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.
Melatonin For Better Sleep
Melatonin supplements are an excellent way to easy your body into restful sleep and help get your sleeping patterns back on track. As we mentioned, always talk with your doctor about the best melatonin dosage for your needs. We hope this article has helped you better understand your choices and how to use melatonin for sleep.
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About Lindsey Toth, MS, RDRegistered Dietitian, Swanson Health
Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because its the only permanent home you have. Its what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1 National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health. Melatonin.
2 What is Melatonin? WebMD.
12 Melatonin. WebMD.
Considerations When Taking Melatonin
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new over-the-counter sleep aids. They can help you establish the correct dosage and timing based on various factors such as your weight, age, and other health conditions or medications you are currently taking. If you are not sure why you are having trouble sleeping, they may also be able to diagnose an underlying sleep disorder or health condition and work out a treatment plan. Improving sleep hygiene habits may also lead to better sleep.
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What Is The Right Dosage Of Melatonin: How Much Is Too Much
Knowing how much melatonin to take is tricky, especially since some brands may recommend a dosage thats more than your body actually needs.
As you shop around, youll find that some melatonin supplements contain as much as 5 to 10 milligrams per serving.
Generally speaking, most people produce enough melatonin to sleep well. If you need a little extra to reset your sleep cycle, you probably dont need more than 3 mg. Some people sleep better with as little as 0.3 to 0.5 mg.
Melatonin needs vary from person to person. Since melatonin can have many effects on the body, like all drugs, it should be taken at the lowest dose possible, warns Dr. Jacobowitz.
With that being said, start with a low amount. If you still have problems sleeping, gradually step up your dose until you find an amount that improves sleep without causing side effects.
Less is more with melatonin to avoid sleep inertia. This is a common problem with some sleeping pills. Some people complain of a hungover or groggy feeling in the mornings due to remnants of the sleep aid remaining in their bloodstream.
This effect doesnt typically occur with melatonin, but it can happen if you take too much the night before.
Melatonin is also safe for children. And like adults, some children dont need a lot of the supplement to sleep better.
Again, start your child at a lower dose, and then gradually increase the amount of melatonin as needed. Talk to your doctor for advice on appropriate dosages.
Is It Possible To Overdose On Melatonin
Yes, even though it is rare and not really dangerous, melatonin overdose is still something you should be aware of. Unfortunately, the timed release of melatonin, combined with other drugs can lead to interactions that can be harmful to your health and in some cases, even cause death.
The math is quite simple. Your body naturally produces about 0.1mg of melatonin each day. The usual dosage that most supplements contain is 3-5 mg of melatonin per tablet. Ingesting over 20-50mg is considered an overdose.
You would have to take between five and ten tablets at once to hit that limit, which means you are not really in any danger if you control your daily intake.
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Melatonin Sleep And Adhd
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the brain in response to darkness. It helps our bodies maintain healthy sleep-wake cycles, where melatonin essentially tells the brain, Its time to start getting to sleep.
The ADHD brain, however, has a delay in melatonin onset. Research shows that the onset of melatonin for most adults is roughly 9:30 pm, but in adults with ADHD it happens more than an hour later. In children with ADHD, the melatonin onset is similarly late around 10:15 pm.1
This delay in melatonin onset is also associated with late sleep onset the time it takes for children and adults with ADHD to fall asleep. It typically takes a neurotypical person up to two hours to fall asleep after melatonin onset. In adults with ADHD, it may take three hours.2
Taking melatonin as an ADHD supplement under the guidance of a pediatrician or primary care physician, therefore, can help children and adults with ADHD get to sleep safely and naturally.
Is Melatonin Safe To Take Every Night
Americans arent sleeping well. Roughly 80% of U.S. adults say they struggle to fall asleep at least one night a week, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. And research has found that sleep problems are also on the rise among adolescents.
While the causes of Americas sleep woes are up for debate, theres little disagreement about Americas favorite remedy: Melatonin, the countrys most-used sleep aid.
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Get The Restful Sleep You Deserve
A restful, deep sleep shouldnt be a once-in-a-while thing. You deserve to replenish your body and wake up rejuvenated each and every morning. Of course, sometimes added stress at work, a big event on the calendar or a super busy day can leave your mind wired as you lay your head on the pillow. Even when youve done everything you can to relax before bed, from completing your self-care routine to dimming the lights to relaxing with a book to sipping sleepy time tea, sometimes sleep simply evades you. It happens to the best of usand a melatonin supplement may help.
