Your Melatonin Gummies May Have More Than You Bargained For

What's on the label may not be what's in the gummy, according to a new study.

Melatonin has been a go-to aid for many people dealing with sleep issues or jet lag. That's despite the fact that its production and use has been largely unregulated, as the FDA does not review dietary supplements like melatonin. But a new study found that you may be getting more than you bargained for when you use melatonin gummies.

The study, published this week in JAMA, analyzed the contents of 25 different brands of melatonin gummies, measuring for the amount of melatonin and CBD in each one. The study found that most of the products—22 out of 25—were labeled incorrectly. The amount of melatonin in the products ranged from 74 percent to a whopping 347 percent of what the label said—and most of the products erred on the side of too much melatonin, rather than too little. For melatonin gummies that also contained CBD, every gummy had more CBD than the label stated.


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And that's a problem for many people who take melatonin—especially when these gummies are often given to kids when they can't sleep. The study notes that melatonin use in kids caused nearly 28,000 ER visits and over 4,000 hospitalizations over the past decade.

"The findings from this study were concerning but not surprising," says Funke Afolabi-Brown, M.D., a board-certified sleep physician. "The use of melatonin has increased astronomically in children and adults, and unfortunately, without FDA regulation, there is no appropriate oversight with the manufacturers."

And keep in mind that any melatonin gummy you take supplies far more melatonin than your body would naturally produce. The human body generally produces .01 to .08 milligrams at night, according to the National Institutes of Health. Melatonin supplements offer 1 to 5 milligrams, which can be hundreds of times more melatonin than your body naturally creates.

So should you take melatonin?

Afolabi-Brown is definitely on the side of being conservative with using melatonin, especially in light of this study. "I recommend more than ever that people check with their doctors prior to taking melatonin, given the lack of regulation and inconsistent composition of these formulations and with these findings," she says.

You could experience some not-so-pleasant side effects (beyond the sleepiness you're looking for) if you take too much melatonin, including nausea, headaches, and agitation, according to the National Poison Center. With CBD, you could experience a decreased appetite, nausea, and diarrhea from taking too large a dose.

Melatonin has also been shown to have the most impact on helping with jet lag or specific sleep disorders, like delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, according to the Sleep Foundation, while studies are mixed on its use for simple insomnia.

Alternatives to help you sleep better

If you're taking melatonin to help you sleep, there may be other methods to get the same result—without worrying about inconsistent dosing in melatonin and CBD products.

"Rather than needing to rely on a supplement for sleep, I recommend addressing the underlying sleep issue, practicing healthy sleep habits, and spending time outdoors to help regulate your circadian rhythm," Afolabi-Brown says. "This will ensure adequate production of your body's natural melatonin."

Look to good sleep hygiene habits to help you catch some quality ZZZs, like reducing exposure to bright light or blue lights in the lead up to bedtime, keeping your bedroom at a proper sleeping temperature, or avoiding a late night snack or drink. That could help you sleep better—no gummy required.

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  1. Cohen PA, Avula B, Wang, Y-H, et al. Quantity of melatonin and CBD in melatonin gummies sold in the US. JAMA. 2023;329(16):1401-1402. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.2296

  2. Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food Nutr Res. 2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252. doi:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252

  3. Sleep Foundation. Melatonin and Sleep. Accessed May 4, 2023.

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