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.

23 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!

  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?

  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.

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