When To Take Melatonin
Its recommended take melatonin 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Thats because melatonin typically starts working after 30 minutes, when levels in your blood rise.
However, the best time to take melatonin is different for each person. Everyone absorbs medication at different rates. To start, take melatonin 30 minutes before bed. You can adjust the timing depending on how long it takes for you to fall asleep.
Whats most important is that you avoid taking melatonin at or after your ideal bedtime. This can shift your body clock in the wrong direction, resulting in daytime sleepiness.
Confusing Night And Day
Participants stayed at the sleep lab throughout the study. They wore special caps that monitored their brain activity and sleep. The researchers also checked participantsblood samples for melatonin levels.
The point was to force participants to sleep at odd hours and monitor melatonins effects. The time shift was like flying four time zones eastward every day, according to a Rush University Medical Center news release.
The researchers focused on what they call participantssleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency was calculated by dividing total sleep time by scheduled time in bed.
When participants were making their own melatonin , the use of melatonin supplements didnt affect sleep efficiency. But sleep efficiency improved when participants took melatonin supplements while their bodies werent making melatonin, the study shows.
However, sleep efficiency was best with melatonin made by the body, according to the results.
How Much Melatonin Should I Take
Most studies on melatonin use doses ranging from 1 to 5mg.
High doses of melatonin are not typically recommended, and many professionals suggest starting at the lower dosage of 1 mg and gradually increasing if needed.
Many people find sleep success with a 3mg dose.
When using melatonin for jet lag, the dose with the best-reported effectiveness is 5mg.
If you find yourself waking up groggy or very sleepy the next day, your dose is likely too high, and you should reduce it the next time.
Also, taking too much melatonin can have the opposite effect, making it harder to sleep because your normal circadian rhythms are disrupted.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin
Since melatonin is a dietary supplement, its important to understand the potential side effects. The Food and Drug Administration doesnt regulate melatonin the same way they regulate prescriptions, which means that there arent any official guidelines for taking melatonin.
The most common melatonin side effects include:
If youre thinking about using melatonin for sleep, talk to your doctor beforehand to make sure that melatonin is the right sleep aid for you.
How Long Does It Take Melatonin To Start Working
You’ll find two types of melatonin supplements on shelves: slow-release and fast-release. Depending on the formula, Bonney notes that it will take anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours to kick in. And the impact of the former products “can linger longer than you might want, messing with normal melatonin homeostasis,” adds Ferira.
“Timing is key with melatonin, as taking it at the incorrect time can throw off the circadian rhythm,” Bhopal cautions. “Generally, most people benefit from taking it about 30 minutes before their target bedtime. However, if melatonin is being used to shift the circadian rhythm, then it may be used strategically at different times.”
Gradisar says that if someone is looking to push their bedtime up, for example, they might take melatonin a little bit earlier every night until they feel tired at the target hour.
However, be sure to consult your doctor before attempting a shift like this. “It’s important to keep in mind that melatonin is a hormone and should be used intentionally, ideally under the guidance of a licensed health professional,” Bhopal says.
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Melatonin Dosage And Preparations
Melatonin is sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement in most grocery stores and pharmacies. You can also get different types of melatonin products online.
The Food and Drug Administration does not require the same evidence of safety and effectiveness for supplements, including melatonin, as prescription and OTC medications.
Melatonin comes in several forms, including tablets, lozenges, and gummies.
There are no official dosing guidelines for melatonin. It typically comes in doses that range from 1 mg to 10 mg.
It’s best to start with the lowest dose of melatonin and slowly increase the amount you take until you find what works for you.
In research studies, 3 mg of melatonin is a commonly used dose by people who use it for sleep benefits.
Melatonin Can Promote Eye Health
Melatonin is high in antioxidants which can help to prevent cell damage and may even treat conditions like Age-related Macular Degeneration and glaucoma. In a study of 100 people with AMD, melatonin supplements delayed age-related damage and preserved visual clarity, though research is still limited.
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Say A Straight No To Caffeine After 4pm
Im sure you already know about this. But, in case you dont, hear us out. Caffeine can worsen your sleep quality if you consume it around 6 hours before going to bed.
It stays in your blood for several hours . So, if you are having sleep issues, then caffeine after 4PM is a big no-no.
However, caffeine has also some added benefits. For example, it increases energy levels, improves focus, and even sports performance. But to avail these benefits, you have to consume it at the right time.
So, avoid drinking large amounts of caffeine when its late afternoon or evening.
Melatonin And Jet Lag
If youre a frequent jetsetter, youre likely aware of the unpleasant feelings that arise from flying across multiple time zones.
