A woman lying on a white bed and wearing a sleep mask on her forehead.

Trazodone vs Melatonin vs Ativan for Sleep

Melatonin is categorically different from Ativan and Trazodone. As a hormone, melatonin is naturally produced by the brain’s pineal gland, and it can be taken supplementally to improve insomnia or jet lag with few side effects. Meanwhile, Ativan and Trazodone are both strong drugs with many side effects, were designed and are taken for different purposes.

In this article, we’ll compare all three substances more in-depth and explain how each is meant to be used. We’ll also tell you where to find all-natural, super effective melatonin that works much more quickly.

Trazodone vs Melatonin vs Ativan for Sleep

A close-up shot of a woman in between two faces of white statues.

The quick answer to this comparison is that melatonin is more appropriate for sleep for most people, because it’s a natural part of the body’s sleep mechanisms. By contrast, Ativan is meant to treat anxiety, and Trazodone is meant to treat depression.

That said, Trazodone is also considered a sedative and may be prescribed to treat insomnia, and Ativan can make you drowsy too. In fact, the effects of these drugs may be more extreme than the effects of melatonin, but with those stronger effects come greater risks. The side effects of these drugs, including habit formation, are much more severe than those of melatonin.

As melatonin is all-natural, it’s safer than either of the two drugs we’re discussing in this article. In the next few sections, we’ll go into detail about the effects of each of these three substances.

How Melatonin Works

A man sleeping comfortably on his side on bed.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that gets released in the evening to prepare your body for sleep. Its effects are subtle, but it can be taken supplementally to treat insomnia, jet lag, or any other disturbance to your circadian rhythm (i.e. your body’s internal clock or normal sleep schedule). It is available over-the-counter without a prescription as a sleep aid.

Melatonin Is a Mild Sleep Supplement With No Side Effects

A meta-analysis from PLOS One that looked at 19 randomized, controlled trials concluded that supplemental melatonin can help you shorten sleep onset (the time it takes to get to sleep), lengthen your sleep duration, and improve your sleep quality. The researchers note that the effects are modest compared to stronger sleep medications, but they also note that melatonin has relatively harmless side effects compared to sleep drugs.

By the way, the most commonly reported side effects of melatonin include drowsiness, headache, nausea, and dizziness (according to the Mayo Clinic). But side effects most often result from taking an unnecessarily high dose. A small dose of melatonin is very unlikely to cause any side effects at all, and it won’t cause drowsiness the next day (or a “sleep hangover”).

Melatonin Is Not Addictive or Habit-Forming

Another important point in melatonin’s favor is that it is not addictive or habit-forming. As both the PLOS One study as well as the Mayo Clinic explain, the effects of melatonin won’t diminish with continued use (as is often the case with stronger drugs). So, melatonin is safe to take every night without risk of becoming dependent or desensitized.

Melatonin Can Help Mild Anxiety

Some evidence suggests melatonin may even help with anxiety. A systematic review from the Association of Anesthetics found melatonin could reduce feelings of anxiety and oxidative stress. This is in part because it shifts the balance in the central nervous system: It takes us out of fight-or-flight mode (according to a study from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences).

While it’s not as strong as some prescription drugs that are used to treat anxiety, it may be a good option for those with mild anxiety that interferes with their sleep.

Melatonin May Protect Against Disease

In fact, a growing body of research suggests melatonin may aid in recovery from COVID-19. A 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis from the Journal of Medical Virology that looked at three randomized, controlled trials found patients with COVID-19 recovered faster and had better outcomes than patients receiving a placebo, presumably because of improved sleep physiology.

So, not only is supplemental melatonin a safe and effective treatment for chronic insomnia, but it may have additional health benefits as well. Just don’t expect the effects to be as extreme as what you’d get from a strong sedative.

How Ativan Works

A woman accidentally falls asleep on the desk while working on her laptop.

Ativan is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety. Also known as lorazepam, Ativan belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short, which are a type of depressant. While these drugs often have a mild sedative effect, their primary function is to treat anxiety, so they are not commonly prescribed for insomnia alone.

Ativan Brings Inherent Risk of Dependence

Unlike melatonin, Ativan and other benzodiazepines have an inherent risk of dependence. A review from the journal Drugs found using benzos for up to several months could lead to dependence, even when patients were taking normal doses of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms upon stopping the medication include altered perception, insomnia, weight loss, and seizures.

In addition to the risk of dependence and withdrawal, Ativan may also cause some side effects when taken as prescribed. According to the Mayo Clinic, drowsiness is the most common side effect, which may be welcome for those who need help falling asleep. But other side effects include loss of balance, loss of memory, changes in perception, vomiting, difficulty breathing, insomnia, and many more.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll experience all of those side effects — there are legal reasons why any side effect that’s ever been experienced needs to be reported. It has the potential to promote sleep, but the drowsiness it causes will be felt differently by different people: Ativan might completely knock you out but have little effect on someone else.

