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Circadin (Melatonin)

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Treatment Information

Table of contents

What Is Circadin (Melatonin)?

Circadin is a treatment for secondary insomnia in adults. Circadin contains a naturally occurring hormone called melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone which influences your sleep-wake cycle daily. It is produced by the pineal gland. While the functions of the pineal gland are not yet fully understood, it does play a key role in regulating the body's natural clock, also known as the circadian rhythm.

Throughout the day, the pineal gland secretes melatonin. The secretion of melatonin can be influenced by environmental factors such as light or darkness.

Light disrupts the production of melatonin which can impact your sleeping patterns. If enough melatonin is not present when you are ready for bed, you may struggle to fall asleep naturally. This difficulty sleeping is known as insomnia.

What Is Melatonin Used For?

Melatonin is used primarily as a short-term treatment for insomnia in adult age of 55. Your doctor will tell you how long you should take melatonin. They may tell you only to take melatonin 2 or 3 times a week.

Melatonin is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat jet lag, which occurs when travelling across time zones.

If you have insomnia, it's important to speak to your doctor to determine the cause of your condition before buying melatonin online. Your doctor will be able to discuss your condition with you and suggest treatments.

How Does Melatonin Help Adjust Circadian Rhythms?

graph showing melatonin time phase

According to Timeshifter, Melatonin tablets can help regulate the sleep cycle by moving the timing of the internal circadian rhythm. Receptors for melatonin are located in the bilateral structure located in the anterior part of the hypothalamus and can reset the rhythms generated by the circadin pacemaker.

Melatonin taken in the evening will shift the clock earlier (a phase advance), whereas melatonin taken in the morning will shift the clock later (a phase delay). Taking melatonin at the right time for the required shift will help reset the clock more quickly when travelling across time zones.

These combined effects of melatonin, when timed properly, will help reset the clock and overcome your jet lag.

How Does Melatonin Work?

Melatonin is a key hormone which promotes and regulates sleepiness. The more melatonin is produced, the sleepier you become.

During the day, when there is natural light, the level of melatonin in the body is low.

During periods of diminished light exposure, such as evenings and during the night, the hypothalamus in the brain triggers the release of melatonin.

Throughout the day, the amount of melatonin in the body gradually increases, reaching its peak at around midnight.

If there is not enough melatonin in the body near bedtime, the body doesn't feel tired, so it can be difficult to fall asleep. By introducing a synthesized melatonin near bedtime, the body can fall naturally into a deep and restful sleep.

How Long Does Melatonin Take to Work?

You may need to take melatonin for a few days before you notice the effects.

For insomnia, melatonin is usually prescribed for up to 4 weeks. If you still experience insomnia after taking melatonin for this prescribed time, speak to your doctor about alternative treatments.

How Does Melatonin Compare to Other Sleeping Aids?

Synthesized melatonin, found in Circadin 2mg, is similar to the natural melatonin produced by the body. As a result, melatonin is well tolerated and unlikely to cause withdrawal symptoms, dependence, cognitive impairment or daytime sedation.

The mechanism of melatonin is more subtle than the mechanism of other sleep aids such as Z-drugs. Unlike non-benzodiazepines, such as Zopiclone, melatonin does not cause immediate drowsiness, nor does it pose a risk of a 'come down once the hormone is metabolised. Instead, melatonin induces a gradual and natural progression to sleep.

How Do I Take Melatonin?

Melatonin is available in a slow-release tablet called Circadin. Each Circadin tablet contains 2mg of melatonin.

Swallow one slow-release tablet whole after food with a glass of water. Circadin should be taken 1 or 2 hours before you intend to go to bed in order to work effectively.

Do not take melatonin during the day. Taking melatonin at the wrong time could shift your circadian rhythm undesirably, reducing the amount of sleep you get at night or causing unwanted drowsiness during the day.

For best results, aim to go to bed at the same time each night and take melatonin up to 2 hours before you go to sleep.

Circadin 2mg is typically prescribed for 21 days in adults with insomnia. After completing treatment with melatonin, you should arrange an appointment with your doctor to review how effective the treatment has been for you.

Other sleep aids, such as benzodiazepines, can worsen the effects of melatonin or render the medicine ineffective.

If you are unsure how to take Circadin, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist for advice.

What Should I Do If I Forget to Take Circadin (Melatonin) When I Should?

If you forget to take melatonin when you should, take it as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.

Do not take more Circadin (melatonin) to make up for the dose you missed.

