rich, or fried foods before bed
  • spending time in the sunlight during the day, particularly in the morning
  • establishing a relaxing bedtime routine

People can also try making their nighttime environment more conducive to sleep. They can do this by keeping the bedroom cool, removing bright lights and noisy devices, and using earplugs or an eyeshade at night.

Learn more about tips and remedies on how to sleep better here.

How long does melatonin take to work?

Melatonin has a half-life of 40 minutes. It typically takes about an hour to peak in a person’s system.

How much melatonin should I take?

Different supplement brands contain different amounts of melatonin, and each person may react differently to a similar dose. For this reason, beginning with a minimal dose and working up as needed is a good practice.

How much melatonin is too much?

Although it is generally safe to take the supplement, it is also possible to overdose on melatonin. A person may want to begin with a child dose to gauge the effect on their body first.

Melatonin is a hormone the brain makes to prepare the body to sleep. Many factors can influence melatonin production, including jet lag, working night shifts, sleep disorders, and getting older.

Many people use melatonin supplements to help them get to sleep. While some evidence suggests that these supplements work, scientists are not yet sure that they are effective.

Experts are also uncertain about the right dose of melatonin to take and whether there are any long-term side effects.

Anyone who wishes to try a melatonin supplement should speak with a doctor or healthcare professional first.