Sleeping Problems? This drug may Help


Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in your body. It helps control your sleep patterns.

You can take a manmade version of melatonin for short-term sleep problems (insomnia). It makes you fall asleep quicker and less likely to wake up during the night. It can also help with symptoms of jetlag.

Melatonin is used to treat sleep problems in people aged 55 and over.

It can sometimes be prescribed to help with sleep problems in children and to prevent headaches in adults.

Melatonin is available on prescription only. It comes as slow-release tablets and a liquid that you drink.

Some cogent things to know:

  • Melatonin is mainly used to treat sleep problems in adults aged 55 or older.
  • You'll usually take it for 1 to 4 weeks.
  • Some people may get a headache after taking melatonin, or feel tired, sick or irritable the next day.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking while taking melatonin. These stop the medicine working as well as it should.
  • Melatonin is also known by the brand name Circadin.

Who can and cannot take melatonin
Melatonin is mainly prescribed for adults aged 55 or over, to help for short-term sleep problems.

It can sometimes be used by adults under the age of 55 and by children, if a doctor recommends it.

It's not suitable for some people. To make sure melatonin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

- have had an allergic reaction to melatonin or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- have rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, or any other autoimmune condition. 

How and when to take it
The dose will vary depending on why you're taking it. Follow the instructions that come with your medicine if you're taking melatonin to:

- prevent headaches
- treat jet lag
- If your child is prescribed melatonin, follow the doctor's instructions carefully. Find out more about giving melatonin to children from Medicines for Children.

For sleep problems in adults, your doctor will prescribe 2mg slow-release (or prolonged-release) tablets. These release melatonin gradually into your body during the night.

It's important to follow the instructions carefully. Your doctor may tell you to take melatonin only 2 or 3 times a week, and not every night.

You'll usually take melatonin for just a few weeks to help with short-term sleep problems (insomnia). However, it is sometimes prescribed for up to 13 weeks.

How to take it
For sleep problems in adults, the usual dose is one 2mg tablet. Take the tablet 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. This is because the medicine takes a couple of hours to start working.

Take melatonin after food.

Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush or chew it.

What if I take too much?
If you take 1 or 2 extra tablets of melatonin by accident, it's unlikely to harm you.

Side effects
Most people will not have any side effects when taking melatonin.

Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Feeling sleepy or tired in the daytime
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache or feeling sick (nausea)
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Pains in your arms or legs
  • Strange dreams or night sweats
  • Serious side effects
  • Serious side effects are rare and happen to less than 1 in 1,000 people.

Speak to a doctor as soon as possible if you:

Start feeling low or sad – this could be a sign of depression
Get blurry vision or your eyes become more watery than usual
Feel faint or pass out
Start feeling confused or dizzy, or things seem to be Spinning around you (vertigo)
have any bleeding that does not stop, unexplained Bruising or blood in your urine
get psoriasis. 

Note: Don't take this as your final medical solution, seek proper medical advice and treatment 


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