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Melatonin-time-release Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Nov 17, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm

How it works

  • Melatonin time release is a supplement that may be used in the treatment of sleep disorders. It is a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone, melatonin, produced by the pineal gland and other parts of our body.
  • Environmental light inhibits the secretion of melatonin and darkness stimulates the secretion of melatonin. Secretion of melatonin in humans starts around 9 pm and peaks between 2 and 4 am; with the duration of melatonin production varying from season to season.


  • Melatonin is classed as a supplement which means it is available without a prescription from pharmacies, nutrition stores, and other retail outlets.
  • Melatonin may be used to treat jet lag, sleep disorders in the blind, shift-work sleep disorders, and for general insomnia. It is an antioxidant and is purported to have numerous other properties (such as boosting the immune system, treating headaches, easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia).
  • Melatonin time release is marketed as improving sleep duration and may help people who awaken too early.
  • Melatonin appears more effective the more time zones crossed, and less effective for westward flights.
  • Occasional short-term use appears safe.


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, bed-wetting, headache, nausea and excessive daytime sedation are the most common side effects.
  • Melatonin time release may cause drowsiness that persists and may affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery the next day.
  • Not FDA approved.
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with epilepsy or autoimmune diseases, or taking warfarin. Caffeine and fluvoxamine may elevate plasma concentrations of melatonin. Melatonin may decrease plasma concentrations of nifedipine.
  • If melatonin is not taken at the right time of day it may cause drowsiness and delay adaption to local time.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Supplemental melatonin time release is an extended-release tablet that may be taken to improve sleep duration. Short-acting melatonin appears more effective for managing the effects of jet lag.


  • Use the lowest dose of melatonin when starting this product.
  • To take the orally disintegrating tablet, peel back the foil on the blister packaging and use dry hands to remove the tablet and place in your mouth. Allow the tablet to dissolve slowly in your mouth without chewing. Do not swallow whole.
  • Do not crush break or chew the extended-release tablet. Swallow whole.
  • Melatonin time release may take up to an hour to be effective. Take half to one hour before going to bed at your destination (10 pm to midnight). For jet lag, one dose is usually taken each night for four nights.
  • If time release melatonin appears ineffective, take short-acting melatonin.
  • Buy melatonin from a reputable brand with good quality control measures.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery if you feel sleepy with melatonin time release the next day or within 4 hours of taking melatonin.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Drowsiness may be experienced within an hour of taking melatonin and generally persists for several hours. Supplements of 5mg increase peak melatonin levels by around 25 times; however, they do not alter the natural physiological release of melatonin.
  • Plasma levels of melatonin return to normal within 24 hours of a single dose of melatonin.


Melatonin time release [Package Insert] Herxheimer A, Petrie KJ. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(2):CD001520.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use melatonin-time-release only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2018 Revision Date: 2017-11-17 00:04:14

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.