Melatonin is a hormone that is normally produced by a small gland called the pineal gland that sits near the brain. It helps in getting children with sleep problems off to sleep by mimicking the normal sleep cycle.
In the UK, melatonin is available in a modified release preparation called “melatonin MR”, this is also sold under the commercial name “Circadin” which comes in 2mg tablets.
The usual starting dose for melatonin MR is 2mg which can then be increased after 1-2 week periods by 2mg upto a maximum dose of 10mg. This is summarised in the table below.
Some doctors recommend crushing the tablets to induce sleep more quickly but if this is done then expect the effects to not last as long.
The safety data for children is limited but the data from adults shows a reasonably good side effect profile. The full side effect profile can be seen in the Summary of product characteristics
It is important to understand that melatonin is a hormone and that although it appears to be safe in the short term, we do not know what it’s effects are going to be in the long-term.