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Melatonin vs. Serotonin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 10, 2024
Melatonin is a hormone regulating sleep cycles, while serotonin is a neurotransmitter affecting mood, digestion, and overall well-being.

Key Differences

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, primarily influencing sleep-wake cycles. Serotonin, alternatively, is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain and intestines, playing a key role in mood regulation and various bodily functions.
Melatonin production increases in response to darkness, signaling the body to prepare for sleep. Serotonin, however, is involved in a variety of functions including mood, appetite, and digestion, and is often associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.
The synthesis of melatonin is directly influenced by light exposure, with levels peaking at night. Serotonin levels, on the other hand, are affected by various factors, including diet and overall mental health.
Melatonin supplements are commonly used to treat sleep disorders, while serotonin levels are typically managed through diet, lifestyle changes, and medication like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) for conditions like depression.
Melatonin is mainly associated with regulating sleep patterns, while serotonin influences a broader range of physical and psychological processes, including mood, gastrointestinal function, and overall mental health.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Regulates sleep cycles
Influences mood, appetite, and digestion

Production Site

Pineal gland
Brain and intestines

Role in Sleep

Signals body for sleep and regulates circadian rhythms
Indirectly affects sleep through mood regulation

Supplements Usage

Used for sleep disorders
Managed through diet and medication

Effect on Mood

Mainly sleep-related
Directly impacts mood and emotional state

Melatonin and Serotonin Definitions


Its levels peak at night and decrease during the day.
Bright screens before bedtime can disrupt melatonin levels.


It's involved in regulating appetite and digestion.
Serotonin imbalances can affect eating behaviors.


It's produced in response to darkness.
Longer nights in winter increase melatonin production.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter affecting mood and digestion.
Balanced serotonin levels are crucial for emotional well-being.


Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep.
She takes melatonin supplements to overcome jet lag.


It's produced in the brain and intestines.
Gut health can significantly impact serotonin production.


Melatonin helps maintain the body's circadian rhythm.
Shift workers use melatonin to adjust their sleep cycles.


SSRIs are used to manage serotonin levels.
SSRIs are a common treatment for depression.


Melatonin supplements aid in sleep disorders.
Melatonin is recommended for insomnia treatment.


Serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness.
Exercise can boost serotonin levels, enhancing mood.


An animal hormone, C13H16N2O2, derived from serotonin and produced by the pineal gland. It stimulates color change in the skin of amphibians and reptiles and plays a role in regulating circadian rhythms and reproductive cycles in mammals. It is also found in plants and fungi.


An organic compound, C10H12N2O, that is formed from tryptophan and is found especially in the gastrointestinal tract, the platelets, and the nervous system of humans and other animals, and functions as a neurotransmitter and in vasoconstriction, stimulation of the smooth muscles, and regulation of cyclic body processes.


(neurotransmitter) An indoleamine neurotransmitter, 5-hydroxytryptamine, that is involved in depression, appetite, etc., and is crucial in maintaining a sense of well-being, security, etc.


A neurotransmitter involved in e.g. sleep and depression and memory


What is melatonin?

A hormone regulating sleep and circadian rhythms.

How does serotonin affect mental health?

It's key to emotional well-being and can impact conditions like depression.

Can melatonin improve sleep quality?

Yes, it's used to treat sleep disorders and improve sleep.

What affects serotonin levels?

Diet, lifestyle, and mental health conditions.

Where is serotonin produced?

Mostly in the brain and gastrointestinal tract.

Are serotonin levels linked to depression?

Yes, low serotonin levels are often associated with depression.

How does light affect melatonin?

Light exposure reduces melatonin production, impacting sleep.

Can melatonin be taken as a supplement?

Yes, it's available as an over-the-counter supplement.

Does melatonin have side effects?

It can cause drowsiness, headache, and dizziness in some cases.

Is melatonin naturally produced in the body?

Yes, by the pineal gland in response to light conditions.

What does serotonin do?

It regulates mood, appetite, and various bodily functions.

What role does serotonin play in digestion?

It helps regulate bowel movements and function.

What symptoms indicate a serotonin deficiency?

Symptoms can include depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

Is melatonin effective for jet lag?

It can help reset the body's internal clock when traveling.

How are serotonin levels tested?

Through blood tests, although it's challenging to measure brain levels.

Are melatonin supplements safe for long-term use?

Long-term effects are not well-studied, so use with caution.

Can diet impact serotonin levels?

Yes, certain foods can influence serotonin production.

Can children take melatonin supplements?

It's best to consult a doctor before giving melatonin to children.

Does melatonin interact with medications?

It can interact with certain drugs, so consultation with a doctor is advised.

Can exercise increase serotonin?

Yes, physical activity is known to boost serotonin levels.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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