Whether youre jet lagged from a long trip away from home or jazzed about an exciting meeting in the morning, Centrum Gummy Rest & Rejuvenate can provide the 5 mg of melatonin you may need to help you gently fall asleep.
Melatonin helps support a healthy sleep cycle by naturally promoting sleep and relaxation for occasional sleeplessness.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Can You Take Melatonin While Pregnant
You should not take melatonin while pregnant since the safety of this supplement during pregnancy is unclear. However, there is a growing body of evidence showing several positive benefits, specifically related to cardiovascular and neurological outcomes. Additional research is still needed to fully understand its effects as well as the appropriate treatment duration and dosage. If you are considering a melatonin supplement while pregnant, talk with your doctor before getting started. Never begin any new supplement or medication regimen without first speaking with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Why People Take Artificial Melatonin
Since melatonin regulates the sleep cycle, individuals who suffer from sleep-related issues, like insomnia, may take artificial melatonin as a supplement. Similarly, travelers may use melatonin to reduce jet lag and adjust to a different time zone. Night shift workers may also take the supplement to make falling asleep during the day or at odd times easier.
When taken before bed, supplements increase the amount of melatonin in the body. This could make falling asleep or staying asleep easier. However, there is limited scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of melatonin supplements, so it isnt clear whether people experience the purported benefits or simply a placebo effect.
As shown above, outside factors like sunlight can hinder your bodys production of melatonin. Supplements can bypass those factors and help you feel more ready to sleep, even if your environment is less than ideal.
Factors Affecting How Long Melatonin Lasts
But how long does melatonin last in your system? Melatonin typically stays in your system for around four to eight hours, but this range largely depends on external factors, including:
- Age: Your metabolism slows as you age, meaning the rate at which your body can metabolize the melatonin also slows. The older you are, the longer it may take for melatonin to wear off.
- Caffeine: Research has shown that caffeine can modify melatonin production to counteract the effectiveness of the supplement.
- Light exposure: Exposure to bright light, especially the blue light emitted from technology, can send signals to your brain that its daytime, making it harder for the melatonin to take effect.
- Body size: Factors like your height and weight impact how you absorb melatonin and how it affects you.
- Tobacco use: In animal studies, nicotine has been shown to inhibit melatonins effectiveness in the body.
- Other medications: Additional medications like blood thinners, immunosuppressants, and stimulants may counteract the effectiveness of melatonin.
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My Child Is Already On Melatonin Do I Need To Freak Out
I dont think so, as there is little concrete evidence of significant harm. However, if you started melatonin on your own I beg you to discuss it with your childs physician to see if it is really necessary. If your child has been using it long-term and sleeping well, you can consider slowly reducing the dose and seeing if it is still really necessary. Try to use it as needed as opposed to nightly. Also, I would take a hard look at sleep hygiene and ensure that you are ensuring good bedtime processes such as a high quality bedtime routine and avoidance of screen time for at least an hour prior to bedtime. I would try to reduce the dose, and potentially only use it as needed as opposed to nightly.
How Can I Maximize The Efficacy Of Melatonin
Melatonin levels naturally rise about two hours before bedtime. So help melatonin do its thing by tweaking your routine and environment around then, too. Avoid blue light for a few hours before bed, since that light can neutralize melatonins effects. And, consider incorporating a relaxing wind-down routine: deep breathing exercises, light stretching and reading are some of our favorite ways to feel mellow.
During the day, ensure youre getting enough daylight by getting outside or sitting near a window, too. This exposure can help program your body to produce melatonin for sleep at the right time of day.
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Risks Of Taking Other Drugs With Melatonin
Taking melatonin in any amount can be dangerous if you are also taking certain other medications. Unfortunately, this includes medications that can also make it difficult to sleep. People who use blood pressure drugs, for example, may have a lower amount of naturally occurring melatonin. However, taking melatonin can cause blood pressure spikes, which could be incredibly dangerous.
On the other end of the spectrum, birth control pills can lead to elevated melatonin production. Taking a supplement could push your concentration into dangerous territory. Individuals using anticoagulants may see an increased risk of bleeding if they also use melatonin. Those on corticosteroids should also avoid the supplement. It also isnt wise to take melatonin in conjunction with caffeine or alcohol. Both of those substances impact circadian rhythms and natural melatonin production.
