Melatonin, Sleep & Migraine

Whether or not melatonin is an effective to fight insomnia is still under debate. A recent study indicates that when you take the medicine affects how it works in the body. Researchers report that it was most effective when taken in sync with an individual patient’s sleep cycle.

They warn that people shouldn’t self-medicate with melatonin. The lead researcher says, “This is all very complicated. If you give melatonin at the right time of day it can be effective. But if you give it at the wrong time it can make sleep problems worse.”

Melatonin may or may not be an effective migraine treatment. A small study published last year shows that taking the supplement 30 minutes before bedtime can help reduce migraines. But headaches can also be a side effect of melatonin. I took it for a while, but stopped because it increased my headaches and made me drowsy. I was told that in my previous headache specialist’s practice, some patients didn’t have side effects at first, but developed them after a few months.

Obviously there’s no conclusive evidence or prescribing guidelines here. If you’re interested, you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. Supplements don’t have to meet ingredient requirements, so one kind can vary dramatically from another. It may also interact with other common headache meds.

An article in UC Berkeley’s Wellness Letter issues these warnings about the supplement:

  • Having your levels measured won’t tell you anything, since levels vary from person to person and from hour to hour.
  • Chronic use of melatonin supplements may suppress the body’s own  production of the hormone.
  • Nobody knows what might happen if you have high natural levels and take a supplement on top of that.
  • Melatonin can interact with other hormones, which is why, in part, pregnant women and children should never take it.
  • Such drugs as aspirin, beta blockers, and tranquilizers can affect melatonin levels.

46 Responses to Melatonin, Sleep & Migraine

  1. Linda Gabbard says:

    I have never taken melatonin and haven’t had a headache in years but my daughter told me to take only half of a 3mg but i forgot and took the whole thing. I got a whopping headache like I haven’t had for many years. Was hurting all night and it wasn’t worth it to try and get some well deserved sleep with the Fibromyalgia I suffer with.

  2. Nancy Brady says:

    I always get a headache with melatonin; even with only 1mg. But I have tried Dr. Mercola’s sub-lingual spray and if I remember correctly, I didn’t get a headache from it and it worked quite well. I’m still searching for something that will give me a great sleep. I can’t seem to make it more then 2-3 hours continuous sleep. I’m so frustrated as I’ve spent a fortune trying everything!

  3. Suzanne Heller says:

    try they have lightbulbs and sunglasses that filter blue light, and might help with sleep, if you use them 1-3 hours before bed. I wonder if they would suppress the body’s ability to produce melatonin though, if used for too long, as well.

  4. Rick says:

    Just been taking Melatonin for about a month and during that time a headache has been a growing side effect.
    I can get migraines that are classic, but also stomach based, that can stay in the stomach or gravitate to full. Melatonin seems to have triggered a stomach reaction such that I’m far more sensitive to migraine triggers with some horrendous amplification of gastric symptoms.
    I’d say take with great caution if you get migraine with nausea.

  5. love says:

    I just started takeing melatonin and also have been getting real bad migraines. Its a slight pain that does not go away my head became very Sensative I was takeing 10mg.of it. Maybe thats why. Im going to stop for a few day’s then take it 1 more time for 2 day’s to see if it happens again then I will know but reading this helps

  6. I have been using melatonin supplements for about 3 months and I have had no side effects then last night I took 9mg instead of my usual 3-6mg I got the most horrible headache and its been on and off for hours… is it the melatonin????

  7. needs sleep says:

    @nancy brady
    You should get a bottle of 25mg benadryl pills. The only active chemicle is actually prescribed at a higher dosage as a sedtive. Take 2-3 of those everynight and you should atleast get a solid 5 hours. Hands down. I was prescribed quatiapine for a long time and when i stopped using it o tried melatonin. But it gives me sever migrains everytime i take it, so i then switched to using benadryl when i couldnt sleep. That shit is like gold for me when im having troubles sleeping 🙂 sorry for any spelling or grammer issues, im just getting used to this new phones keyboard!

    • eolnavigator says:

      2 or 3 benedryl every night? That’s crazy. Don’t take Benedryl people. (3 pills is an overdose) People on here are not doctors or nurse practitioners & should not be recommending drugs to each other.

      • Ash says:

        50mg is the suggested dose of Benadryl for sedation accord to the Davis drug guide. Always check with your provider of course and get assessed beforehand.

  8. Michele says:

    I have been taking melatonin for about four days and getting real bad headaches every day. I has to be the melatonin .

