Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work & Is It Safe for Kids?

Heather Dessinger

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Melatonin supplements on store shelves

Inside: The benefits and uses of melatonin. Plus, is melatonin safe for kids?

As someone who has lost a decent amount of zzzz’s to sleeping baby ninjas and early rising toddlers, I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to researching and testing ways to improve sleep. Studies show that deep, good quality sleep makes us smarter, more creative, happier, more productive, and even keeps us looking younger . . . pretty important stuff! (1) (2) (3) () (5) (6)

Unfortunately, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, one out of three Americans “are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.” Kids are affected, too, although the symptoms of inadequate sleep often look different children.

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids,” says Dr. David Rapoport, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program.

“Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do,” he told “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.” (7)

For many families, melatonin supplements are taken as an alternative to addictive benzodiazepine-based sleeping pills, which have been shown to actually reduce the amount of deep, restorative sleep you get. Benzodiazepine sleeping pills also been shown to impair alertness, coordination and cognition during the day, which is not exactly what most people are hoping for when they take something in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep. (89)

I’m often asked why melatonin supplements are not suggested in my article on sleep tips for kids and other articles, so today we’re going to dive into:

  • Does melatonin work? (Research says yes, but only for certain situations)
  • Is melatonin safe for kids? (One expert calls its use with children “rather alarming.” We’ll dive into why)

What is melatonin? ^

Like estrogen and testosterone, melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a powerful hormone – the only one that can be legally obtained without a prescription in the United States. In many parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand and many European countries, it’s only available via prescription.

Often called the sleep hormone, melatonin has a partner in the body – cortisol. When one goes up, the other goes down, like this:

melatonin cortisol graph

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” rises in the early morning to motivate us to get up and go. As I wrote about here, some stress is actually beneficial, but getting stuck in stress mode is not.

Anyway, after its early morning spike, cortisol tapers off throughout the day. As it falls, melatonin starts to rise, signaling to our bodies that it’s time to relax and unwind. Melatonin increases significantly after the sun goes down and peaks overnight before tapering off in the early morning hours. At that point, cortisol takes back the reigns and starts preparing us for the new day. This cycle is known as our circadian rhythm.

At least, that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work. Factors like stress, excessive caffeine intake, exposure to blue light at night, not getting enough natural light during the day, and alcohol consumption can all reduce our internal production of melatonin. When that happens, some people take melatonin as an over-the-counter dietary supplement before bed.

To recap, there actually two types of melatonin:

  • The type our bodies produce internally – This is called endogenous melatonin. Endogenous literally means “growing or originating from within an organism.”
  • The supplements found on store shelves – Also called exogenous melatonin. Exogenous means “growing or originating from outside an organism.”

What are the benefits of melatonin? ^

In addition to signaling when it’s time to sleep, this hormone also:

  • Regulates immune function (10)
  • Supports cardiovascular health (11)
  • Is produced in the gut as well as the brain, where it may help regulate a unique, gut-specific circadian rhythm (12)

So, does melatonin work for sleep? ^

According to “The Sleep Doctor” Michael J. Breus:

This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin:  melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep.” (13)

In other words, melatonin is not really a “sleep hormone.” It signals to our bodies when it’s time to rest and unwind, which can be helpful if our circadian rhythm has gotten out of sync somehow. Examples of when this might happen are:

  • Traveling to a different time zone, where our body has not adjusted to local time
  • Forgetting to wear blue light blocking glasses when watching a movie before bed (and therefore accidentally suppressing normal melatonin production)

When circadian rhythm has been impacted, many experts believe short-term use of melatonin can be helpful. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:

Studies suggest that melatonin may help with certain sleep disorders, such as jet lag, delayed sleep phase disorder (a disruption of the body’s biological clock in which a person’s sleep-wake timing cycle is delayed by 3 to 6 hours), sleep problems related to shift work, and some sleep disorders in children. It’s also been shown to be helpful for a sleep disorder that causes changes in blind peoples’ sleep and wake times. Study results are mixed on whether melatonin is effective for insomnia in adults, but some studies suggest it may slightly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.”

