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Note: Decisions about treatment are for both the prescriber and the person to jointly consider during the consultation. However, the final decision will always be the prescriber’s
More information about Melatonin
Melatonin, also sold as the brand ‘Circadin’, is a medication prescribed to treat primary insomnia. It is designed for short-term use in instances where an individual suffers from a decreased ability to fall asleep or stay asleep - this includes jet lag.
The active ingredient is a synthetic version of the hormone of the same name. Melatonin is naturally produced by your body - production is increased at night, so that your body knows to induce sleep.
By taking additional melatonin, you can treat sleep-related conditions, such as insomnia or jet lag- sleep becomes deeper and more refreshing.
However, Melatonin will not work for all forms of insomnia - only those caused by a lack of the hormone. Where a medical, mental or environmental cause is suspected, a more potent medication may be required. You should contact your doctor if you believe the latter medications may be better suited for you.
Please note, this medication is sold off-label* to those under 55 years of age for insomnia - clinical trials have focussed on older demographics.
*Off-label means that a medicine has not been formally licenced for a specific condition or use. However, healthcare providers are happy to prescribe it as some evidence proving its effectiveness is available.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain - this occurs naturally when it is dark, exposure to light prevents the hormone’s production.
The hormone plays an essential role in maintaining the body's circadian rhythms - this is the internal process that controls when you are conscious and when you sleep - also known as the ‘body clock’.
Unfortunately, as we age, the body produces less of this hormone - some medical conditions can also affect the hormone’s production.
For some individuals, a regular dose of melatonin, taken as a nightly supplement can help to reset their circadian rhythm and promote deep sleep.
When you travel across multiple time zones, this can also offset your circadian rhythm. Taking a dose of melatonin can help in the same way as with insomnia - synthetically encouraging your body to adjust and sleep.
Always follow the advice of your doctor when using any treatment.
For the treatment of insomnia, Melatonin is available as 2mg modified-release (MR) tablets - or 3mg immediate release (IR) tablets off-label.
A complete list of instructions can be found in the patient information leaflet (PIL). The following is a brief summary:
You should not use this medication for more than 13 weeks consecutively. If you find it has no effect on your quality of sleep, please stop taking it and contact your doctor.
If you miss a dose and it is still the evening, take a tablet as soon as you remember. Do not take a double dose, and do not take a dose in the morning to make up for a missed dose.
If you take too many tablets by accident, please seek medical attention. Taking too many tablets will make you feel drowsy.
For the treatment of jet lag, Melatonin is available as 3mg IR tablets - or 2mg MR tablets off-label.
Doses should not be taken before 8 PM or after 4 AM, in order to regulate your sleeping pattern.
You should only use it short-term - do not exceed 16 courses annually.
Melatonin has only been extensively studied for insomnia in those aged 55 and above. Younger patients should be aware that this medication is only available off-label.
The most commonly reported side effects (for over 55s) include:
This list is by no means exhaustive. A full list can be found in the PIL - this is available as a PDF to the right of this page and will also be included with your order.
Should you experience any distressing reactions, stop treatment and inform your doctor.
Melatonin is a prescription medication and as such is not suitable for everyone. Certain health conditions preclude patients from treatment. You should ask your doctor about different treatment if either of the following apply to you:
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or thinking about becoming pregnant, please ask your doctor’s advice before starting this treatment.
If you are currently taking any other medications, either prescription or over-the-counter, then you must inform our doctors as some medications interact with melatonin and affect whether it is suitable for you to take.
This medication will cause drowsiness. You should be cautious when driving or operating machinery.
Smoking, especially heavy smoking, can negatively impact the effectiveness of melatonin.
For further information about side effects, precautions and interactions, please refer to the patient information leaflet.
If you would like to buy this treatment online you will require a valid prescription. Thankfully, the comfortable and secure service of HealthExpress includes both medication and prescription.
All you need to do is complete a quick online consultation form - this will be reviewed by one of our doctors who will then confirm if melatonin is a safe treatment for you.
Once your order has been approved, you will be issued with a valid prescription. Your medication is then packaged discreetly and dispensed with free delivery. You can expect your order the next working day.
|Product name||Melatonin (also known as Circadin)|
|Description||Prescription treatment for insomnia in over 55s (off-label for under 55s) and jet lag|
|Exemption||Subject to medical prescription|
|Available dosage(s)||2 mg MR for insomnia / 3mg IR for jet lag|
|Application||Men and women over 18 with sleep issues|
|Usage||Take 1 tablet a day (with food and water) before bed for insomnia/for jet lag the dose is 1-2 pills at night|
|Drug class||Melatonin receptor agonists|
|Alcohol consumption||Can impact efficacy|
|Breastfeeding/pregnancy||Not recommended, ask your doctor for alternatives|