While Ativan and other benzos may be an effective treatment for anxiety, they should be used with caution, given the potential side effects and possibility of dependence. If you’re experiencing insomnia that isn’t related to anxiety, you will most likely be better off taking melatonin, which doesn’t require a prescription.

How Trazodone Works

A dark bedroom with bedsheets scattered on the bed and an open window blinds showing the burnt orange sunset outside.

Trazodone is a prescription drug used to treat Major Depressive Disorder, but it has sedating effects as well. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, but its chemical structure also interacts with a handful of other receptors in the body. These are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Trazodone Can Help With Insomnia

A review from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews explains SSRIs such as Trazodone can be used to treat sleep disorders. However, Trazodone can have some adverse effects when used for this purpose, including morning grogginess and dry mouth.

Another systematic review and meta-analysis from the American Journal of Psychiatry that looked at the treatment of depression with SSRIs suggests higher doses of SSRIs may be more effective at treating depression but also more likely to cause adverse effects.

Trazodone Has Many Side Effects

Trazodone has many potential side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common side effects of Trazodone include blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, perspiration, drowsiness, and weakness. But Trazodone also has a long list of less-common side effects, including shortness of breath, unusual heart beat, and muscle tremors.

As with Ativan, the long list of potential side effects of Trazodone make it a more risky option to treat insomnia than melatonin. Moreover, because it’s primarily used to treat depression, it’s not a great choice for someone who is only interested in treating insomnia. Like benzos, SSRIs should be used with caution due to their potential for adverse effects.

Melatonin Is Less Extreme but Safer Than Trazodone

Compared to melatonin, Trazodone will most likely cause more noticeable drowsiness, but it is also likely to cause unpleasant side effects (whereas melatonin generally won’t). Of course, these substances affect everyone differently, so you won’t know until you try them, but it may be best to avoid Trazodone if you’re not also experiencing depression (since that’s its primary job).

The Best Melatonin Supplement for Anxiety

A glass of melatonin drink with two resealable packs of Melo Sip in watermelon and green apple flavors behind it.

As we’ve seen, melatonin has significantly fewer risks than Ativan or Trazodone. Though these drugs may be appropriate for some people who have stronger psychological symptoms, melatonin is the way to go if you’re just treating insomnia. But what if your insomnia is caused in part by anxiety? Would you be better off taking Ativan?

In general, no. If your anxiety is relatively mild, it’s really not necessary. Given the high risk factor of taking benzos, and the potential of melatonin to help with anxiety itself, the safer and more appropriate option is to take an all-natural melatonin supplement that also contains herbal ingredients known to treat anxiety.

Our liquid melatonin supplement, MELO Sip, contains 4.3 mg of melatonin per serving in addition to chamomile, valerian root, GABA, l-theanine, and sleep-promoting vitamins and minerals. The addition of these all-natural ingredients to help you relax makes MELO Sip an excellent choice for those suffering from both anxiety and insomnia.

Plus, it works incredibly fast. Liquid supplements can be absorbed in as little as 1-4 minutes (according to an article from Medicare Europe), which is much faster than the time it takes your body to absorb pills.

Try MELO Labs Products for All Your Melatonin Needs

Boxes of Mello Air Melatonin Vaporizers in assorted flavors scattered in a blue surface.

To recap, melatonin is the best choice to treat insomnia. It’s very safe compared to Ativan and Trazodone, and unlike these drugs, it’s all-natural. Moreover, it’s actually designed to treat insomnia, whereas Ativan and Trazodone are designed for anxiety and depression, respectively.

At MELO Labs, we make the fastest, most effective melatonin supplements on the market. Our melatonin vaporizers, MELO Air, work more quickly than any other melatonin supplement. You’ll feel the effects in as little as 10-20 minutes. And they contain only three ingredients: melatonin, organic vegetable glycerin, and natural flavors. No vitamin E acetate or anything harmful.

What’s more, because melatonin vapes work so quickly and effectively, you only need a small dose. Ten puffs of MELO Air will give you 1.3 mg of melatonin — much smaller than the average dose from pills — but you may not even need that much. Many customers feel the effects after just two or three puffs, i.e. less than half a milligram of melatonin.

But for those who prefer not to vape, we’ve got you covered with MELO Sip, our delicious melatonin liquid supplement. It comes in powdered form, and you simply add one packet of powder to a glass of water. You can use as much or as little water as you’d like to achieve your preferred concentration. And it tastes great without any added sugar or sugar alcohols.

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published