Is melatonin safe? ^

The thing that surprised me most when I first started researching melatonin supplements is how common high doses are. Just 1-3 mg can elevate blood melatonin levels from 1 – 20 times normal levels, but you’ll find supplements that contain up to 60 mg. (14)

The optimal dose identified by MIT researchers is much lower –  0.3 mg. (15) Other studies have found that higher doses may actually be less effective.

Research points to potential downsides with higher doses. We’ll discuss those below, along with considerations for long-term use, what I do when I take it, and how to increase levels naturally.

With that in mind, here are the three things to consider when talking through options with your trusted healthcare provider. We’ll dive deeper in melatonin safety for kids, too.

#1: Long-Term Melatonin Supplementation May Cause Rebound Insomnia

When it comes to glands that produce hormones, the old “use it or lose it” adage has definitely turned out to be true. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that anabolic steroids – which mimic testosterone – cause testicles to shrink.

That’s because every hormonal system in the body has a feedback loop. When testosterone levels start to drop, the brain sends a signal to the testes in the form of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), telling them to make testosterone and sperm.

However, if you give a person high dose exogenous testosterone (in the form of steroids), the brain thinks, “Hey, we’re all good here! No need to make testosterone.” The brain stops sending signals to the testes, and over time they atrophy from lack of use. This is called a negative feedback loop. Here’s one way to think about it:

It’s kind of like if you had to walk to work every day to make money, but all of a sudden you win the lottery and never have to leave your couch. You still have just as much money, but your muscles will atrophy from lack of use.” (16)

The pineal gland – which produces melatonin – is thought to function in a similar way. According to Michael Grander, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, when you take melatonin for an extended period of time, “your body may acclimate and re-adjust and produce less over time which will work against you.” (17) That may be one reason why most melatonin supplements come with a warning not to use them more than 2-3 weeks.

What is rebound insomnia?

In addition to lowering natural production, long-term supplementation may have another effect called rebound insomnia. According to Dr. Richard Wurtzman, the MIT scientist who discovered that melatonin is tied to sleep, supplementing may help at first, but eventually:

you’ll stop responding because you desensitize the brain. And as a consequence, not only won’t you respond to the stuff you take…you won’t respond to the stuff you make, so it can actually promote insomnia after a period of time.” (17) mentions the possibility of this effect at doses between 2 and 10 mg. (18)

#2: Melatonin Supplements May Affect Fertility

Melatonin doesn’t just help set our circadian rhythm – it also helps govern reproductive function. In fact, in Europe high doses of melatonin have been used as a contraceptive. (19) The dose used was 75 mg, which is just 15 mg higher than what can be bought over-the-counter in the United States. When you consider that weight is often factored in when determining dosage, it makes you wonder if lower dosages could have a similar effect in some people.

#3: Other Possible Side Effects

Before we go over this list, keep in mind that many melatonin supplements raise levels far beyond what our bodies can achieve naturally. Many experts caution against high dosages because of the increased likelihood of negative effects. Long-term use is another factor that needs to be considered, as it may be appropriate in some circumstances and not others.

According to the Mayo Clinic, potential side effects of melatonin supplements include:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • mild anxiety
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • feelings of depression. (20)

Additional research suggests other possible effects, such as:

  • Altered thyroid hormone uptake – In rats, high melatonin levels have also been shown to decrease T3 & T4 (thyroid hormone) uptake. (21)
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) in men, possibly by stimulating the overproduction of the hormone prolactin (22)
  • Reduced sperm count in men (23)

Melatonin also interacts with many medications. Here’s a list.

sleep tips children

Is melatonin safe for kids? ^

Though it now comes in cherry flavored chewable capsules, melatonin is not recommended for children by the Mayo Clinic. It “plays a role in the way a person’s body matures sexually,” writes the clinic, noting that melatonin “levels have an impact on how the ovaries and testes function. Further study is needed to determine if taking melatonin during childhood or the teen years can have an impact on a person’s sexual development.”

According to David Kennaway, director of the circadian physiology lab at the University of Adelaide in Australia, it’s not just reproductive development that needs to be considered.