Jet lag throws your circadian rhythm for a loopand it can take some time to reset that rhythm.
Some research has found that melatonin supplementation can help with jet lag symptoms, including this review from the Cochrane Library .
The research team compiled and analyzed results from ten trials, finding that melatonin was remarkably effective at preventing or reducing jet lag symptoms in 9 out of 10 studies, especially with flights crossing five or more time zones.
Melatonins efficacy was enhanced when taking it close to the target destination bedtimeespecially when flying eastand 5mg was the ideal dose reported.
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When To Take Your First Dose Of Melatonin
If youâve been having trouble sleeping lately, whether itâs caused by changes in your schedule, new stress or just restless thoughts, you may be considering adding melatonin to your nighttime routine as a solution. Vicks ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs Melatonin is a great choice when youâre dealing with occasional sleeplessness, because it is drug-free and non-habit-forming. So, getting started with melatonin is easy, but when should you take it? Because you donât know how your body will react to melatonin, consider taking your first dose when you donât have to be active the next morning, like on a weekend, so you can see how your body adjusts to the additional boost. The best time to take melatonin is when you can sleep for at least six hours. With less than six hours of sleep, the additional melatonin may leave you groggier than usual and tired the next day. Therefore, you do not want to take melatonin in the morning or when you wonât be able to sleep long enough.
When To Take It
People who have trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep should take melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime.
People who usually fall asleep late but want to go to bed earlier should be taking melatonin medication 2 hours before the desired bedtime.
People who fall asleep early but who wake up early too should be taking melatonin medication in the morning.
When using melatonin for the first time, you should use the lowest possible dose of the medication, which is either 1 or 2 mg per day. If you need high doses of melatonin, the same shall be decided by your doctor.
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Are There Side Effects
The good news: In the short term, at least, melatonin is unlikely to do any harm.
Compared to most other sleeping pills, the side-effect profile is much better, and its not going to be addictive, said Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, an associate professor of psychiatry and a consultant at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. But because melatonin can cause drowsiness, the Mayo Clinic warns that you shouldnt drive or operate machinery within five hours of taking it.
Melatonin Could Reduce Symptoms Of Seasonal Depression
Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common condition related to changes in the seasons, with symptoms typically appearing in late fall and early winter. Some research shows that SAD is linked to changes in your circadian rhythm caused by low light in winter and that taking melatonin can help to mitigate these symptoms, though further research is needed.
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How Long Does Melatonin Stay In Your System
The half-life of melatonin is between 20 and 50 minutes, meaning half of the initial dosage in the body is eliminated after that amount of time. In total, melatonin stays in your system for about four to five hours.
One small study examined melatonin levels in blood samples from a group of healthy male adults after taking an oral 10 milligram dose of the supplement. The researchers found that on average melatonin levels dropped to zero after five hours.
However, a number of factors can affect how long it takes for the body to process melatonin, including a persons age, the melatonin dose, and whether it is a fast- or extended-release formulation. Further research can offer more insight as to how these and other factors influence how long melatonin stays in the body.
Sleepless Five Things To Know About Using Melatonin Correctly
I cant fall asleep, but melatonin doesnt work for me. Sleep eludes a lot of us, so I hear this fairly often. And almost as often, its because the poor tired person has been taking it wrong. Heres how to get it right.
Melatonin can be a very effective way to help your body sleep better not just longer, or faster, but better, giving your brain the rest and cycles it needs to work well.
Heres some helpful information so you can actually give melatonin a fair try before deciding whether or not it can help you:
1. Melatonin is not a sleeping pill, so taking it just before bedtime will make things worse, not better.
In and of itself, melatonin doesnt make you sleepy or fall asleep. Under normal circumstances, the amount melatonin we have naturally in our body rises in response to when the sun goes down . It tells your brain and body that its the end of the day its basically sends out the hey, its getting dark signal and in response to melatonins natural increase at sundown, the body starts the rest of the biological process of winding down and preparing for sleep which takes a few hours.
The wrong approach, then, is what most people mistakenly do: taking it shortly before you want to fall asleep. You need to take it 2-3 hours before your planned/desired sleep time.
2. More is not better.
In the US, we tend to think that if a little helps, more is better definitely not so in the case of melatonin dosage, where less is more.
3. Light defeats melatonin.
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Cautions With Other Medicines
Some medicines and melatonin can interfere with each other and increase your risk of side effects.
Certain medicines may increase or decrease the drowsy-making effects of melatonin.
Speak to a doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin if you take any of the following:
- antidepressants such as fluvoxamine or imipramine
- blood pressure lowering medicines
- zaleplon, zolpidem or zopiclone
How Much Melatonin Is Too Much
The various melatonin supplements available are typically formulated into doses ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg. Some are even higher.