  9. Kelly says:

    My 16 yr old started taking 3mg of Melatonin to help her fall asleep at night as she has difficulty doing so. She also has ADHD. She has only taken it for two nights, but both mornings woke up with a headache. Should she take a lower dose? Thank you.

    • Mari says:

      I too have ADD and woke up with a horrific headache I’m hoping if I only take 5mg it will be better than the 10mg

  10. John K. says:

    I took melatonin for about 4 months straight- it was a godsend. At first. Then I started getting headaches. Especially anytime I drank alcohol. Even a single beer could trigger a headache. I stopped taking the melatonin, and rarely ever get headaches now. Melatonin might be safe every once in awhile, but over time it became a big problem.

  11. Lisa says:

    I have had migraines since age 38 and bad chronic migraines 3-4 times per week for 6 years. I have been taking 2-3 mg of melatonin each night for 3 months, not the extended release and in pill form that you swallow. I also have a sleep disorder that causes jumping out of my sleep when falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep that might be caused by peri-menopause. Melatonin is definitely helping to prevent my migraines. For me it has been very effective and dramatic.

  12. Beth says:

    I have taken melatonin for last two weeks. I got a headache within two days. I don’t get headaches normally. The headache increased when I took 6mg vs 3mg. I am very disappointed to have to stop taking melatonin because it improved the quality of my sleep dramatically.

  13. MiserableOldFart says:

    Melatonin has been a miracle drug for me. I am a lifetime insomniac who has used various OTC and prescription drugs to fight it. I take a quarter of a 3 mg pill every night and it works wonderfully. Yes, I have wild dreams and some headaches from it, but it has been a huge help to me. The only thing that I would suggest to people is that the dosages available OTC are HUMONGOUS, and if 1 mg doesn’t help you sleep, you should probably forget about melatonin.

    To the person who said “even one mg. gives me a headadache,” if it helped you sleep, you might try a half or even a quarter mg. I know that an average of 3/4 mg. is effective for me, and I’m a 220 pound man. I have a suspicion that dosages in the quarter mg. range will be effective for those who the stuff is going to help, and even the huge 5mg pills aren’t going to help people that don’t need melatonin to sleep.

  14. Francis says:

    I have chronic insomnia (actually a circadian rhythm disorder) and have tried to use melatonin five different times. It always causes headaches after about 2 days (1.5mg). After not having used it for several years, I tried again last week with the same results plus daytime drowsiness. Have read that melatonin headaches are more common in females over the age of 60 (which fits me). Also more common in people who have MS, RA, Depression, Osteoporosis, high Blood Pressure, and Migraines. Ironically, melatonin is sometimes used to treat certain types of headaches inclusing Migraines. Oh well, happy for those who seem to benefit and sorry for those who experience side effects. It does help my sleep but not worth the headaches.

  15. Alison Briggs says:

    I have been taking melatonin 3mg fast dissolve for a few months.

    I have suffered headaches and migraines for years but are worse now i have been taking melatonin. I didnt notice it straight away though, only since i have been taking an SSRI. Im going to try a lower dose of melatonin as it really has been the only thing to help me sleep and my neurologist is prescribing meds for the headaches/migraines

  16. Gabrielle says:

    I notice that every time I take melatonin the headaches re-appear over time. I get a strong pain in the back of my head towards the base of my skull. does this happen to any one else?

    • Em says:

      Yes! Do you have high blood pressure? That’s where my head hurts when it’s elevated.

    • Lana says:

      I’ve taken melatonin off and on for the past 10 years. I didn’t notice any additional headaches /migraines. I started getting migraine headaches soon after my 1st child was born. Yet, they almost went away completely after the age of 35. I took a 5 mil melatonin the other night (for the first time in over a year) and again the next night and had one of the worse headaches in years! I also got the migraine flash 3 times in a row the next night. If melatonin is giving me such a horrible headache as to keep me awake to the severe pain (which traveled down my neck) it’s defeating the purpose. I’ll take something else next time I need to sleep!

  17. Autumn says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. My 90-year-old mother was prescribed melatonin by her Dr. She was having headaches but my sister and I thought it was from a cough she has. I bought her the Advanced Sleep melatonin and took a tab myself. I had a bad headache the next day. I get headaches and didn’t link it. But the day after that we both had a headache. I thought that curious and looked up “melatonin headache”. Switched mom to Benadryl and now no headache. Also the tip on here about “low blue lights” was a good one. Just ordered some blue light blocking glasses for both mom and I and hope they will give us both better sleep.

  18. Phil says:

    Unfortunately, melatonin also gives me whopping headaches. The best natural cure for sleeplessness I’ve found is Noam Chomsky videos (seriously, try it if you don’t believe me).