Other Possible Concerns About Use With Children

There “is extensive evidence from laboratory studies that melatonin causes changes in multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems” in animals, he says, and he calls its use with children “rather alarming.” (24)

In other words, we’re not sure yet how giving melatonin supplements to children, particularly when used long-term, might affect their development. Other research suggests that supplementing with 1-5 mg of melatonin may cause seizures in children. (25)

That said, there may be times when a doctor determines that the benefits of supplementation outweighs the risks. According to Marcia Buck, clinical pharmacy specialist at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital in Charlottesville, melatonin is most beneficial for children who have suffered brain injuries that impair melatonin production. (26)

Other research has concluded that melatonin may improve sleep in children with autism. (27) Some of the children in this analysis had gene abnormalities that affected melatonin production and/or the function of melatonin receptor sites within the body. (Receptor sites are docking stations that allow the body to grab onto and use hormones like melatonin within the body.)

Melatonin for Jet Lag ^

“Melatonin can help reduce jet lag by syncing your internal clock with the time change.” (28)

Personally, the times I’ve found melatonin most helpful is when traveling through time zones. Here’s the method I used:

  • “Eastbound: If you are traveling east, say from the US to Europe, take melatonin after dark, 30 minutes before bedtime in the new time zone or if you are on the plane. Then take it for the next 4 nights in the new time zone, after dark, 30 minutes before bedtime. If you are still feeling drowsy the day after using this medication, try a lower dose.
  • Westbound: If you are heading west, for example, from the US to Australia, a dose is not needed for your first travel night, but you then may take it for the next 4 nights in the new time zone, after dark, 30 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin may not always be needed for westbound travel.” (18)

This analysis found that a low dose (0.5 mg) and a high dose (5 mg) were similarly effective.

Want to get your circadian rhythm back on track naturally? ^

You’ll find 18 science-backed tips here and more that specifically relate to children here.

Frequently Asked Questions ^

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions I’ve received on this subject. If you have a question that you think should be included please leave it in the comments below!

Can you take melatonin while pregnant or nursing? 

The safety of melatonin supplementation during pregnancy has not been studied.We do know, however, that it transfers into breast milk. (29)

Does melatonin interact with alcohol? 

Yes. Alcohol may weaken or amplify its effects. (30)

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Cabeca, a gynecologist and obstetrician and a menopause and sexual health expert. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.


1. Scientific American (2008) Sleep On It: How Snoozing Makes You Smarter. Retrieved from

2. PBS (2012) Can Sleep Make You Smarter? Retrieved from

3. BBC (2013) How Sleep Makes Your Mind More Creative. Retrieved from

4. American Psychological Association (2014) More Sleep Would Make Most Americans Happier, Healthier and Safer. Retrieved from

5. Stump, Scott (2013) “Nap Rooms” Encourage Sleeping On The Job To Boost Productivity. Retrieved from

6. Harris, Shelby (2013) Sleep and Longevity: 5 Ways Sleep Keeps You Young. Retrieved from

7. Sparacino, Alyssa (2019) 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep. Retrieved from,,20459221,00.html

8. Roehrs, Timothy and Roth, Thomas (2010) Drug-Related Sleep Changes: Functional Significance and Clinical Relevance. Retrieved from

9. Stewart, SA (2005) The Effects of Benzodiazepines On Cognition. Retrieved from

10. Carrilo-Vico, Antonio et. al. (2013) Melatonin: Buffering The Immune System. Retrieved from

11. Zukiswa, Jiki et. al. (2018) Cardiovascular Benefits of Dietary Melatonin: A Myth or a Reality? Retrieved from

12. Mukherjee, Sourav and Maitra, Saumen Kumar (2015) Gut Melatonin In Vertebrates: Chronobiology and Physiology. Retrieved from

13. Breus, Michael J. (2011) Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep. Retrieved from

14. National Sleep Foundation. Melatonin and Sleep. Retrieved from

15. MIT News (2001) Scientist Pinpoint Dosage of Melatonin for Insomnia. Retrieved from

16. How Do Steroids Lead To Testicular Atrophy? Retrieved from

17. Huffington Post. The Dark Side of Melatonin. Retrieved from

18. Melatonin. Retrieved from

19. Silman, RE (1993) Melatonin: A Contraceptive for the Nineties. Retrieved from

20. Mayo Clinic (2017) Is melatonin a helpful sleep aid — and what should I know about melatonin side effects? Retrieved from

