Melatonin and sleep apnea

Many struggle with sleep, and melatonin, a natural sleep hormone, is a popular choice to combat sleeplessness. However, for those with sleep apnea, the relationship between melatonin and sleep quality gets more complex. This article delves into the connection between melatonin and sleep apnea, exploring its potential benefits and limitations.


Melatonin: The Sleep Regulator

Melatonin, produced by the pineal gland, plays a crucial role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. Darkness triggers melatonin production, signaling to our body that it’s time to wind down. Melatonin levels rise gradually in the evening, promoting sleepiness and maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated breathing pauses or shallow breaths during sleep. Two main types exist:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The most common form, OSA occurs when relaxed throat muscles block the airway, causing breathing pauses.
  • Central sleep apnea: Less frequent, central sleep apnea arises when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.

Both types disrupt sleep quality, leading to daytime fatigue, headaches, and increased health risks.

Why Explore the Melatonin-Sleep Apnea Link?

Given melatonin’s role in sleep regulation and the sleep disturbances caused by apnea, exploring their connection is crucial. Can melatonin supplementation improve sleep in individuals with sleep apnea?

Melatonin and Sleep Apnea – The Connection

While melatonin promotes sleep, it also relaxes muscles. This relaxation, beneficial for falling asleep, might be problematic in sleep apnea, particularly OSA. Relaxed upper airway muscles due to sleep apnea can worsen airway blockage.

Melatonin Dosage for Sleep Apnea

General Melatonin Dosing

Melatonin dosages for sleep regulation typically range from 0.5mg to 10mg, with lower doses recommended for beginners.

Sleep Apnea Dosage Research

Research on optimal melatonin dosages specifically for sleep apnea is limited. However, some studies suggest melatonin might be ineffective or even counterproductive for OSA patients.

Dosage Factors

Dosage can be influenced by factors like age, the severity of sleep apnea, and individual response. It is critical to get individualized advice from a healthcare practitioner. 

Effects of Melatonin in Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Overview

OSA symptoms include loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and morning headaches. If left untreated, it might result in major health issues. 

Melatonin Supplementation Research in OSA

Studies on the effects of melatonin in untreated OSA have yielded mixed results. Some suggest it might improve sleep onset but not necessarily sleep quality or apnea severity.

Benefits and Limitations

Melatonin might offer limited benefits for those with untreated OSA. While it could help with falling asleep, it might not address the underlying airway blockage issue.

Melatonin and Sleep Apnea with CPAP

CPAP Therapy Explained

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP uses a mask to deliver a constant stream of air pressure, keeping the airway open during sleep.

Combining Melatonin and CPAP

Studies on the combined use of melatonin and CPAP are ongoing. Some suggest melatonin might improve sleep quality in individuals already using CPAP.

Synergistic Effects

Melatonin, along with CPAP, could potentially offer additional benefits in managing sleep apnea symptoms and improving overall sleep quality.

Best Melatonin for Sleep Apnea

Melatonin Supplement Forms

Melatonin comes in various forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, and chewables.

Choosing a Supplement for Sleep Apnea

Individuals with sleep apnea should consult a healthcare professional before using melatonin. Choosing a slow-release form might be more suitable than immediate-release options.

Recommendations Based on Research

Research on the best melatonin form for sleep apnea is limited. Consulting a doctor for personalized recommendations based on individual needs is crucial.

Melatonin’s Effect on Sleep Apnea

Mechanisms of Melatonin’s Influence

The mechanisms of how melatonin might influence sleep apnea are still being explored. It might have antioxidant properties that could benefit sleep apnea patients.

Melatonin Supplementation Research

Research on the impact of melatonin on sleep apnea symptoms is ongoing. Some studies suggest potential benefits in reducing apnea episodes and improving sleep quality, while others show limited effects.

Long-Term Effects

Further research is needed to understand the long-term effects of melatonin use in managing sleep apnea.

Melatonin and Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea Introduction

Central sleep apnea (CSA) differs from OSA. In CSA, the brain fails to send proper signals to the breathing muscles, leading to breathing pauses during sleep. Unlike OSA, CSA doesn’t involve airway blockage from relaxed muscles.

Melatonin and CSA Research

Limited research exists on melatonin’s effects on CSA. Some studies suggest melatonin might improve sleep quality in some individuals with CSA. However, further study is required to corroborate these conclusions.

Melatonin’s Role in Managing CSA Symptoms

Melatonin’s potential role in managing CSA symptoms remains unclear. Since CSA doesn’t involve airway blockage, muscle relaxation caused by melatonin might not be detrimental. However, further investigation is needed to determine its effectiveness in improving sleep quality and reducing breathing pauses in CSA patients.

Can Melatonin Cause Snoring?

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when relaxed tissues in the airway vibrate as air passes through.

Melatonin and Snoring Exacerbation

While melatonin can relax muscles, research suggests it likely doesn’t worsen snoring in individuals without sleep apnea. However, for those with OSA, melatonin might theoretically worsen snoring due to further airway relaxation.

Research and Expert Opinions

Studies on the direct link between melatonin and snoring are inconclusive. Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial to determine if melatonin use is appropriate and wouldn’t exacerbate snoring or OSA symptoms.

Also Read: Can you have Sleep Apnea without Snoring? Find Now


This article explored the complex relationship between sleep apnea and melatonin. Melatonin’s role in sleep regulation and the sleep disruptions caused by sleep apnea create a situation where its benefits might be limited. While research on melatonin for sleep apnea is ongoing, its effectiveness, particularly for OSA, remains unclear.


Individuals with sleep apnea, especially OSA, should consult a doctor before using melatonin. CPAP therapy remains the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea, and melatonin might offer some additional benefits when used in conjunction with CPAP.

Future Directions

Further research is needed to clarify the optimal dosage, form, and effectiveness of melatonin for sleep apnea patients. Additionally, investigating melatonin’s influence on CSA requires more exploration.

By understanding the complexities of melatonin and sleep apnea, individuals can make informed decisions about their sleep health and discuss potential treatment options with their healthcare provider.

Written by

Dr Hoorain

Hoorain Batul is a passionate and experienced writer specializing in gynecology, obstetrics, fashion, and women's wellness. Hailing from Pakistan, she holds an MBBS degree, having completed her studies in 2011, and has furthered her expertise with FCPS Part 1 and 2. With a deep understanding of women's health and a keen eye for fashion, Hoorain brings a unique perspective to her content, providing valuable insights and empowering women with knowledge to lead healthier and more fashionable lives. Her content is a hub of informative and engaging articles, catering to the diverse needs of women worldwide.