  19. Lisa says:

    Ive been taking 3mg and too have been experiencing headaches when I wake up in the morning. It lasts for a while too. I stopped taking it and no headaches. I will try the Benadryl suggestion and hope it will help with my insomnia.

  20. Jacque says:

    I came across this site by accident and I am so happy I did. I have tried everything literally as I don’t sleep at all can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. I have not tried melatonin for several weeks and as a lifelong migraine sufferer I seem to wake up almost every other day with a horrible throbbing headache and a pain in the base of my neck as other people have mentioned. It has to be the Melatonin. This is not a way to live. Just am at my wit’s end. But so grateful for everybody’s comments thank you all.

  21. Jacque says:

    Need to revise my last comment I do take melatonin I think it was a typo sorry about that that’s what I think it’s triggering the headaches.

  22. Sonny says:

    The stores sell 3 to 5mg tablets, which is way too much to take each night. I was told this by my doctor. I only take 1 to 1 1/2 mg a half an hour before bed. My doctor says that’s all I need. Still, I get the headaches that all of you talk about. But, if I don’t take it, I can’t sleep.

  23. Tracey says:

    I have suffered from insomnia for most of my life as,well as severe migraines, both diagnosed around age 17. I am now 46.
    I take 400 mgs daily of Topamax for migraine prevention and have been on many prescription meds and OTC products for insomnia. I have tried melatonin in several mgs and have been getting bad headaches. So glad I found this ! I wanted to try to get off prescription meds but the headaches aren’t worth it. I have been taking 10 mg fast dissolve tabs and still not sleeping. And Benedryl does not help at all. As much as I hate to, I’ll be going back to prescriptions.

  24. sally says:

    In an effort of combat insomnia, I have read up on and am experimenting with 5HTP and melatonin. For me, I’ve found that 2 mg of melatonin gives me a headache. 1 mg doesn’t give me a headache, but I have trouble getting up in the morning. So I’m dropping the dose to 1/2mg and will drop it further as needed. I have read and discovered the hard way that the timing in taking melatonin is very important. You have to take it right before bedtime (no earlier) for it to work properly. I tend to agree with the gentleman who wrote in on Sept 22 of 2015, that with melatonin, less is more; and from what I have read, taking melatonin on a regular basis can override the body’s ability to make its own.

    I am only taking melatonin on an “as needed” basis until the 5HTP starts doing its job of helping the body produce its own melatonin. You also have to be patient in finding the right amount of 5HTP for your body. From what I have read, you may need more initially (not more than 300 mg/day) to kick start the process, but then you should gradually cut it back to preferably not more than 50 mg 2x/day, but whatever is right for you for regular maintenance. Also, from what I have read, the correct usage of 5HTP and melatonin should alleviate the need for SSRIs; and in fact, 5HTP and melatonin don’t mix well with SSRIs because they are trying to accomplish the same result from a different approach.

    We are always warned against self medicating and this is good advice in taking drugs and for many this may be good advice even for taking natural remedies. On the other hand, from my experience, doctors can do little more than educated guess work because each of their patients have very different needs. Who can do this educated guess work better than the person most intimately involved with your body, you?!? You can feel your body and so you have insights no doctor can possibly have. I encourage you to read up on these natural substances (find out the side effects, so you can recognize when you’ve had too much and should cut back), experiment a little, listen to your body and don’t get scared away too easily.

    With regard to taking prescription drugs, there is a lot to be said about quality of life at any price; but in the long haul, natural remedies are always better than their drug alternatives, if you can find the right formula for your particular body.

  25. Adrian says:

    I been takeing melatoni for about six months with month brake past two months been getting dihorea and be sick on and of about 6 times over 3 months
    Also woken up a headache today taken ibibrofen normal gets rid any headache but it still there and getting worse spreading from front left side to all front head

  26. Jacque Graveen says:

    Anyone ever heard of..or take..a product called DREM? It is a sleep aid…(systemic formula). I would be curious for feedback on this one.

  27. I have been taking small dose,with chamomile,and valerian root in it from Dollar Tree. I break the pill into quarters 1/4 of a pill works great. I also habe a sore heat leftside. Doesn’t ache just a sorehead won’t go away.

  28. I have been taking small dose,with chamomile,and valerian root in it from Dollar Tree. I break the pill into quarters 1/4 of a pill works great. I also habe a sore heat leftside. Doesn’t ache just a sorehead won’t go away. Its Malatonin. Forgot to say that.

