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How to Take Melatonin Safely With a Fever (6 Ways)

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  • This article has been written and medically reviewed by Darshan Shingala (M.D, MPH) – a qualified and practicing medical doctor – for maximum factual accuracy and reliability.

Melatonin is a popular and effective supplement to help aid sleep.

And if you have a fever, then you may be finding it difficult to get to sleep.

So is it safe to take melatonin when you have a fever or not?

It is generally considered safe to take between 0.5 mg and 2 mg of melatonin per night when you have a fever if you are not already taking medication, have a pre-existing medical condition, or make up a vulnerable population – in which case you should first consult your doctor.

The rest of this article explores in more detail how to take melatonin safely when you have a fever.

Although this article was written by a qualified and practicing medical doctor, it’s no substitute for the advice of your own doctor – who will be able to give you specific guidance.

Related: click here to discover 9 ways to sleep better with a fever.

6 Ways to Take Melatonin Safely With a Fever

Try these 6 steps to help you take melatonin safely when you have a fever:

1: Ask Your Doctor About Drug Interactions

If you have a fever, your doctor is likely to prescribe you an antipyretic drug such as acetaminophen/paracetamol (like DayQuil) or ibuprofen.

But is it safe to combine melatonin with acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen?

It is generally considered safe to take melatonin at the same time as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen since there are no known major drug interactions but this doesn’t mean they don’t exist – so it is recommended that you take melatonin alone unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

Fever – also referred to as pyrexia – is a complex physiologic phenomenon involving a cytokine-mediated rise in core body temperature as a defensive response of the host to the invasion of microorganisms.

In the case of having a fever or any other inflammatory reaction, supplementing with melatonin may be helpful because of melatonin’s ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (1).

However, I highly recommend that you consult your primary care doctor prior to making any changes to your prescription such as combining a melatonin supplement with any antipyretic drug.

Drugs that should not be taken at the same time as melatonin include anticoagulants and anti-platelets (clotting risk), anti-convulsants (increased seizure risk), blood pressure drugs (blood pressure increase), CNS depressants, diabetes drugs, contraceptives, diazepam, fluvoxamine, and immunosuppressants.

A detailed discussion with your doctor is absolutely essential for unmasking the real underlying disease, obtaining an accurate diagnosis, and getting a better prognosis.

After conducting a comprehensive medical evaluation, your physician may ask you to continue, discontinue or change the dosage of the melatonin supplement depending on your health status, age, and other drug interactions to minimize the possibility of any adverse reactions.

Click here to discover 31 causes of morning fever.

2: Get More Sunlight to Boost Melatonin and Combat Fever

If you have a fever and you are taking medication that shouldn’t be combined with melatonin then a natural way to increase melatonin levels to get better sleep is to expose yourself to more sunlight because this can help to set your body clock.

More specifically, I usually tell my patients that in order to get a sound sleep at night, it is very important to soak up an ample amount of sunlight during the daytime.

It is essential to increase your exposure to natural sunlight so that you can recalibrate your biorhythm and boost your melatonin production during the night.

Some scientific studies have demonstrated that increasing our exposure to higher intensities of natural light waves can help improve the quality and duration of our sleep.

Many research studies have shown that spending time in the sun, and thus absorbing more immune-boosting vitamin D, is associated with managing a variety of inflammatory symptoms, such as those experienced during a fever (2).

However, I would like to emphasize the importance of applying a good quality sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and re-applying the sunscreen every two to three hours during the day in order to minimize the risk of developing sun-related skin damage and various types of skin cancers.

Hence, to summarize, I would say that natural sunlight is not only the key to boosting our immune system but it also substantially helps in the timely synthesis of melatonin which is a light-sensitive and sleep-inducing hormone.

Click here to discover 13 ways to sleep better with sunburn.

3: Take Melatonin 2-3 Hours Before Bedtime

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in our body – which is not typically the case with other commercially available sleeping pills.

Therefore, taking melatonin right before going to bed like other sleeping pills may not be as beneficial for you.

