How To Know The Right Melatonin Dosage To Take
Melatonin is regulated in many other countries, but the US Food and Drug Administration classifies it as a dietary supplement, meaning there are no official guidelines on dosages.
You should always follow the instructions on the supplements you buy, but that doesnât always guarantee youâll take the right amount. A 2017 study tested 16 brands of supplements and found the amount of melatonin they contained varied wildly from what was stated on the label. It ranged from a disappointing 83% less to a dangerous 478% more than advertised, so itâs almost impossible to know exactly how much youâre taking.
And the amount of melatonin you need is likely much smaller than you think. Low doses of 0.5 mg to 1 mg have been shown to be just as effective as doses of more than 3 mg. So if you are turning to supplements, we recommend starting with a smaller dose to reduce the risk of side effects, and only increasing the amount of melatonin you take if necessary.
Thereâs also a bit of trial and error when it comes to finding the right dosage of melatonin. For example, if youâre taking melatonin in the morning to push back your sleep schedule, but it causes drowsiness in the day, try taking a lower dose. The aim should be to use the lowest dose needed to improve your sleep when needed.
How Long Does Melatonin Last
The plasma half-life is short and ranges between 20 and 50 minutes. This means that approximately only half of the dose remains in your system after this amount of time. This means that while it may help you fall asleep faster, it likely wont help you to stay asleep or increase the quality of your sleep.
How Many 10 Mg Melatonin Should You Take
In adults, 10 mg is the maximum recommended dosage. However, most people do not need doses of melatonin this high. While there is no risk of addiction, research shows that melatonin administration is effective at the lowest dose for the short term. Doses of melatonin in the range of 1 mg to 5 mg can help promote good sleep quality and normal circadian rhythms . If sleep problems persist after taking supplemental melatonin for 1-2 weeks, you should consult a sleep specialist.
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What Is A Safe Melatonin Dose
According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses, which is anything between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.
A 0.5 mg dose may be all thats needed for sleep-cycle regulation, and should be taken three to five hours before bed, he says. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is appropriate. Some people report headaches or stomach problems at higher doses, but those side-effects are uncommon, he says.
Still, there are other concerns. Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it, says Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. But its a hormone, and you dont want to mess around with hormones until you know what theyre doing.
People with existing medical problems should discuss melatonin with their doctor before using it. While some research has found that melatonin may help treat hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, for example, other studies have shown that, in diabetes patients who carry certain genetic traits, melatonin may interfere with glucose regulation. Its these sorts of contradictory findings that give experts pause when it comes to issuing melatonin a full-throated endorsement.
When Is The Best Time To Take Melatonin
There are two answers to this question depending upon the symptoms youre targeting. Normally, the brain begins to produce melatonin around 9pm. If youre looking to encourage your bodys own production of melatonin, then taking melatonin 3 hours before your bedtime in a small dose is best because exogenous melatonin given earlier than the time of its usual endogenous secretion helps to shift the circadian rhythm earlier.
Plasma levels of melatonin peak within one hour of administration. Therefore, if you want to fall asleep earlier to help re-establish a healthy bedtime , then taking melatonin 30 minutes to 1 hour before wanted sleep is recommended.
If youre wide awake in the middle of the night, taking an additional dose will not help.
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Is It Safe To Take Melatonin With Alcohol
Alcohol can disrupt your natural melatonin levels, so experts recommend against taking melatonin when drinking or when using other sleep medications.
There is limited evidence that melatonin might be helpful in recovering from alcohol use disorders due to the antioxidant effects of melatonin. However, more research needs to be done.
Melatonin Interactions And Warnings
Even though melatonin is sold over the counter , you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking it. This is especially true if you already take medication or supplements, or you have a medical condition.
Melatonin might change how your body processes some medicationsfor example, increasing or decreasing how much of a medication is in your system. Mixing medications with melatonin can also change how much melatonin is in your system.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take melatonin because there is not enough evidence to prove that it’s safe.
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Address Your Sleep Problems
A common misstep with melatonin is taking the supplement without fixing other sleep issues. Relying on melatonin supplements alone without optimizing your nighttime habits, is often not the best approach, says Krieger.
The best use of supplements is to enhance the benefits of a good nighttime routine, she says. That means ensuring your bedroom is dark , quiet, and cold. You should also go to bed and wake up around the same time, reduce exposure to bright light before bed, which suppresses the release of melatonin, and how to reduce stressors and underlying anxieties that may be affecting sleep.
