Melatonin Before Surgery

Is It Safe To Take Melatonin Before Surgery?

Melatonin is increasingly being used to help with sleep problems (e.g., difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). Patients that take melatonin may wonder whether or not it is safe to take the night before a surgery. This is a reasonable question, given how important it is to follow your physician’s guidelines surrounding surgery. For example, many surgeons will tell their patients that it is unsafe to eat before a surgery due to the risks of inhaling stomach contents into the lungs under anesthesia.

In the case of melatonin, there is simply no reason to worry about taking melatonin the night before surgery. Melatonin has a half-life of 1-2 hours. (The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for blood levels of the drug to be reduced by 50%). Due to melatonin’s rapid half-life, it will be out of the patients’ system by the time surgery starts.

Melatonin and Anesthesia

Melatonin administered immediately before surgery would theoretically potentiate anesthesia. In other word’s melatonin will enhance the efficacy of general anesthesia. This effect occurs because melatonin has mild sedative and hypnotic effects itself that could contribute to the hypnotic effects of anesthesia. One paper proposes that melatonin would be a good adjunct medication prior to anesthesia, due to melatonin’s analgesic, anti-inflammatory, hypnotic, and sedative effects that would potentiate anesthesia.

This interaction between melatonin and anesthetic agents is not really relevant for those who take melatonin the night before a surgery, because it will be out of one’s system within a couple of hours after dosing.