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When it comes to attentional disorders and the autistic spectrum, the profound effects of melatonin may be far-reaching. Research groups have evaluated the genes that encode melatonin metabolism in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to controls. Genetic results suggest a melatonin-signaling deficiency in ADHD (1). Sleep disorders are comorbid in those with ADHD, affecting cognitive, behavioral, and physical development. In most individuals with ADHD, there is a delayed circadian phase (evening preference) and subsequent issues with daytime function. In these individuals, endogenous pineal melatonin is significantly dampened during the evening hours (triggered by dim light).


Evidence suggests somewhat variable responses to supplemental melatonin in clinical ADHD. This variability could be due to differing or overlapping etiologies of ADHD, whether it is a manifestation of genetic SNPs related to sleep disturbance and circadian rhythm dysfunction or attributed to the melatonin-signaling deficiency. More research is needed to determine appropriate dosage protocols specific to the pathophysiology of ADHD under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional (2,3).



Authors: Deanna Minich, Ph.D., Melanie Henning, ND, Catherine Darley, ND, Mona Fahoum, ND, Corey B. Schuler, DC, James Frame

Reviewer: Peer-review in Nutrients Journal

Last updated: September 22, 2022




1. Checa-Ros A, Jeréz-Calero A, Molina-Carballo A, Campoy C, Muñoz-Hoyos A. Current evidence on the role of the gut microbiome in ADHD pathophysiology and therapeutic implications. Vol. 13, Nutrients. 2021.

2. Mantle D, Smits M, Boss M, Miedema I, van Geijlswijk I. Efficacy and safety of supplemental melatonin for delayed sleep–wake phase disorder in children: an overview. Vol. 2, Sleep Medicine: X. 2020.

3. Avcil S, Uysal P, Yenisey Ç, Abas BI. Elevated Melatonin Levels in Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Relationship to Oxidative and Nitrosative Stress. J Atten Disord. 2021;25(5).

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