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What Can You Expect With A Melatonin Overdose
If you think youâve taken too much melatonin and begin to have unwanted side effects, donât worry. Compared to other sleep supplements and medications, melatonin moves through your body very fast. Because of this, its effects donât last very long.
If you develop slight side effects, try to wait it out a bit and let your body fully process the supplement.
But if the symptoms become strong or you feel concerned, it might be a good idea to call your doctor or poison control at 222-1222. They can help you find the next step or guide you through certain symptoms.
If your child has taken too much melatonin, first make sure that they no longer have access to the supplement. Then, wipe their mouth out with a soft, wet cloth. Donât try to make them throw up the melatonin that they took.
Afterward, call poison control right away. Theyâll help you figure out your treatment options based on how much melatonin your child took.
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Alternatives To Taking Melatonin
If you have trouble sleeping, it is always wise to see a doctor. A doctor can assess your symptoms and determine if a medical condition may be an underlying cause. If that turns out to be the case, your doctor can then identify treatment options that may also allow you to sleep soundly.
If you want a more restful sleep without melatonin supplements, start by establishing a sleep/wake routine. By following the same schedule nightly, you can create a pattern that your body gets used to, increasing the odds that youll be sleepy at the right time.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, exercise and digital devices at least a few hours before bed. All of those things can disrupt your natural melatonin production, so forgoing them as the evening approaches can help. Anxiety can also hamper sleep. Finding natural ways to relieve stress can help.
For some, herbal tea can promote better sleep. Some find consuming them relaxing, and that general sense of calm can make a difference.
Benefits The Cardiovascular System
Several studies suggest that melatonin may help to promote cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and promoting more healthy cholesterol levels.16
Your bodys internal clock and the amount of light you are exposed to affect how much melatonin you create. Generally, toward the end of the day, your body naturally creates more melatonin, making you sleepy. By early morning or sunrise, your melatonin levels drop off, causing you to wake up.1
However, your melatonin can easily fluctuate based on various environmental factors. Shorter, darker days in winter can interfere with your natural sleep cycle by causing you to produce melatonin earlier than usual. Recently, blue light from computer and phone screens has become a big problem as it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, which ultimately prevents you from getting a full, restful night of sleep.2
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Melatonin Dose For Adults
Since melatonin is considered a supplement, its not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . But if youre still interested in using the supplement, in most cases, Dr. Goldman suggests using the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time to achieve your desired outcome. In general, melatonin can be used in two ways.
Taking melatonin as a sleep aid
This method is meant to help you fall asleep faster in a very short amount of time. Dr. Goldman suggests starting with 1 mg, and then increasing that amount by 1 mg every week until youve reduced the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. But you should know, this method isnt super effective because you can easily interrupt the melatonin process.
Its important to note that its really easy to overcome the effect of melatonin, says Dr. Goldman. If you take it and then get on your phone, go on social media, play video games or if you have an overactive mind thats racing or worrying, you will likely overpower the effect of melatonin.
For this reason, its best if you take melatonin when you start feeling tired and make sure you allow your body to be at full rest when you take it.
Taking melatonin to adjust your circadian rhythm
For these more chronic cases, Dr. Goldman suggests working with a sleep medicine physician or behavioral sleep medicine specialist to create a sleep-wake schedule that may include the use of melatonin.
Adjusting To Shift Work
Melatonin supplements may also help shift workers adjust to a change in schedule. Research shows 0.3 mg to 5 mg of melatonin increases the amount of sleep people get when their sleep isn’t aligned with their circadian rhythm, or when natural melatonin levels are low.
Experts recommend taking melatonin several hours before your usual bedtime to bring natural sleep forward, and taking it at your usual wake up time to delay it. Lower doses are ideal when you donât want the sleepiness effects straight away, and higher doses are better when you want to fall asleep earlier.
However, more research still needs to be done here, too. While there is some evidence suggesting melatonin supplements may help night shift workers sleep during the day, a report from the National Institute of Health stated some of these results were inconclusive or from small studies. In fact, light therapy has been shown to be more effective at helping shift workers adjust.
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What Are The Recommended Doses Of Melatonin
You can legally buy melatonin in any amount. You donât need a prescription in the United States. But you canât get melatonin over the counter in countries like Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and some parts of the European Union.
So far, experts havenât come up with a specific dose or timing for the supplement to help insomnia. Many studies look at doses from 0.1 to 10 milligrams of melatonin. But doctors believe that 2 to 3 milligrams are usually a good amount to start with.