In my professional opinion, it would be best if you take your melatonin supplement at least two to three hours before your desired sleeping time to allow the gradual onset of sleep.

It is also interesting to note that, unlike other sleeping pills, melatonin can have some anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects on our body.

These anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects can be especially advantageous for us if we are down with a fever.

If you are recovering from an inflammatory condition that elevates your immune response and core body temperature – causing a fever – melatonin can be quite therapeutic for you due to its potential to lower the body’s temperature and decrease the overall production of inflammatory cytokines (3).

Many patients who are recovering from a high fever complain that they get restless during the evening hours and experience sleeping problems because they usually tend to wake up in the middle of the night with fever-associated chills.

Being unable to sleep through the night is a common complaint among patients who are recovering from a high fever.

Some studies show that most of the inflammatory responses of our body, including fevers, tend to peak during the night time.

This can be explained by a similar healthy physiological body temperature, which tends to be the lowest in the morning and highest toward the end of the day (4).

Hence, melatonin will not only help you to obtain a good night’s sleep but it will also help your body to battle the ongoing inflammation while you are sleeping.

I would recommend that if you take any form of melatonin supplementation when you have a fever, consider scheduling your melatonin dose in a way that will allow you to space out your melatonin supplement and antipyretic drugs so that you can avoid any possible drug interactions between your medications.

Click here to find out if a lack of sleep is causing your fever.

4: Take 0.5mg to 2mg of Melatonin Per Night

As humans, we are generally tempted to think that if a little bit of something has worked for us, then increasing the dosage would help us to get the maximum benefit.

However, this formula does not always work, especially in the case of medicinal products.

So how much melatonin should you take to get to sleep?

It is recommended that you do not take more than 2mg of melatonin in a 24 hour period – with the best dose being calculated by a doctor who will consider your age, weight, pre-existing medical conditions, medications being taken, and if you have a fever.

Many studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects and therapeutic potential of melatonin; hence, I usually prescribe melatonin to many of my patients who are struggling with a sleeping disorder, or those patients who seek to overcome their jet lag (5).

There is some anecdotal evidence stating that in addition to alleviating sleep-related problems, melatonin may also help in reducing ongoing inflammation, stress, anxiety, and managing emotions and mood swings.

I would not recommend that you self-medicate or try to use melatonin as a substitute for any other medications. This is important because in many instances, melatonin may provide symptomatic relief but it may not be able to treat the underlying cause of the disease.

For example, in case of a mild fever, melatonin may help temporarily, but if the causative agent or disease is not diagnosed in a timely manner, the situation may get out of control and the disease may exacerbate quickly.

It would be best to approach your doctor prior to making any changes to the prescription yourself.

In most cases, to avoid the risk of masking the symptoms of any real underlying diseases, your doctor is likely to prescribe you a low-dose melatonin supplement for only a short time period, such as up to 2 weeks.

Click here for 8 ways to get to sleep without relying on benzodiazepines.

5: Avoid Light Emitting Devices 2-3 Hours Before Bed

I would strongly recommend that you avoid using any light-emitting devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, televisions, or tablets right before going to bed because melatonin is a light-sensitive hormone, and exposure to bright light will most likely neutralize its effects.

If you use electronic devices closer to bedtime, your body would receive multiple mixed signals and this would eventually sabotage your sleep-wake cycle.

Scientific literature has proven that artificially lit surroundings can substantially enhance alertness and hamper sleep during the night (7).

Hence, I would suggest that you turn off all your electronic devices and observe a no-screen period of at least two to three hours before going to bed.

I would also recommend that you turn on the blue light filter setting in your mobile phone and laptop.

In addition to being mindful about the usage of electronic gadgets closer to bedtime, adjusting the light settings in your bedroom can also facilitate your sleeping routine.

For instance, you can consider switching to warmer tone lamps in your bedroom and avoid excessively bright or flashy lights.

In general, a dark and cozy bedroom would be ideal for you to sleep in since it will help you to synthesize more melatonin and fall asleep rather quickly.

