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How Many Mg of Melatonin to Take: Dose, Safety, and Ages

Experts usually recommend small doses of 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin in the short term. Start with a small dose and only increase if needed.
Updated
2024-02-29
14 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Jamie Zeitzer, PhD, Rise Science Scientific Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

How Many Mg of Melatonin Do I Need? 

  • In general, experts recommend taking small doses of 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin. Take as low a dose as possible. 
  • How much melatonin you need will depend on what you’re trying to do — i.e. whether you're trying to sleep during the day or change your sleep timing.  
  • The RISE app can tell you the best time to take melatonin and guide you through 20+ sleep habits to boost your natural supply of the sleep hormone. 

Have you ever found yourself dreading going to bed as you worry you’ll be awake, tossing and turning for hours? In times like these, sleep aids like melatonin are all too tempting. But how many milligrams of melatonin should you take exactly? 

Below, we dive into how many mg of melatonin you need for different scenarios and how you can use the RISE app to fall asleep without taking any melatonin at all.

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

“There’s no set amount of melatonin to take, but I recommend going for the smallest dose possible. Even 0.3 mg or 0.5 mg can be effective. You should only take melatonin short term, too, like when adjusting to travel across time zones.”

That’s what Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer,Dr. Chester Wu,

who’s double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine, suggests when it comes to taking melatonin.

Heads-up: Most experts recommend sticking to 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin. There are many studies looking into larger doses, but many of these don't compare large doses to small doses. They usually compare large doses to a placebo. This makes it tricky to know the optimal dose or the lowest dose you need to take for melatonin to be effective. Below, we share some relevant studies for illustrative purposes, but to find out how many mg of melatonin is right for you, consult your healthcare provider who can recommend the best dose for your situation.  

What’s the Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Adults? 

There’s no agreed-upon melatonin dosage for adults. Many experts recommend taking small doses of 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin.

Most clinical trials study 2-mg doses. So even though you can buy 5, 10, and even 20-mg doses of melatonin, these larger doses aren’t as well-researched. 

You may want to stick to a physiologic dose of melatonin, which is a dose that mimics the amount your body makes naturally. That would be about 0.3 mg or less. Anything more than this would be considered a pharmacologic dose or supraphysiologic dose. Even 1 mg gives you more than ten times more than what’s naturally found in your body. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement. There also aren’t any strict dosage guidelines and the amount of melatonin in supplements can differ to what’s on the label. In fact, even the scientific literature on melatonin concludes the optimum dose still needs to be clarified. 

How much melatonin you should take will also depend on what you’re trying to achieve.

Melatonin can be useful as a chronobiotic (something that changes the timing of your circadian rhythm, or body clock). Depending on whether you want to shift your circadian rhythm forward or backward (more on how much to take in those cases soon) you’ll need to take the melatonin at different times but in both cases, you’ll want to have a dose of 0.3 mg or less. 

Melatonin can also be a potent hypnotic (something that puts you to sleep) if you take it when your natural melatonin levels are low (during the day or at night when you’re traveling across time zones).

Melatonin is not very useful as a hypnotic when your natural melatonin levels are high (like before bed). It may only help you fall asleep a few minutes faster, or not even make a difference at all.

Here are some additional guidelines to consider when finding the right amount of melatonin for you:

  • Start with a small dose: To reduce the risk of side effects, start with the lowest dose and only increase how much you take if necessary. 
  • Reduce your dose if you feel sleepy the next morning: While sleep inertia, or morning grogginess, is normal, you shouldn’t feel very drowsy the next day from using melatonin. If you do, reduce how much you take and take it earlier in the day. If you wake up with high levels of melatonin in your system, you could push your circadian rhythm later, making it harder to sleep the next night. You can find out more about how long melatonin lasts here, and RISE can tell you the best time to take melatonin. 
  • Buy from reputable brands: A 2017 study tested different melatonin supplements and found they contained 83% less to 478% more melatonin than what was advertised on the label. We recommend Thorne or brands that are USP tested. You can get melatonin in many different dosage forms (such as capsules, tablets, and gummies), and be sure to check the mg of melatonin in any different product you take. 
  • Improve your sleep hygiene: These are the daily habits that can help you sleep. Some of them (like light exposure and alcohol close to bedtime) can reduce your natural melatonin production. RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits to help you fall asleep without melatonin and make the most of melatonin supplements when you take them. 

You can learn more about how to increase melatonin naturally here, and we cover how to sleep without melatonin here.

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
The RISE app can send you 20+ sleep hygiene reminders daily.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

What’s the Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Kids? 