21. Rom-Bugoslavskaia, ES and Shcherbakova VS (1986) Seasonal Characteristics of the Effect of Melatonin on Thyroid Function. Retrieved from

22. Anawalt, Bradley (2016) Gynecomastia. Retrieved from

23. Luboshitzky, Rafael et. al. (2002) Melatonin Administration Alters Semen Quality in Health Men. Retrieved from

24. Science Daily (2015) Warning On Use of Children’s Drug for Children’s Sleep. Retrieved from

25. Penn State. Melatonin. Retrieved from

26. USA Today (2008) Kids Tucked in With a Dose of Melatonin. Retrieved from

27. Rossignol, DA and Frye, RE (2011) Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from

28. Pfeffer, M et. al. (2012) The endogenous melatonin (MT) signal facilitates reentrainment of the circadian system to light-induced phase advances by acting upon MT2 receptors. Retrieved from

29. Cohen, Engler et. al. (2012) Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: potential role of breast milk melatonin. Retrieved from

30. Medical News Today (2017) Are Melatonin And Alcohol Safe To Mix? Retrieved from

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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43 thoughts on “Melatonin for Sleep: Does It Work & Is It Safe for Kids?”

  1. Wow, this is very interesting. I struggle with falling asleep quite a bit. Several months ago I bought a melatonin supplement that also contained things like valerian (which is gross to drink as a tea!). I took it for maybe 4 days before it started giving me nightmares. I took a break, then several weeks later I tried to take it again. Nightmares on the second day. So I had already decided this was not for me, but I’m very glad to know why – thanks!

  2. It’s about time someone wrote about this. Just like you…I have a list of things I have wanted to write about, but have also been on a blogging hiatus until I can get really focused. This is one of the topics on the back burner!
    My daughter and son, as well as me, deals with sleep issues-(I have fibro. and I learned that my children also have a 50% chance of having it too.)
    So i tried Melatonin, my daughter did, as well as my son.
    All of us experienced the same things:
    The first night, it helped us sleep, but after that it disturbed our sleep even more!

    Thank you for shedding some light on this issue!

  3. Thank you for your post. I think it is both informative and so true. I am a tragic insomniac and have gone weeks with little to no sleep so I have been on both the pharmaceutical and naturopathic roller coaster. My doctor explained to me everything you have said here and cautioned long term use. I think people flock to Melatonin because insomnia can be so debilitating but difficult to treat. We feel so much better if we think its ‘natural’ when in fact some of these natural remedies have just as many side effects as their pharmaceutical counterpart. I think people need to be informed and educated before making any choice. Thank you for offering this.

  4. Sari, I’m sorry you feel that way. Honestly, there is no way I could write a post that encapsulates all the information Emily covers in her book. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have wanted to cover my concerns about melatonin for awhile but didn’t quite have all the pieces. I decided to write this post now in hopes that people will take advantage of this sale and find answers that go beyond pills, whether they be natural or pharmaceutical. Emily has put a lot of research and effort into putting The Sleep Solution together, and even if I could clearly outline what she covers over 130+ pages in one blog post I wouldn’t because it is her work. However, with her permission I did share this angle, and I hope you found it helpful in some way even if it didn’t provide all the answers you desire.

  5. After dealing with night-terrors, nightmares, many sleepless nights and several high-powered prescriptions with my son, we were introduced to Melatonin. My sons pediatrician recommended it and it has been a life-saver in our case! It has been more than 5 years and he still takes Melatonin most nights. We relocated to another state and his new pediatrician also recommended it. I cannot imagine what we would do without it. I hate to think that it could possibly be causing harm in other ways.

    • I use it for my daughter too, 1/2 mg chewables from Trader Joes. She has sensory issues and other special needs and I came to the conclusion that I *know* that her inability to sleep affects her ability to learn and her daily quality of life, where there might or might not be potential hormonal risks down the line so I choose to use it with her.

      We do epsom salt baths as well, and a good bedtime routine, but that wasn’t enough for her. It’s still good to be informed that there are risks and to keep an open mind to other solutions.

