|Type of medicine||Hypnotic|
|Available as||Modified-release tablets|
Melatonin is used to treat insomnia (difficulty sleeping), but only for a period of time of up to 13 weeks. It is licensed for use in people who are over the age of 55 years.
Melatonin is a hormone which occurs naturally in the body and is associated with the control of the body's sleep pattern. It works in insomnia by helping to promote and improve the quality of sleep. It is effective in people over the age of 55 years because as we grow older the amount of naturally occurring melatonin reduces.
Before taking melatonin
Before taking melatonin make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have an autoimmune disease. This is where the body is attacked by its own overactive immune system. It includes conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take melatonin
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
- Take melatonin exactly as your doctor has told you. The usual dose is one tablet each day taken 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Take melatonin with a snack or just after food.
- Swallow the tablets whole, do not chew or crush them. This is because the tablets are designed to release the melatonin slowly for a more even effect.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember if it is before you go to sleep. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose and take the next dose when it is due.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Do not drink alcohol while you are taking melatonin because it will reduce the medicine's effectiveness in helping you sleep.
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your progress can be monitored.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Can melatonin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|These side-effects are considered to be uncommon - this means they affect fewer than 1 in 100 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until these effects have worn off and your reactions have returned to normal|
|Indigestion, stomach ache||Eat little and often, and try to avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Dry mouth, mouth ulcers||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a preparation to help this|
|Feeling irritable or restless, night sweats, dry or itchy skin, skin rash, pains in the arms or legs||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store melatonin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Circadin® 2 mg prolonged-release Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Circadin® 2 mg prolonged-release Tablets, Lundbeck Limited, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Helen Huins