Melatonin Benefits Beyond Sleep
Some research suggests that melatonins health benefits may go well beyond sleep. For example, one study found that 3mg of daily intake seems to protect the retina and delay macular degeneration. In addition, another study found that melatonin supplementation in combination with omeprazole played a role in improving heartburn pain. However, melatonins role in these instances is still not fully understood and more research is needed.
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How Many Mg Of Melatonin Should I Take
If youâve decided to try melatonin, itâs time to work out how much of it you should take. Finding the ideal melatonin dose for you is easier said than done, though.
The US Food and Drug Administration classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, so there arenât any strict dosage guidelines and the amount of melatonin in supplements can vary widely. In fact, even the scientific literature on melatonin concludes the optimum dose still needs to be clarified.
If youâre pregnant, breastfeeding, taking prescription medications, or have a health condition, seek medical advice to find out if melatonin is safe for you and, if so, the ideal melatonin dosage for you.
Here are some guidelines to help you decide how much melatonin to take:
- Start with a small dose: To reduce the risk of side effects, start with the lowest dose and only increase how much you take if necessary.
- Reduce your dose if you feel sleepy the next morning: While sleep inertia, or morning grogginess, is normal, you shouldnât feel very drowsy the next day from using melatonin. If you do, reduce how much you take and take it earlier in the day. You can find out more about how long melatonin lasts here.
One study found doses of 0.5 mg and 5 mg worked almost the same, although people fell asleep faster with the higher dose. It also found doses of melatonin above 5 mg didnât appear to be any more effective.
The authors of the study, Andrew Herxheimer and Keith J. Petrie, wrote:
Side Effects Of Melatonin
Like any other dietary supplement, melatonin may cause side effects in some peoplepossible side effects include:
Dr. Bollu says drowsiness can mean either excessive sleepiness at night or grogginess the next day. He also adds that interfering with your bodys natural sleep cues may carry another side effect as well.
Taking a hypnotic medication regularly, on a nightly basis, would dampen your innate drive to sleep, explains Dr. Bollu, who adds that although we dont know for certain, this could also be true for melatonin. However,some research suggests melatonin may not dampen this drive in the same way that Ambien, for example, does. When your body recognizes more melatonin in the body, it begins to slow down its own production of melatonin over time. Therefore, short-term use of a melatonin supplement is preferred.
If you experience hypothermia, shortness of breath, chest pain, high blood pressure, or an accelerated heart rate, seek emergency care.
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Is Melatonin Safe For Children
Children who sleep well may have better academic performance and fewer weight concerns. They also may be less likely to get injured playing sports and have healthier immune systems. In fact, some experts believe that many children who have trouble focusing simply have poor sleep habits and arent rested well enough to pay attention as they should in the classroom.7
With good sleep so important, is it safe to give your child melatonin to help them get the rest they need? Unfortunately, there hasnt been enough research on melatonin use in children to be sure. Melatonin is a hormone, so it must be used carefully, but some research suggests that a very low dose of liquid melatonin used on a limited basis may help children fall asleep.8
Who Should Buy Melatonin
Melatonin has a pretty targeted use, but a surprisingly large number of different categories of people find it useful. The sleep-promoting effects of melatonin make it a good first-line treatment for insomnia, and its uses extend to other situations where sleep may be compromised.
Older adults, who often have trouble sleeping, are also among the categories of people who may find melatonin useful indeed, melatonin has been used in clinical research on sleep disturbances in the elderly with good success.
Melatonin is a favorite among international travellers too, thanks to its ability to combat the productivity-sapping effects of jet lag.
With careful timing, a small to moderate dosage of melatonin can help reset your bodys biological clock and get you into your daily routine in a new time zone after travel.
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What To Know About Dietary Supplements And Safety
The FDA classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, meaning that its regulated less strictly than a regular drug. For dietary supplements, label claims and product safety dont have to meet FDA approval before theyre marketed.
A 2017 study of 31 different melatonin supplements found that the actual melatonin content of 71 percent of the products didnt match the claim on the label. Additionally, 26 percent of products contained serotonin, which can be potentially harmful even in small doses.
When shopping for melatonin supplements, look for products that are USP verified. United States Pharmacopeia is an independent organization that works to ensure proper quality and dosing of dietary supplements.