      • We love it here. My son also has Sensory Issues and a brain that won’t quit. LoL We only use it when we change up routines and he can not get the “let down”. It works wonders for us and we use the smallest of quantities. We love it and recommend it. Better than other drugs and things out there and I think the worst case scenario, a vivid dream.

    • I have not had the experience of giving my child melatonin but when they have had trouble sleeping I give them the homeopathic calms forte. But the one major thing you can do to end kids’ nightmares and terrors is totally natural. Cut out the TV. Period. When my children were young i found they would get night terrors after watching tv. It’s filled with all sorts of violence but even if you censor what they watch it can still happen. I found that even what we as adults consider benign children consider very scary. Once we cut out the tv the nightmares were gone! And i won’t even get into the whole scientific reason for limiting screentime, fight or flight response, and child development. It also has a negative impact on imagination and creativity. It amazes me at the amount of people that use tv as a tool to put their kids to sleep rather than read a book, setup a bedtime routine and encourage them to go to bed.
      Anyway as they’ve gotten older we very sparingly introduce new things on tv. They tend to watch musicals and carefully screened documentaries. Very little disney movies. They all tend to have some scary antagonist. We maybe watch 1-2 things per month during the school year and more frequently watch during the summer. As a result they love classical music, are voracious readers, and have lots of valuable playtime full of imagination.

  6. Thank you for this post! I have a six year old daughter who has trouble sleeping (though she would never admit it!). My sister-in-law suggested trying melatonin because it has helped her and her boys with sleeplessness. I have been giving it for about a week and a half, but I haven’t really noticed any improvement. I would so love to get this ebook bundle, but I can’t right now. I will definitely be doing some more research, though!

  7. Hi Kira,
    I get annoyed and overwhelmed with VGN’s promotional tactics, but I think it’s unfair to say that Heather is fear-mongering.

  8. Kira, I’m sorry that you feel that way. However, I can honestly say that I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder for months – way before there was a book or a bundle on the horizon. I hadn’t published it because there were still some things I hadn’t worked out about the relationship between melatonin and cortisol, but after reading Emily’s book I felt I had a better understanding.

    I receive a lot of requests to review books/products on this site. For the most part I find that they are not aligned with the message of this blog, so I decline. When I do feature something it does not necessarily mean a 100% endorsement, but it does mean I found the resource valuable and/or unique enough to want to share. I’m sorry that the message of this post did not resonate with you, but I personally feel a bit relieved to have finally published this post. I think it’s important info worth considering!

    • We may disagree on the marketing approach of VGN in general, but I have to agree with the person below who remarked on how graciously you respond to negative comments. I did not intend to be unkind, and I’m sorry if I came across that way.

      • Thanks for following up, Kira! You’re always welcome to speak your mind here as long as it is done with tact, which you have done. <3

  9. Timing was perfect! I literally was just on another website looking at different brands of melatonin, reading the reviews and considering buying some. I’m so glad I didn’t. I have a “new” understanding of how powerful hormones can be when taking them supplementally. A little more than a year ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was a narrow escape from a worse form of it. It was both progesterone and estrogen positive, which, I was told, is quite unusual. I had been taking natural plant based estrogen and progesterone for several years…. When I read in the article that melatonin is also a hormone, it really made me “step back” and take it much more seriously than I had been. Thank you soooo much for an important and informative article!

  10. I’m with ya, Kira! I subscribe to many of the bloggers affiliated with VGN and look forward to their posts. But all this week, every time I opened a post, it was about this book bundle. Then today I had 4 of them about melatonin and this book bundle. I feel like I can’t escape this book bundle because all my favorite bloggers have it posted on their sites, their FB pages and have sent out emails. Enough already! I appreciate that they are trying to make some money from their blogging work, but I’m beginning to feel hounded!

    • Agreed. I would love to get SOME of the books…but I don’t have $39 to “waste” right now on things, not with a baby on the way in 6 weeks and regular bills, plus trying to figure out maternity leave and all that comes with having a child. I find it frustrating, too, that even if I DID have that $39…the sale ends JUST before I get paid. So really, why can’t we just pick & choose a FEW books….at the same price…since they’re E-BOOKS?

      And not all melatonin is the same, as noted. The melatonin from is far superior (as are their other supplements) to the garbage bought in stores.