What Should I Do If I Accidentally Take More Circadin (Melatonin) Than I Should?

If you accidentally take more melatonin than you should, you may feel very sleepy.

Make sure you are in a safe place to sleep off the effects. It will take approximately 12 hours for the effects of melatonin to wear off. After this time, you should avoid driving or operating machinery until you feel well enough to do so.

There is little evidence to suggest that taking too much melatonin can cause significant harm. However, it is imperative that you inform your doctor if you accidentally take more than the prescribed dosage.

For jet lag, melatonin can be used for up to 5 consecutive nights.

Who Can Take Circadin (Melatonin)?

Melatonin is only licensed for use in adults aged 55 years or over to help with short-term sleep problems, but it is often used off-label in other groups of people. However, a specialist may recommend melatonin for adults under the age of 55 with longer-term sleep problems.

Off-Label Use of Circadin (Melatonin)

Off-label use of a medicine means that it is being used for a condition or in a way that is not covered by its license. Melatonin is often used off-label to treat sleep problems in adults under the age of 55. It is also sometimes used off-label to treat other conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

Is It Safe to Take Circadin (Melatonin) Off-Label?

Off-label use of any medicine, including melatonin, can be risky. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of off-label use with your healthcare professional before taking melatonin.

Melatonin Side Effects and Cautions

Before you take Circadin (melatonin), it is important to read the patient information leaflet (PIL) enclosed with your medicine.

This leaflet contains important information, such as instructions on how to use and store your medicine, as well as a complete list of side effects, ingredients and contraindications.

You should always keep the leaflet in case you need to read it in the future.

Due to its ability to initiate a deep and restful sleep pattern, melatonin can indirectly improve daytime functioning.

Who Cannot Take Melatonin?

Circadin may not be suitable if you:

  • are lactose intolerant
  • have an autoimmune disease
  • have diabetes
  • have hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) impairment
  • have or have had an allergic reaction to Circadin (melatonin) in the past

Important: Melatonin must not be taken with other sleep medications such as:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem
  • Zopiclone

If you are unsure whether melatonin (Circadin 2mg) is suitable for you, speak to your doctor. In cases where the medicine is not safe for you, your doctor may recommend or prescribe an alternative treatment.

It is important that you inform our doctor of any other medication you are currently taking, including health supplements, regardless of whether they were prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter at a pharmacy.

Side effects of Melatonin (Circadin)

All medications carry the risk of side effects, though not everybody experiences them. Before taking any medication, it is important to familiarise yourself with the full list of all known side effects, cautions and drug interactions associated with your medicine. This can be found in the patient information leaflet supplied with your medicine.

Melatonin is relatively safe and well tolerated. Clinical trials show that melatonin has a low incidence of adverse effects. There is no evidence that states it causes dependence, nor that the treatments cause daytime sleepiness, as seen in other hypnotic medications.

While melatonin is well tolerated, there is still a chance melatonin (Circadin) may cause side effects in some people.

Common side effects of melatonin include:

  • Feeling sleepy or tired
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache or feeling sick (nausea)
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • Strange dreams or night sweats

These side effects have been observed in patients taking melatonin.

If you experience any of the following side effects, stop taking melatonin (Circadin) immediately and inform your doctor.

Uncommon melatonin side effects include:

  • Chest pain

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. Further information regarding the safety of Circadin, including a full list of side effects, can be found in the patient information leaflet (PIL) enclosed with your treatment.

The patient information leaflet for Circadin (melatonin) can also be viewed online.

Melatonin Allergic Reaction

Do not take melatonin (Circadin) if you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed in the patient information leaflet.

If you experience an allergic reaction to melatonin (Circadin), stop taking medicine and seek emergency medical attention by going straight to your nearest casualty department. Remember to take the packaging and any remaining medicine with you so the doctors know exactly what you took.

Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Dry, red, cracked skin
  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, eyes, face or throat
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

Melatonin During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Taking melatonin is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

For more information regarding the safety of melatonin during pregnancy and breastfeeding, speak to your doctor.

Other safety information

Always read the enclosed patient information leaflet before you take Circadin.

Do not take melatonin past the expiry date printed on the packaging.

Do not throw away melatonin via household or water waste. Take any unwanted or expired medication to your local pharmacy and ask them to dispose of them safely on your behalf.

Always store medicines out of sight and reach from children and pets.

Never share your medicine with anyone else, even if they are experiencing the same symptoms as you.

Where Can I Buy Circadin (Melatonin) Online in the UK?