It is needless to mention that the better you sleep, the sooner you will be able to recover from your fever.

Moreover, improved melatonin synthesis will help your body to overcome the inflammatory status of your body.

Click here for 10 ways to stop sleep apnea from causing weight gain.

6: Only Take Melatonin at Night

It is well known that light waves are associated with decreased sleepiness, hence, I would advise you not to take melatonin in the morning as it may lead to daytime drowsiness, decreased productivity, and mood swings.

Some studies show that taking melatonin during the daytime is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents, worsening of insomnia, hormonal imbalance, acne, and depression (8).

Therefore, as a safety measure, I would recommend you to avoid consuming melatonin supplements during the day by all means.

Furthermore, you must also try to maintain a good sleeping routine to facilitate falling asleep quickly at night.

This can be achieved by having a light meal for dinner, limiting the consumption of caffeine during the day, and avoiding taking naps in the evening.

If you work night shifts then try these 19 ways to black out your room for better sleep.

Guide to Taking Melatonin for Better Sleep

Below is a short guide that answers some common questions about melatonin and explains how to take melatonin for better sleep:

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin, also chemically labeled as n-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a naturally secreted hormone in our body.

It is produced by the enigmatic pineal gland in response to darkness.

The synthesis of melatonin involves multiple steps; it begins from the essential aromatic amino acid called tryptophan, which is hydroxylated, then converted into serotonin, and subsequently converted into melatonin.

Melatonin is also popularly referred to as the sleep hormone since it induces sleep when released into the bloodstream at night (6).

How Does Melatonin Help With Sleep?

Melatonin is responsible for the regulation of our circadian rhythm.

The natural secretion of melatonin hormone is synchronized through the entry of light waves into the eyes and then the signals are transferred between the optic nerve and the pineal gland.

Among adults, melatonin levels gradually start rising in the mid to late evening hours, which is equivalent to approximately two to three hours before bedtime for most individuals.

Melatonin levels remain high throughout the night, and as the sun rises, and our body gains more exposure to sunlight, the melatonin levels begin to drop gradually.

It is interesting to note that with increasing age, the natural production of melatonin tends to decrease.

Based on the natural pattern of synthesis and secretion of the melatonin hormone, it is safe to say that the commercially available synthetic formulations of melatonin can be used as a night time dietary supplement to recalibrate the sleep-wake cycle.

Supplementation with melatonin is most commonly indicated for patients who tend to struggle with falling asleep due to decreased levels of melatonin in their bodies or due to high levels of stress hormones.

Is Melatonin Safe for the Kidneys?

Melatonin is generally considered to be safe for the kidneys and may actually be beneficial for their function by acting as a natural anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-remodeling agent that may prove to be effective against many kidney diseases (9).

Some studies have shown that melatonin has pluripotent protective effects in many organs systems, including the kidneys.

Many studies show that melatonin reduces the oxidative burden of the body which in turn prevents the impairment of renal function (10).

Furthermore, melatonin has actually been demonstrated to improve iron metabolism in hemodialyzed patients (11).

How Much Melatonin Should be Taken for Better Sleep?

In general, melatonin is a prescription-only drug in most countries and its dosage varies from patient to patient, but most commonly, a dose in the range of 0.5 mg to 2 mg – taken up to two hours before bedtime – is effective and well-tolerated by the vast majority of patients.

A safe dose for melatonin depends on a variety of different factors such as age, body weight, comorbidities, and other medications the patient is consuming.

I would personally advocate against over-the-counter melatonin supplements as those are not monitored by doctors or regulated by the health care authorities in many countries.

It is also important to note that taking melatonin supplements can influence or alter the natural production of melatonin.

Hence, I strongly encourage you to speak to your health care provider if you are considering taking any form of supplements so that they can prescribe the correct dose for you.

What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?

It is quite likely that relying solely on melatonin supplementation for regular sleep may mask some other underlying conditions.