  11. What’s disappointing to me is that these “sleep doctors” and people who write these books like the Sleep Solution NEVER address shift work and working graveyards. Not everyone can live the perfect 9-5 lifestyle. Melatonin was recommended to me by several doctors (including my acupuncturist and a naturalpath) to help regulate my sleep schedule since I work graveyard shifts. Dr. Andrew Weil also recommends the use of melatonin for shift and graveyard workers, and I think these workers get the most benefit from it. I’m not taking it as a sleep aid, but as a tool that helps my brain to tell my body it’s time to go to sleep when it’s bright daylight outside.

    • Right on! I work rotating 8-hour shifts, so I move through the whole clock in a month. I sleep pretty well considering, but I simply cannot take a chance of not sleeping well when I’m on graveyard shifts. It’s hard enough to get through them with 9-10 hours of restful sleep, and it pretty much messes the whole string up when I have an off-day of sleep. Soooo, I’ve been taking Melatonin. It really stinks to find out that I could be compromising my health by doing so! Heather, is there anything to address the shift-work issue in The Sleep Solution? I had already written it off becuase I rarely come across anything/anyone that considers the plight of the shift-worker. 🙁

      • I think shift work is one of the hardest situations to manage when it comes to healthy sleep. There is evidence to support melatonin as helpful for resetting the biological clock due to jet lag, and I would assume the same would be the same for shift work. Obviously, the other concerns are still worth weighing, but I think there may be some validity to using it judiciously in this instance.

  12. Okay, so this is not at all meant to be a complaint. This post kind of reminds me of a local radio station. Every day they tell a joke, however they never finish it! What they do is tell this big back story and get you all into it, and then they say “but you’ll have to go to our website to see the punchline.” Haha! Again, this is not a complaint, it just reminds me of that. The difference is that their only purpose is to try to get us to the website, while you are informing us on an issue. I completely understand you not wanting to try to take her entire book and put it into your post. You provide research and information about an issue, which I am thankful for. So even if other people call it a “sales pitch,” I say there’s nothing wrong with it and it is a very informative post, as yours usually are. 🙂

  13. As an aspiring biochemist, I can say that alot of this information is false. Sorry to disappoint. Can’t believe everything you read, but you can believe published studies and raw facts. NOT interpretation that are often time skewed.

    • Mindy, would you like to elaborate? Differing opinions are welcome here, but saying that what I’ve written is incorrect in a general way does not provide a path forward for clarification. I am always open to learning more, though I must say I did actually refer to peer-reviewed studies while working on this post.

      • Oh Heather, I am sorry I did not mean to come off rude. I was not at all trying to say that what you said was incorrect. I should have elaborated In my initial post. What you do here is amazing and I have nothing but respect for you and your blog. My point about melatonin is that it is a hormone and like all hormones it serves its purpose in the body. Melatonin is a hormone released in the evening that signals to the body it is tired and ready for bed. It is actually the hormone that allows us to get fall asleep when we are tired. As young healthy people and of course children, our bodies naturally produce ample amounts of melatonin. Under times of stress or extreme anxiety levels of melatonin drop and that is a good reason to take a supplement if it is difficult to sleep. Sleep is always a healthier option. At those times in our life it is important to not establish a routine with melatonin because it can cause our body to reduce its natural production.
        As we age our bodies produce less and less of this hormone making sleep problems even more prevalent, but more interestingly, low levels of melatonin are directly related to the likelihood of a person to develop Alzheimer’s and/or other forms of dementia. Taking this hormone supplement greatly reduces this chance. More sleep is also related to more serotonin being released. You know the hormone that makes us happy 🙂
        So you see what I am saying is it is a good supplement for the right reasons, but it seems this book and post amplified the negative side by discussing improper use of the hormone.

  14. Not the only hormone you can get over the counter without a prescription. You can get progesterone and DHEA at most health food stores. Vitamin D is also a hormone.

  15. I have been taking both melatonin and cortisol supplements for over a year now, after having a baby. I don’t know how I will sleep without them, but I do really want to wean myself off them. But I think there has to be other things I can do / increase while I wean off of them so that I don’t go without sleep. I can’t find the book, The sleep solution. The links all lead to The Real Food Guide. Is it available by itself? Thank you for this post. It may be God speaking to me today through you.

