Melatonin Side Effects for Elderly People

Melatonin Side Effects for Elderly People


The older we get, we might find it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders among elderly.

Taking melatonin is fairly safe for most healthy adults, though there may be a different risk for older people. 

 

Sleeping less as we age 

Getting less sleep as we age can be characterized by shorter durations of sleep, more naps, increasingly disrupted sleep, and taking longer to fall asleep.

This is largely due to the changes in our body. As we get older, we produce less suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythm. Less SCN has been found correlated to disruptions in this rhythm, which affects biological processes like sleep. 

These changes might also contribute to why we produce less melatonin as you age as well, another factor that could play a role in decreased sleep. 

 

How much sleep should elderly people get?

People in the senior age group ideally need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. But as we age, it gets harder to get that much. 

 

Can elderly people use melatonin?

In trials concerning elderly people with insomnia, the use of melatonin was found to have some general improvements in sleep quality, supporting its potential benefits. 

Because we naturally produce less melatonin as we age, older people might be more sensitive to larger amounts of melatonin supplements. Elderly people who want to use melatonin should speak with their physician before use.

We recommend starting at the smallest dose possible before increasing your dosage.

Read more about melatonin as a sleep aid for elderly people

 

Side effects of taking too much melatonin for elderly people

Because our sensitivity to melatonin changes as we age, your risk for experiencing these side effects may also vary. 

Some side effects might include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or grogginess 
  • Feeling tired in the morning 
  • Elevations or drops in blood pressure 
  • Nightmares 

 

There are some reported fracture risks due to falls with using melatonin, although the same can be said with using sleeping pills. Elderly people should be cautious about when and where they take melatonin supplements.  

One study notes additional benefits to melatonin being that it is hard to abuse as there are no withdrawal symptoms from using it. This same study suggests melatonin might be considered as a healthier alternative to using sleeping pills.

If you have existing health conditions such as those that affect your blood pressure or have previously experienced negative side effects from taking melatonin before, consult with your physician before using melatonin supplements.