What are Melatonin Sleep Patches, and Do they Work?

Posted by Darian Dozier on Dec 26, 2022 12:55:00 PM

Add a heading-Jun-24-2022-08-50-07-75-PM

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone, that helps your body go to sleep. It is released by the lack of light that hits your retina, signaling that it's probably time to go to bed. This release jumpstarts the process of shutting things down so your body can get some rest.

For one reason, or another, certain individuals cannot produce that much melatonin. Therefore, they may need exogenous, or outside sources. Melatonin tablets are a common exogenous source, but a new supplement form in a patch is becoming more available. Continue reading to find out what they are and if they work.  

What are Melatonin Patches and How do they Work? 

Melatonin patches are transdermal patches with an adhesive backing so they can be applied directly to the skin. While you are sleeping, the patch will deliver melatonin directly to your body. 

Once it is applied to your skin, the patch releases melatonin into your body through the dermis, or skin. Melatonin patches have extended-release system designed to help you stay asleep longer. 

Typically you should apply the patch an hour before bedtime. Choose an area that is comfortable and as hair free as possible to avoid any wax-like event that may happen upon removal. This can include your forearm, shoulder, calf or the top of your foot. Go to sleep with the patch on and remove it in the morning. Any remnants can be cleaned off with soap and water. 

What does Melatonin do? 

Melatonin plays a key role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. The body decreases melatonin production when you are exposed to light, and releases melatonin when you are exposed to darkness. Your brain likes to use sunlight as a cue and increase melatonin production after sunset. However, artificial light from devices and outside light exposure can deceive the brain into thinking it's still daytime. Light exposure can reduce the amount of melatonin released and lead to sleep interruptions or sleep deprivation. 

About a third of people do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Sleep deprivation affects all aspects of your wellbeing. Melatonin supplements, such as these patches, may augment the drowsy effects of melatonin. 

Effectiveness of melatonin patches for sleep 

Melatonin patches are newer than other types of melatonin supplements, meaning they have fewer studies on how well they work. One study found that patches are more effective in helping people sleep, even during the daytime. This can be great for shift workers or those with jet lag. These patches allow more time to be spent in stage 2 and REM sleep, the stages of sleep that these individuals miss out on the most. Melatonin patches may also be great for older adults who naturally have lower levels of melatonin and wake up earlier than they desire. 

How patches compare to other types of melatonin 

The effects of melatonin vary based on the dosage and method of administration. The type of supplement you take determines how much of the active drug is in your body. When you take melatonin orally, a majority of it is metabolized by the liver - causing you to only receive a small majority of the original dose.

Nasal sprays or sublingual (under the tongue) deliveries have the highest bioavailability, or concentration in your bloodstream after administration. Transdermal melatonin is somewhere in between, meaning that it will last longer than oral supplements, but won't be as strong as the nasal or sublingual administrations. 


Oral melatonin supplements, as well as sleep patches, are considered safe for short-term use. There are some possible side effects like headaches, dizziness, irritability, temporary depressie feelings and stomach cramps. Melatonin also induces sleepiness, so you should avoid things that could be dangerous, such a driving or operating heavy machinery. 

There are also other groups of individuals with increased risk factors like: 

  • Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant
  • Bleeding disorder or hypertensive patients 
  • Those with depression 
  • Individuals with a seizure disorder 
  • Children 
  • Transplant recipients

Melatonin Is a supplement which means it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it is best to speak with your doctor to make sure what you are taking is safe, and necessary. Due to their unregulated nature, they do not have to be as regulated with their dosing and efficacy as medications. 

If you are considering taking a melatonin patch, please make sure to speak with a health professional to make sure it is safe, and that you are choosing one that's effective. It's also important to establish positive sleeping behaviors in addition with any sleep supplements. That includes consistent sleep and wake times, a positive sleep routine, and an optimal sleeping environment. 

If you would like additional support, or think their may be a deeper cause for your sleep troubles, then please click the orange button to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals today. 

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