According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep. Others may experience poor sleep or insomnia. But melatonin, a widely available supplement, may help with several sleep issues.

Research from 2014 reported that it shows promise in the treatment of insomnia among healthy adults. Some people also use it for jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), and anxiety before or after surgery.

If you’re on the hunt for a quality melatonin supplement, consider one of these top choices.

How we chose

We made this list by looking at the following factors:

  • Brand reputation. This includes whether the brand has been subject to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter.
  • Ingredient transparency. Packaging for all products on our list states exactly what’s in each dose.
  • Customer reviews. All of these products have rave reviews on retail sites.
  • Product quality. We looked for objective indicators of quality, including:

We aimed to present supplements with a variety of price points, application methods, ingredients, and flavors.

Pricing guide

Alongside each product on this list, you’ll find a dollar sign indicating the following price ranges per 50 doses:

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best gummies

Vicks ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs Gummies

Price: $$

Each blackberry-vanilla-flavored gummy contains 6 mg of melatonin per dose, which is 2 gummies. The formula also contains ashwagandha, an herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress and anxiety, and valerian root, which promotes sleep.

Be aware that both substances pose some risks. For instance, they may interfere with medication. People who are pregnant shouldn’t take valerian.

Best tablets

Best spray

Best lozenges

Best liquid

Best capsules

How does melatonin work?

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in your brain. It helps to control your day-night rhythm, also known as your circadian rhythm, by making you feel sleepy when it’s dark. It likely has other functions as well.

Melatonin supplements are usually synthetic, but they can also be extracted from animals or other organisms. When you take melatonin supplements, they work the same way as the naturally occurring version of the hormone.

How to shop

Melatonin is considered a dietary supplement by the FDA. Unlike prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, dietary supplements aren’t subject to approval by the FDA.

Still, supplement manufacturers must provide accurate safety information about their products. They may be penalized for making false claims.

That doesn’t mean all supplement brands are trustworthy. When shopping, you might want to consider buying from a big-chain drugstore where you can talk to a pharmacist about the product. Well-known chains may be less likely to stock fraudulent products.

In addition to factors such as price, flavor, route of administration, and dose, you’ll want to assess the product label and packaging. Look for the following:

  • Does the label make claims that sound too good to be true? For instance, does it claim to cure insomnia? Exaggerated claims can signal a scam.
  • Where is the product made? Opt for products manufactured in the United States.
  • Has the company or product received an FDA warning letter or recall alert? If so, you’ll want to steer clear of it.
  • Are the ingredients listed? Does the supplement contain ingredients that are forbidden by the FDA?
  • Does the product have a USP verification mark or NSF certification? This signals that the ingredients in the product correspond to those on the label.

How to use

Not all melatonin supplements are the same. Read and follow the label carefully. If you’re not sure what to do, ask a pharmacist for instructions on how to take melatonin.

You can take between 0.5 and 10 mg of melatonin per day. It’s best to start with a lower dose and work your way up to a higher dose if needed.

Take it about 30 minutes before you go to bed.

Little is known about the long-term effects of taking melatonin. If you find you have to take melatonin most nights for more than 1 month, you should talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying sleep disorders.

Safety and side effects

According to research from 2016, using melatonin in the short term is safe for most people. The research determined that only mild side effects have been reported. These include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • drowsiness

There’s still very little research on melatonin safety among children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Since melatonin is a hormone, it could interfere with other hormonal functions, such as puberty or lactation.

In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine discourages melatonin use among people with dementia.

Melatonin can interact with other drugs and supplements. If you’re taking OTC or prescription medication or other supplements, it’s especially important to talk with your doctor before taking it.

Takeaway

Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy when it’s dark outside. Taking a melatonin supplement may improve sleep quality.

There are hundreds of melatonin supplements on the market, including capsules, tablets, gummies, liquids, and sprays. It’s important to evaluate the manufacturer’s claims critically when shopping for a supplement.

Always ask a doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure about a product. Consult with your doctor before trying any new supplement.