There’s no recommended melatonin dosage for kids. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) released a 2022 health advisory stating that parents should seek medical advice before giving melatonin to their children. If suitable, a doctor will be able to tell you how many mg of melatonin to give your kid. 

There’s not much research into the safety of melatonin use in children, and melatonin may affect kids and teens differently. A 2023 study found young adults had impaired cognition the morning after taking melatonin. 

Another 2023 study found calls for pediatric melatonin ingestions to US Poison Control Centers increased by 530% from 2012 to 2021. They were linked to more than 4,000 hospitalizations and two deaths.  

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What’s the Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Older Adults? 

There’s no recommended melatonin dosage for older adults. Speak to your health provider to be sure melatonin is suitable for you, and start with the smallest dose possible. More research is needed to know if it’s safe to take melatonin as an older adult and what dose is best.

One review found natural melatonin levels vary greatly among older adults, making it hard to recommend a specific dose.

And melatonin supplements can affect younger and older adults differently. 

Another review, which looked at adults aged 55 to 77, found that after taking a melatonin supplement, melatonin levels were more elevated in older adults than younger adults. The review recommended older adults take the lowest possible dose of an immediate-release supplement to avoid prolonged elevated melatonin levels. 

And results are mixed on how well it works. One study found a 5-mg dose of melatonin taken at bedtime didn’t help people aged 65 and older with sleep problems get better quality sleep. 

But a 2019 review of studies, also on people aged 65 and older, found 1 mg to 6 mg of melatonin did improve the sleep of older adults. The review stated more research is needed to find the optimal minimum effective dose, however.

How Many Mg of Melatonin Should I Take Before Bed? 

It’s not clear how many mg of melatonin you should take before bed. Experts usually advise you to stick to 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin, but know that melatonin isn’t that useful at helping you fall asleep faster at your usual bedtime. 

Higher doses (>1 mg) may be more effective at helping you fall asleep than lower doses (0.3 mg), but high doses may make you feel groggy when you wake up and having high levels of melatonin in your system when you wake up can push back your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep the next night. 

If you take melatonin when your natural melatonin levels are high (like before bed), it may only help you fall asleep a few minutes faster, or not even make a difference at all.

We’ve covered how long before bed to take melatonin here. 

RISE can tell you the best time to take melatonin supplements. 

RISE app screenshot showing melatonin supplement reminder
The RISE app can tell you when to take melatonin.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their take melatonin supplements reminder here.

How Many Mg of Melatonin Should I Take for Jet Lag? 

There are two things that melatonin can do to help you get over jet lag. First, you can take it to help you adjust your circadian clock more rapidly. This requires a low dose of 0.3 mg or less and the correct timing of ingestion. If you are taking it to help you sleep before you adjust to the new time zone, 0.3 mg to 1 mg can be helpful.

Studies on the effectiveness of melatonin for jet lag include those looking at 5 mg of melatonin or more, but research shows a 0.5-mg dose of melatonin is as effective as a 5-mg dose at shifting your circadian rhythm to treat jet lag (the larger dose did help people fall asleep faster).

It’s also recommended to maintain good sleep hygiene as well, including being strategic with light exposure (more on this soon).

We’ve covered more on how much melatonin to take for jet lag and other science-backed tips to get over jet lag here. 

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How Many Mg of Melatonin Should I Take to Shift My Sleep Schedule? 

Experts usually recommend you stick to 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin to shift your sleep schedule.

Some studies look at 5-mg doses of melatonin, but research shows a 0.5-mg dose of melatonin is enough to shift your circadian rhythm earlier, which can be useful for night owls trying to become morning people

Other research shows 5 mg of melatonin taken five hours before when your body would usually start producing melatonin can shift your natural evening production of melatonin about 1.5 hours earlier. This helped participants fall asleep earlier and faster. But this research compared 5 mg to a placebo, so it didn’t reveal whether a small dose could have been similarly effective. 

Just like with jet lag, small doses (0.3 mg) early in the day can help to push back your sleep schedule — useful for extreme early birds trying to sleep later. 

We’ve covered more on how to reset your sleep schedule here. 

How Many Mg of Melatonin Should I Take for Shift Work? 

Experts usually recommend 0.3 mg to 1 mg of melatonin to help you adjust your sleep schedule to shift work. But other treatments may be safer. 

Again, while some research looks at 5 mg doses, much smaller doses have been shown to be effective. 

For example, research shows 0.3 mg or 5 mg of melatonin can increase sleep efficiency (how long you spend sleeping while in bed) when people sleep out of sync with their circadian rhythms when their bodies aren’t naturally producing melatonin, like during the day. 

