Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Sleep health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Melatonin


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Melatonin is a hormone that is synthesised by the pineal gland in humans and produced in animals as well as plants. Although the effects of melatonin are complex and poorly understood, it plays a critical role in the regulation of the sleeping and waking cycle and other circadian rhythms. Melatonin has been studied as a possible treatment of circadian rhythm disorders and may be helpful in reducing sleep disturbances caused by jet lag. Melatonin works by triggering chemical receptors in the brain to encourage sleep.

Melatonin is available by prescription only and is given as a short-term treatment of insomnia in people age 55 and over. The medication should not be used for longer than 13 weeks.

Melatonin safety

Melatonin is not recommended for people with allergies or sensitivity to any of the medication's ingredients, or who have problems with the immune system, kidney or liver problems.

Alcohol should be avoided while taking melatonin.

Because melatonin affects sleep patterns, it may affect a person's driving or the ability to operate machinery.

Melatonin is not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Melatonin may also react with other medications and treatments, including contraceptive pills. Make sure the doctor knows about all medicines taken, including complementary treatments and supplements.

Taking melatonin may affect some laboratory test results. Other possible side effects of melatonin include dry mouth, anxiety, indigestion, chest pain or restlessness.

Next Article:
Reviewed on December 19, 2016

Sleep well newsletter

Get tips for better sleep.
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
smiling baby
Causes and remedies
man holding sore neck
16 tips when you have a lot of weight to lose
mother and child
Caring for a baby with cows' milk allergy
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
man holding sore neck
8 signs you're headed for menopause
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
rubber duckie
Hidden allergy hotspots in homes
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver