Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Trying to help my son with sleep problems - Melatonin any good?

My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 6 years ago and has been receiving a combo of depot injections and tablets since then. He also has Tourette Syndrome, so the meds also help with his tics.

To start with the medication helped with his insomnia, and in fact once asleep he sleeps too much (12 hrs plus and well into the daytime). However now the insomnia has returned and sometimes he doesn’t sleep at all at night, and just crashes asleep later in the daytime. His sleep is very dysregulated now in fact! He just visited us for Christmas and 3 nights he had no sleep at all at night time.

I have done some online research which says that sleep problems are common with schizophrenia. Research also recommends Melatonin as it says there’s not enough of it for people with schizophrenia. Ideally I would like a Dr to prescribe it, but I suspect his Psych will not be willing (we are in the UK and it’s only recommended for the over 55s here on prescription it seems…!!). I am buying some for him over the net though. Any recommendations for it out there, or experience? It would be useful to know.

Melatonin is a great temporary sleep aid. Take it for 5 days then stop cause if u take it all the time it can mess up ur natural supply of melatonin (which is only a rumor might not be true). But try it, it could help ur sons insomnia.

Valerian root and tryptophan are both natural supplements that help relax the body. Tart cherry juice has tryptophan in it. Neither did all that much for me, just to be honest, but different things work for different people. My son goes nocturnal sometimes, and then he stays awake two days (48 hours) to reset and sleep at night again. If your son can sleep, but it’s in the day, maybe he also needs to reset his schedule? Good luck :blush:

I have tourette’s too. I sleep on Melatonin and Seroquel. Before I got sz I only had Melatonin and it worked. Now I have a med cabinet full of sleeping pills.

Thank you all so far…
Kazuma - I have heard that melatonin is a temporary sleep aid for some, but it does seem that some also take it for longer than you have said. I think it’s a good idea to maybe stop after a few weeks to see how things are then.
This study says that 'Melatonin levels and melatonin circadian rhythm are significantly decreased in schizophrenic patients (sorry had to remove link but the study was done in 2012 on melatonin and schizophrenia.
If this is true then adding in melatonin is simply replacing a hormone that is reduced in the first place perhaps, and therefore the body is in need of it?

Hedgehog - I tried my son on Valerian Root when he was visiting us this week, but though I find it really helps me to sleep it didn’t do much for him unfortunately! I don’t think he has tried tryptophan, though I have read that it is supposed to help. Thank you for the good luck, and I will report back and let people know how it goes.

Hi Comatose - sorry to hear that you also have Tourettes. It seems it’s quite unusual to get it alongside schizophrenia. I am surprised that his sz drugs don’t help him to drop off as they did to start with. The trouble with the sleeping pills is that they are so addictive aren’t they? He already takes something for anxiety that helps him to sleep some nights. but he’s been advised not to take it daily otherwise the effect wears off and then there is nothing for the anxiety! It’s a difficult one but hopefully the Melatonin will help him, and good to hear that you also use it.

My husband and I take Melatonin every night, have been for years. We are non-diagnosed. It did help my son, diagnosed, when he would take it. Some studies condone the use and others don’t.

Through personal experience and that of our friends we found that using too high of a dose could have the opposite affect. We take one that only has 1 mg of Melatonin along with 5-HTP and L-theanine.

Seroquel is an anti psychotic medicine. Does not build tolerance to it. I’ve had 300 mg for two years. Knocks me out completely. When I’m not psychotic, then I need the other meds as well.

I used it and felt no real effect from it, but everyone is different. I’m on 100 mg of Trazadone a night and it works great!

I have tried Melatonin few times and did not work with me, my current antipsych mix gives me good sleep.

I have read that seroquel may cause diabetes in a significant number of patients. J/s

Zyprexa is worse. It is a choise between being psychotic, addicted to sleeping pills (benso) or taking this risk.

Melatonin helps me a little bit - but having schizophrenia involves such horrible insomnia that I don’t think melatonin, in my experience, has had a significant enough improvement. Work to fix the schizophrenia in my opinion. Try psychotherapy if his problem is night terrors.

course I’m not a doctor, so you shouldn’t take my word for it.

That sounds very familiar to how I was and can be. I tried melatonin and it gave me very vivid nightmares that made me not want to sleep for days. What usually works best now is getting enough exercise during the day that I’m tired in the evening. If I don’t get enough at my day job I try to use my aerobics step or push weights later in the day to achieve the same. That, and absolutely no caffeine after 3 pm.

I’ve had SZ for over two decades and am med-compliant if that helps.


Hi, my family member also has major sleep problems, and refuses to take anything for sleep or any other type of medication or supplements.

The sleep patterns of people with sz are very different and sort of slide or “drift.” This article talks about that:

I am always relieved when my relative enters a pattern where there is adequate sleep (never happens that sleep is at “normal” times) because that usually results in less psychosis.

The article has a short list of possible treatments at the end.

Thank you all for your kind replies. At the moment I have written to my son’s new psychiatrist (with his agreement) in the hope that she will pay some attention to his problems, and I have asked about the possibility of her prescribing melatonin for him, but it’s not usually prescribed in the UK for people under 55 so I don’t have a lot of hope. However she might have some ideas.

Thanks Jake13. I don’t think my son has night terrors, and when he was here, if he could not sleep then he just listened to music or read a book. It may be that I am more worried about his topsy turvy sleep issues than he is!

Thank you Pixel for your comments. I hope melatonin doesn’t give my son nightmares also as that sounds horrible. I have bought him some to try, but at the very lowest dose. I think it’s admirable that you are able to work with schizophrenia. Unfortunately my son has not worked for some years now, and would not be up to it. I am trying to encourage him to get out more though and as you say, to keep off the caffeine later in the day. Like you he is med compliant, but he has so many issues other than the SZ that it’s difficult for him (he has also got Tourette Syndrome, dyspraxia and anxiety and depression).

Thank you Hereandhere - I had found that research article recently and it does suggest melatonin in there as a possible sleep treatment. As you say, not getting enough sleep must make psychosis more likely - because my son does not work, at least he can ‘crash’ and sleep whenever he needs to, even if it’s all a bit chaotic.

My son does the same as Pixel. Exercise and weight training have regulated his sleep patterns. I encourage him to get up and go out in the morning too, as he needs the Vitamin D too. He is on a monthly depot AP, but at the moment no other meds.