So … how much melatonin should you take?
Generally speaking, you don’t need a dosage above 5 mg, but, in reality, the ideal dosage isn’t well-established and likely varies from person to person.
“Some evidence suggests that doses below 1 mg are often as effective as higher doses, so it’s best to start with the lowest dose possible and see what works for you,” recommends Dr. Ramkissoon.
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How Long Does Melatonin Last In Your Body
Melatonin is fast-acting, with a half-life of 20 to 40 minutes. The half-life of a medication or supplement measures how long it takes for half the dose to be processed and eliminated by the body.
Researchers found that after taking a typical dose of 1 to 5 milligrams, peoples melatonin levels were at their peak within an hour. In that same study, melatonin levels were back to normal after four to eight hours.
Taking an extended release melatonin pill may make you feel more tired when you wake up, especially if you are not able to get a full eight hours of sleep. Extended release pills may also take longer to help you fall asleep. Opting for an immediate release pill or chewable tablet may help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.
When’s The Best Time To Take Melatonin Before Bed
Before deciding the best time to take melatonin, you should make one clear distinction, says Ju.
Knowing whether or not you have a circadian rhythm disorder will dictate how close to bedtime you should take a supplement. Folks with a delayed circadian phase are commonly referred to as night owls.
“For people who have a problem with their internal clocks, if they have a circadian disorder, like a night owl type, we will recommend that those individuals take melatonin about an hour or two before their desired bedtime,” she says.
But, most people don’t have a circadian disorder and those who are taking the supplements solely to get to sleep, “can take it at bed time or just 15 minutes prior,” Ju says.
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Is There An Alternative To Melatonin
Absolutely…there are many! Melatonin, although widely used, produces varied results. It works great for some with sleep issues, but not for others. In fact, Ruchir Patel, MD, MB, BCh, FACP, a fellowship-trained sleep medicine specialist whos double board-certified in Sleep Medicine and Internal Medicine, has found over the last 10+ years in his sleep medicine clinic that about 50% of patients actually note a positive response from melatonin.
Fortunately, theres a range of alternative, clinically-studied natural sleep aids that have been proven to improve the duration and quality of sleep while ensuring you wake up refreshed the next day for optimal well-being, including:
Learn more about the science behind WHY these ingredients work in our complete guide.
Deciding between CBD and melatonin for sleep? Here’s a full run-down of the benefits and trade-offs of each, as well as a solution that combines both.
Proper formulations contain clinically-backed ingredients at effective dosage levels. They wont knock you out or leave you groggy.
When To Talk To Your Doctor About Melatonin
To ensure safe usage, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter sleep aid, including melatonin. They know your personal medical history and can best advise you on the appropriate melatonin dosage for your needs. They will also know whether melatonin might interact with any other medications you may currently be taking.
Certain health conditions and medications may increase your risk of side effects when taking melatonin. If you take any of the following medications, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
The research into melatonins potential benefits and use cases is still evolving, and its long-term effects are still unknown. For many people, melatonin offers mild improvements to sleep problems when used on a short-term basis. For others, it may cause side effects or not impact sleep at all.
If you find your sleep problems persist after trying melatonin, it may be time to talk to a doctor. They can recommend other strategies for improving your sleep, such as better sleep hygiene, changes to diet and exercise, or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. They can also evaluate other possible causes for your sleep problems.
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What Are The Health Benefits Of Taking Melatonin
Melatonin supplements may help with certain conditions, such as jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, some sleep disorders in children, and anxiety before and after surgery.
Jet lag affects people when they travel by air across multiple time zones. With jet lag, you may not feel well overall and you may have disturbed sleep, daytime tiredness, impaired functioning, and digestive problems.
Research suggests that melatonin supplements may help with jet lag. This is based on medium-sized reviews from 2010 and 2014.
- Four studies that included a total of 142 travelers showed that melatonin may be better than a placebo in reducing overall symptoms of jet lag after eastward flights. Another study of 234 travelers on eastward flights looked at only sleep quality and found low-quality evidence that melatonin may be better than placebo for improving sleep quality.
- Two studies that included a total of 90 travelers showed that melatonin may be better than a placebo in reducing symptoms of jet lag after westward flights.
Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder
People with DSWPD have trouble falling asleep at the usual times and waking up in the morning. They typically have difficulty getting to sleep before 2 to 6 a.m. and would prefer to wake up between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Some sleep disorders in children
Because of these uncertainties, itâs best to work with a health care provider if youâre considering giving a child melatonin for sleep problems.