Although melatonin can be considered to be generally safe for most people, you could still experience some mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, an upset stomach, general anxiety, mood swings, crankiness, daytime sleepiness, and/or a feeling of heavy headedness.

Melatonin does not cause a fever, tiredness, irritability, or decreased productivity the next day if taken as prescribed by a health care provider.

As per my professional experience, short-term use of melatonin does not cause any major side effects, however, there is inadequate evidence on its long-term safety.

Hence, it is imperative that you consult your healthcare provider prior to taking any supplementation.

Should You Take Melatonin to Help You Sleep?

If you belong to any of the sensitive population groups such as children, adolescents, pregnant and nursing mothers, I would advise you to be very careful while consuming any form of supplements to avoid undesired complications.

It is very important that you notify your physician about any other health conditions that you have – including disclosure of pregnancy – since there have been some cases of associated adverse effects of melatonin reported during pregnancy.

I would also recommend that you discuss your current prescription with your doctor to avoid any unnecessary drug interactions.

Consuming melatonin may cause serious side effects among people who are already on blood-thinning medication, drug therapy to help manage diabetes, antihypertensive drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, contraceptives, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Can You Take Melatonin With Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen?

As per the available scientific literature, there isn’t much data documenting drug interactions between melatonin and ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or Tylenol (12).

However, simply because there have been no reports of any serious interactions between melatonin and ibuprofen, acetaminophen or Tylenol yet does not imply that there cannot be any potential adverse effects arising due to these drug interactions.

In other words, there is always a possibility of adverse reactions because each medication is accompanied by some side effects which may be potentiated upon interactions with other drugs.

Since we know that ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and Tylenol are associated with some risks to the liver and kidneys, it is advisable to take melatonin alone and avoid taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or Tylenol in conjunction with melatonin.

Also, do not alter, start, pause, or stop the dosage of any aforementioned drugs without consulting with your health care provider.

Conclusion: Always Consult With a Doctor First

Whilst the chances of experiencing an adverse reaction to taking melatonin alone when you have a fever are low, it’s always recommended that you get professional medical advice from your doctor first.

Personalized medical advice is essential if you are already on other medications, have underlying medical conditions, or make up a vulnerable population in order to avoid any complications.

It’s also recommended that you talk to your doctor about the cause of your fever if you don’t already know since a fever can be a symptom of many different conditions – some of them very serious.

Up next: Click here to discover 31 causes of early morning fever.


Sources and References

[1] Science Direct – Melatonin Possesses an Anti-influenza Potential through its Immune-Modulatory Effect https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619302452 Accessed 11/8/21.

[2] NCBI – Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/ Accessed 11/8/21.

[3] Science Direct – Melatonin Possesses an Anti-influenza Potential through its Immune-Modulatory Effect https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464619302452 Accessed 11/8/21.

[4] Fever Incidence Is Much Lower in the Morning than the Evening: Boston and US National Triage Data https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7390559/ Accessed 11/8/21.

[5] Anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159121000386 Accessed 11/8/21.

[6] Physiology of the Pineal Gland and Melatonin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK550972/ Accessed 11/8/21.

[7] Daytime melatonin and light independently affect human alertness and body temperature https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpi.12583 Accessed 11/8/21.

[8] Daytime melatonin and light independently affect human alertness and body temperature https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpi.12583 Accessed 11/8/21.

[9] Melatonin in chronic kidney disease: a promising chronotherapy targeting the intrarenal renin–angiotensin system https://www.nature.com/articles/s41440-019-0223-9 Accessed 11/8/21.

[10] Cyst Reduction by Melatonin in a Novel Drosophila Model of Polycystic Kidney Disease https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/22/5477 Accessed 11/8/21.

[11] Melatonin and renal protection: novel perspectives from animal experiments and human studies (review) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25269563/ Accessed 11/8/21.

[12] Potential drug interactions with melatonin https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24732412/ Accessed 11/8/21.

Medical Disclaimer

No part of this article or website offers medical advice – always consult with your doctor or a qualified medical professional for the best advice for you.

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