  16. I took melatonin for about 4 -5 weeks and had very unusual mental stress that I could only attribute to the use of it. I stopped taking melatonin and the strange thoughts vanished along with it. It’s strong maybe dangerous stuff, and I can’t imagine why it is so often recommended. I take a few sips of Sleepytime tea before bed and it easily has me out for the night sleeping like a baby. Love my tea.

  17. Thanks for your info. For me melatonin doesn’t work, I have to take prescription sleep aids.
    Which I hate. For some of you, especially for little kids, hypnosis might be a help, not a cure. I think this would be great for kids, as it uses there imagination to help them quite there mind. It has been one tool that has been helpful, but doesn’t always work for me. It teaches you to relax your body and your mind, and you can use your creative imagination and go to a special place in your mind, the beach, a stream, a water fall, up in the mountain, disney land,, what ever kids enjoy, you can use that to help them relax, and quite there minds down.
    Hormones scare me, I have to take testosterone because I am not making enough and I hate to think my body is shutting down making it, but sometimes you just can’t not do it, as it helps me feel more energized and stronger. It as caused by a tumor in my pituatary gland, and we have search for years why I have been feeling so bad.
    I would like to know what other sleep remedies do you use? what has helped you , what hasn’t.


  18. I’ve practiced functional medicine for nearly 30 years (using nutrition to balance human physiology and optimize health). You’re doing a disservice to scare people out of taking melatonin which has been shown to be remarkably safe while potentially very beneficial for health when taken responsibly.

    • I am not trying to scare people, but rather to discuss potential downsides of long-term use. While short-term (less than two weeks) use may be appropriate in some circumstances, many parents I have been advised by friends to give melatonin daily for an indefinite period to help kids sleep.

      • I agree with you Heather. This Dr above obviously hasn’t done his research as I have also read a lot on Melatonin. People need to know the down side of it as well. After reading up on it, I removed it from my cabinet of supplements. Not only due to the fact it makes RLS worse, it also does have some contraindications with it and to use caution when taking with some medications. It’s a supplement I no longer recommend to my followers.

  19. As a 55 year old female I started taking melatonin for a better quality sleep. Dose 3 milligrams before bedtime. The first week I thought it was working because I did sleep a little better. I don’t have insomnia, it just takes a while to fall asleep and stay asleep. After a few months I began feeling irritable, and my heart became beating faster and irregular. At first I thought I was stressed or had High Blood Pressure but it was ruled out. I began gaining weight, so I started to exercise an additional hour on top of my daily routine but it did not stop the weight gain. My diet is on the low carb side with very good fats, zero sugar and very little grains. I became suspicious of melatonin, first because it reminded me that it was a hormone and that some doctors think it should be prescribed. The more I looked into the side effects, the more alarmed I became. It was causing problems to my already weak thyroid and making my heart beat fast which ironically would not let me sleep and reducing the amount of melatonin did not help. I am glad you wrote about the dark side of melatonin. It sure messed me up for a while.

  20. To be honest, I prefer the amino acid Tryptophan for restful sleep. I find that melatonin leaves me feeling groggy in the morning.

  21. Also take note, Melatonin in people with Restless legs syndrome does not work. It causes more problems. I know because I have RLS and found this info in a study along with myself of trying it out. So if you have RLS, dont take it.

  22. Would a small amount of melatonin help with children who have had an afternoon nap (which is not their normal habit) to fall asleep at bed time? When we travel on long road trips, the younger kids will invariably fall asleep in the car and then stay up quite late, which makes it hard on Mum and Dad who have to drive the next day. I’ve been thinking that this might help. What are your thoughts?

  23. The contraceptive blurb is interesting. 10mg Melatonin nightly is often prescribed by Naturopathic Doctors as a way to increase egg QUALITY for ovulation (as well as CoQ10).

    The hypothesis that Melatonin in doses lower than 75mg (which is HUGE) might also affect fertility in a negative way is reaching a bit.. best to get facts on that before fear mongering to women who are already soaking up every bit of information they can find on the internet about why they are not pregnant yet