If youâre an adult, you can usually take up to 8 milligrams per day for about 6 months. For kids, experts suggest about 3 milligrams daily for 3 months.
Itâs tough to tell exactly how much melatonin each person should take. Everyoneâs body may react differently to the supplement based on their:
- Health conditions
- Timing when they take melatonin
Studies have also found that sleep aid products may have more or less of the listed melatonin amount. Experts found that certain supplements may have anywhere from under 83% to over 478% of whatâs listed on the bottle label. This may mean that youâve taken more or less of the amount you believe you took. The reason for the poor quality control is that melatonin is considered a dietary supplement. This means that itâs not regulated by the FDA for its indication, potency, or purity.
Melatonin Dosage For Adults
- Melatonin for Trouble Falling Asleep0.3 to 5 mg of melatonin, not to exceed 9 months may help people who have trouble falling asleep6
- Melatonin for Disrupted Sleep-Wake Cycle2 to 12 mg taken at bedtime for up to 4 weeks, may help get your natural rhythm back on track6
- Melatonin for Extended Difficulty Sleepingmost research studies have used 2 to 3 mg of controlled-release melatonin for up to 29 weeks. Doses of up to 12 mg daily have also been studied for shorter durations 6
- Melatonin for Blood Pressure Support2 to 3 mg of a controlled-release melatonin for up to 4 weeks6
- Melatonin for Jet Lag0.5 to 8 mg at bedtime is commonly taken starting the night of arrival at your destination, continuing for 2 to 5 days6
The above intake amounts have been studied scientifically, but always check with your doctor first before supplementing your melatonin to find the safest intake for your individual needs.6
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Those Who Are Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
There is not enough information available on the side effects of melatonin supplements to determine if pregnant or breastfeeding people can safely take these supplements. Those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid melatonin supplements unless directed by their physician. If you are struggling with sleep, ask your doctor for other ways to improve sleep during pregnancy.
Can I Start And Stop Taking Melatonin Suddenly
Yes. You do not need to taper off your use of melatonin. You can discontinue use at any time as well as use it only when needed. Because of this, itâs an excellent choice for travelers to help them negate the effects of jet-lag. If you have a long flight, you can take it beforehand to help yourself go to sleep on the plane.
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Melatonin Dosage For Children
Short-term use of melatonin in small doses appears to be safe and well-tolerated by most children. The effective dosage for children ranges from 0.05 milligrams per kilogram to 5 milligrams of melatonin. When children experience side effects from taking melatonin, theyre typically mild and may include:
Medical professionals may recommend melatonin for children with conditions that affect their sleep, such as insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Several studies have shown melatonin supplements can significantly improve overall sleep times by 25 minutes to 48 minutes, on average, for children with these conditions.
However, there havent been enough studies of melatonin in children for experts to determine an official recommended dosage or any potential long-term safety risks. Since melatonin is a hormone, its possible that taking supplemental melatonin could affect other aspects of hormone development in children, but further research is needed.
If your child is having sleep problems, experts recommend consulting your doctor before giving them melatonin. Research indicates that for half of the cases where melatonin was used to treat pediatric insomnia, better sleep habits were just as effective at relieving the childs sleep problems.
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What Happens If I Take Melatonin With Another Medication
According to the Mayo Clinic16, taking melatonin should be safe for most people, though in some circumstances it can interact with other medications such as blood thinners, blood pressure medications, anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, and others. However, this doesnt mean the interaction will be dangerous, in some cases, it may just inhibit melatonins ability to simulate drowsiness.
Before taking melatonin, be sure to discuss your current medications with your doctor to be sure its the right choice for you.
Regular Vs Extended Release
When you think of melatonin, youre likely thinking of a regular pill that instantly releases melatonin into your body. However, extended-release melatonin pills, sometimes called slow- or time-release pills, allow the melatonin to dissolve in your body gradually.
Extended-release melatonin mimics natural melatonin production in your body, and for people who wake up throughout the night, its particularly helpful in keeping you asleep and helping you fall back asleep.
Can Kids Overdose On Melatonin
Yes, kids can overdose on melatonin14 just as adults can, and the signs a child has taken too much can include an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from 2012-2021, the number of children ages 5 and up taking melatonin increased by as much as 530 percent15. They go on to say that hospitalizations and more severe symptoms also increased during this time.
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