  29. KS says:

    I started taking melatonin about a month ago to help me sleep, which it did. Within about 20 minutes of taking it I could barely keep my eyes open. But now for the past two and ahalf weeks, I have had a headache EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes they are quite severe, other times minimal but annoying. I do suffer from headaches often but not usually for such long periods like this. I was taking anywhere from 5-10mg of melatonin a night. I assumed that since it’s sold in those doses, that would be appropriate, but now after doing some research I found the proper dose is between .3-1mg, much much less than I was taking. I have now been off melatonin for one day and still have a headache. I am going to stay off of it for at least two more weeks to see if that makes a difference. I am glad that I came across this site and hope that it really is just the melatonin. In the future if I do use it, I will try a much smaller dose.

  30. Jim says:

    I have been taking 1mg chewables tablets with no problem, I tried to take 3mg and woke up with a headaches. Back to 1mg headaches are gone.

  31. Susan says:

    I’m have suffered from intractable Migraines for decades, since 3rd grade. Finally sumatriptan was invested and first marketed in 1993, changing my life! I used Imitrex injections until the generic was approved and I use it successfully stop my Migraines within 10 minutes. However, now I am older and have become an insomniac. I follow all the healthy eating, exercising, and other things they say to do but I am suffering for lack of sleep. I do not like to take Ambien or new-fangled sleeping pills. I have very SLOW digestion so I need something instant. I found “Midnight” in the drugstore and used it successfully for several months but then it seemed to lose effectiveness. I bought an off-brand liquid high-dose Melatonin but it gave me daily tension headaches, which I did not initially tie to the Melatonin. When the headaches progressed to Migraines at an alarming rate and I found myself having to inject Imitrex every 24 hours, I figured it out (duh!). After a few days break, I stared Midnight again but it does not work any more. I am going to try Dr. Mercola’s spray as my last resort. Praying to the good Lord it works. Otherwise I will have to stoop to pharmaceuticals. Insomnia is dismissed by doctors more than Migraines! It took me until my mid-30s to find a doctor who didn’t scowl, scoff and tell me to take an Excedrin. “But doctor, when I’m puking my guts out, I can’t take any oral meds!” I am on several old meds that prevent Migraines daily and was doing well, until this insomnia road trip. Thank you for listening/reading. I am only posting so others know that headaches with progression to Migraine is a very REAL AND BAD SIDE EFFECT of Melatonin. Sadly so beware, my friends!

  32. Monica says:

    I stopped using 1/2 dose Benadryl for sleep bc of reading possible relation to dementia. Started taking 3mg melatonin. Took 3 nights in a row. Woke with headache each morning. Not going to take anymore!

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I have had migraines for over 20 years but they became worse and more frequent about 2 years ago; typically several per week. I began seeing a neurologist and tried several prescription meds for preventative therapy but they did not help. I found that in addition to migraines due to excess stress or menstrual cycle, ANY alcohol would trigger a migraine (1 beer, 1 glass of wine, 1 mixed drink – it did not matter what or how much) whereas in the past, only drinking too much alcohol or some wines may cause an issue. Additionally, during this time, I was taking 10 mg of Melatonin (after deciding to go off Ambien and several other prescription meds). I was also taking Magnesium, B complex, and D vitamins which are supposed to help with migraines (no more prescription meds except Sumatriptan at the onset of a migraine). About a month ago, I went off off the Melatonin and vitamins. I have not had a migraine since. I definitely think they were caused by the Melatonin and the alcohol combination and possibly even the stress and menstrual cycle related migraines will lessen now.

  34. Ann says:

    Does anyone get overall muscle & bone aches from melatonin? I wake up everyday with severe pain, and wonder if it’s from melatonin.

  35. Leanne says:

    I’m so glad I looked up info on migraine caused from Melatonin. Thanks for the help all!
    I’ve been taking Melatonin for over a week and have had migraines, nausea, fullness feeling, achy, diareah, dehydration, irritated, depression (which I have not experienced in a very long time) but just put it together tonight before I took them.This is crazy. I’m not taking it tonight or ever again. I haven’t had migraines like this in so so long. NOT WORTH IT! To me anyway. I’ll stick with my insomnia. Thanks again.

  36. Ronnie says:

    I’m sitting here reading this after having woken up with a headache. Again. Mine is in the front. I’ve been taking up to 50 mg because the lower doses weren’t working and I just want to sleep. I get migraines but no increase in them. I used to take Benadryl but I get brain fog the next day and my doctor said to try melatonin. I think I’ll switch back to Benadryl. Also I notice some mornings I’m so tired even though I slept all night. All night for me is that I stayed in bed even if my husbands insomnia woke me up every time he gets up turns the tv really loud and repeats the cycle throughout the night. I’m 53!and he’s 63

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