At Prescription Doctor, purchasing Circadin tablets (melatonin) for jet lag treatment is both simple and secure. You can place an order online through our GPhC-registered pharmacy, ensuring that you receive a genuine and quality-assured medication.

If you finalise your order before 3pm on a weekday, our dedicated pharmacy team will dispatch it on the same day, providing you with the benefit of next-day delivery. This ensures that you can begin or continue your jet lag treatment without any unnecessary delays. Trust our 4.7/5 rating on TrustPilot and take the first step towards a restful night's sleep with Circadin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Melatonin (Circadin)

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Melatonin?

You should not consume alcohol while taking melatonin as this can reduce melatonin's effectiveness or cause undesired effects, such as excessive drowsiness or restless sleep.

Will Melatonin Affect My Contraception?

Melatonin is not known to decrease the effectiveness of contraceptive pills. However, contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase the levels of melatonin in your body. Speak to your doctor for further information and advice.

Is Melatonin Addictive?

When taken as prescribed, melatonin is unlikely to lead to addiction. Your doctor will usually prescribe melatonin for the shortest time to ensure your safety. If you are concerned about becoming addicted to any medicine prescribed to you, speak to your doctor for advice.

Why Is Melatonin Only Recommended for People Over the Age of 55?

Melatonin production in people over the age of 55 is typically slower. Circadin is a slow-release melatonin supplement that is designed to help people over the age of 55 who are experiencing sleep problems due to low melatonin levels.

How Long Does It Take for Melatonin to Leave the Body?

Melatonin is metabolised very quickly and can be expected to leave the body within 12 hours after administration.

Will Melatonin Make Me Drowsy?

Melatonin is not a sedative and will not cause you to fall asleep immediately after taking it. However, it can help to prepare your body for sleep. If taken correctly, you should awake feeling refreshed and well-rested. If you feel tired during the day after taking melatonin, speak to your doctor.

Will Melatonin Affect My Ability to Drive or Operate Machinery?

It is advised not to drive or operate machinery for up to 8 hours after taking melatonin. If you feel sleepy in the morning after taking melatonin, it is strongly advised not to drive, ride a bike, operate machinery or perform any activity which may put you in danger if you are not fully alert.

Is Melatonin Illegal in the UK?

Melatonin is not illegal in the UK but requires a medical prescription.

Where Can I Buy Melatonin Online in the UK?

You can buy melatonin online from Prescription Doctor's safe and secure online pharmacy. Our online prescribers are available to determine whether melatonin is suitable for you.

Is Circadin (Melatonin) Available Over the Counter in the UK?

Circadin 2mg is only available on prescription and cannot be bought over the counter. While melatonin supplements are available in some countries from health food shops, melatonin is not licensed as a health supplement in the UK and cannot be bought over the counter.

Who Is Circadin (Melatonin) Licensed for Use In?

Circadin (melatonin) is licensed for use in adults aged 55 years or over to help with short-term sleep problems.

Can People Under the Age of 55 Take Circadin (Melatonin)?

Yes, but Circadin (Melatonin) is not licensed for use in people under the age of 55. It is often used off-label in this group of people, but it is important to talk to your healthcare professional before taking melatonin if you are under the age of 55.


NHS, 2018. Insomnia.

NHS, 2019. Melatonin.

Flynn Pharma Ltd., 2020. Circadin 2mg Prolonged-release Tablets: Summary of Product Characteristics

Treatment information

  • Product Name: Circadin
  • Active Ingredient(s): Melatonin
  • Manufacturer: Lundbeck
  • Administration: Oral
  • Presentation: White round biconvex shaped tablets
  • Available Strength: 2 mg prolonged-release
  • Exemption: Prescription only medication
  • Application: Men and women
  • Dosage: 2 mg once daily, 1-2 hours before bedtime and after food.
  • Description: Circadin is used on its own for the short-term treatment of primary insomnia
  • Alcohol consumption: Avoid alcohol consumption
  • When pregnant: Do not take Circadin if you are pregnant
  • When breastfeeding: Do not take Circadin if you are breastfeeding
  • Price: 18.99 GBP
Click here to view the Circadin (Melatonin) - Patient Information Leaflet

Authored By

Mohamed Imran

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 18/01/2017

Reviewed By

Dr Giuseppe Aragona
Dr. Giuseppe utilises his extensive experience in general practice to ensure the accuracy and safety of the website's content.

Reviewed on: 13/03/2024
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