And one study found 1.8 mg of melatonin can help night shift workers get more sleep during the day, but only on the first day of taking melatonin. 

Another study found 5 mg of melatonin helped nurses fall asleep after working night shifts. Melatonin decreased sleep onset latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) by 16 minutes. The nurses also said melatonin increased their sleep quality, although sleep experts don’t agree on a definition for sleep quality yet. But, as with other studies on melatonin, the 5 mg dose was compared to a placebo, not to a smaller dose. 

This study was done after working night shifts, however. You might want to avoid taking melatonin when working and only use it to adjust your sleep schedule after a block of night shifts, for example.

If you decide to try melatonin, start with a low dose to make sure you don’t feel any sleepiness effects during your shift. 

Shift workers may want to look into alternative options. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says studies on melatonin use in night shift workers are small and the results are inconclusive. Light therapy may be more effective. 

How Many Mg of Melatonin Should I Take If I Have a Medical Condition or Take Medication? 

If you have a medical condition or take medication, you should speak to a healthcare professional to find out how many mg of melatonin you should take — or if it’s safe for you to take it at all. 

That includes people who are:

  • Pregnant 
  • Breastfeeding 
  • A transplant recipient 
  • Taking prescription medication like epilepsy drugs, blood thinners, or immunosuppressants
  • Taking hormonal birth control  
  • Diagnosed with a health condition like diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, a seizure disorder, or a bleeding disorder
  • Struggling with sleep disorders like insomnia (the AASM doesn’t recommend melatonin for insomnia, so speak to a healthcare provider if you’re struggling with sleep problems as you may be prescribed a better treatment) 

How Much Melatonin Is Too Much? 

There are no set guidelines on how much melatonin is too much, but many experts say anything more than 1 mg may be too much. You may not even need that much. Small doses of 0.3 mg to 0.5 mg of melatonin have been shown to be effective. 

It’s also not generally recommended you take melatonin every day. Experts usually recommend melatonin for short-term use only, such as when treating jet lag. 

We’ve covered more on whether you can take melatonin every night here. 

Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

You probably can’t overdose on melatonin. More research is needed on melatonin overdose, though. 

The more melatonin you take, the higher your chances are of side effects, however, and you may sabotage your next-day energy levels and sleep schedule if you take too much. 

Can You Get Addicted to Melatonin?

You can’t get addicted to melatonin. You may get psychologically dependent on it and feel like you need it to drift off, and you may even find you can’t sleep when you don’t take it, but your body isn’t physically addicted to the substance. 

We’ve covered more on whether melatonin is addictive here.  

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that helps to prepare your body for sleep and keep your sleep-wake cycle in check. 

It’s secreted by the pineal gland, starting roughly two hours before your typical bedtime, as long as your environment is dimly lit. This moment is called the dim light melatonin onset (DLMO). 

Melatonin levels start rising as you get closer to bedtime. Come morning, your brain stops producing melatonin, making you feel more alert and ready to start the day. 

Graph showing melatonin production levels during the day and night
Melatonin levels over the day and night. Source: https://sites.psu.edu/lifeitmoveson/2018/01/26/sleep-external-influences/ 

However, melatonin can easily be thrown off by light exposure. It needs to be dim enough in the evening for melatonin production to start - even moderate room light can stop your pineal from making melatonin. 

Melatonin supplements are made in a lab or derived from animal glands and are sold in forms like pills, gummies, patches, and sprays. 

While generally safer than traditional prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills, the use of melatonin supplements can come with problems. 

There’s limited research into their long-term safety (at any melatonin dose) and side effects of melatonin range from headaches and dizziness to low blood pressure and depression, as well as drowsiness when you don’t want it, like when driving or at work. As they are not regulated by the FDA, there is also the concern that there may be contaminants in these supplements.

We’ve covered more on what melatonin does here. 

Sleep Easy With or Without Melatonin 

There’s no set mg of melatonin to take, but in general, experts recommend small doses of 0.3 mg to 1 mg. You should take melatonin short term, to treat jet lag or shift your sleep schedule, for example. 

You don’t need melatonin supplements to fall asleep every night. With good sleep hygiene, your body can make all the melatonin it needs. RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits and tell you the best time to head to bed (we call this your Melatonin Window) to make the most of your natural supply of the hormone. 

RISE users know how effective this is: “If I go to sleep according to my schedule, within my Melatonin Window, I am guaranteed to satisfy my sleep needs without any additional sleep aids, supplements, or medications. I am blown away by the accuracy and effectiveness of RISE.” Read the review

It works fast too — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days.  

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