What Is Melatonin And How Does It Work
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms and with sleep. Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production.
Research suggests that melatonin plays other important roles in the body beyond sleep. However, these effects are not fully understood.
Melatonin dietary supplements can be made from animals or microorganisms, but most often theyâre made synthetically. The information below is about melatonin dietary supplements.
Creepy Things Melatonin Does To Your Body
Plenty of people who struggle to get enough sleep turn to melatonin as a safe and natural sleep aid. However, not everyone is familiar with the creepy things melatonin does to your body. Really, the way this hormone can affect you is kind of wild.
First, it’s helpful to understand more about this sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body regulate sleep, as explained in the Mayo Clinic. Its production in the body is linked to the time of day, and it increases when it’s dark outside. For people who are struggling with issues such as jet lag or insomnia, taking a melatonin supplement can help them drift off to sleep.
Although it’s a naturally occurring hormone, there are still some unexpected ways melatonin can affect the body. To learn more, Romper spoke with One Medical Provider, Dr. Navya Mysore. For the most part, it’s a safe and useful supplement for many people. “I do recommend melatonin for patients struggling with sleep issues as a short-term solution. I think melatonin can be useful for short periods of time when trying to catch up on sleep as one tries to figure out the source of their insomnia,” says Dr. Mysore. But this doesn’t mean it’s a perfect solution to all sleep issues. Read on to find the possible downsides that can happen to the body when you take melatonin.
How Long Does Melatoninlast For Sleep
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.
Weve all had restless nights. Whether tossing and turning is a nightly occurrence or this is the first time youre up counting sheep, youve likely heard of the popular sleep aid melatonin. But what is melatonin, and how long does melatonin last for sleep?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that can help promote sleepiness, so you fall asleep fast. Many people have turned to melatonin supplements, which are available over the counter, to help them catch some zzzs in a pinch.
Before using melatonin, its essential to understand the potential impacts it can have on your health. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using melatonin for sleep.
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Is It Safe To Take Melatonin
For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, thereâs not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety of supplementing with melatonin is lacking.
Also keep in mind:
Interactions with medicines
- As with all dietary supplements, people who are taking medicine should consult their health care providers before using melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications need to be under medical supervision when taking melatonin supplements.
Possible allergic reaction risk
Safety concerns for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Safety concerns for older people
Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement
Products may not contain whatâs listed on the label
Melatonin For Older Adults
The amount of melatonin your body produces decreases with age. Because of this, melatonin supplements may be helpful for older adults who are having trouble falling asleep.
Researchers are still looking into the optimal melatonin dosage for older adults. One 2016 review of sleep aids for older adults suggests a dosage of 1 to 2 mg of immediate-release melatonin 1 hour before bedtime.
Your Lifestyle Habits Can Impact Your Natural Melatonin Production
There are a few habits you should consider changing if you want to help your body produce more melatonin.”We live in a time where people are staying up later working, watching television, or scrolling on their phones,”Dr. Judy Hinojosa, N.M.D lead physician and owner of Vitality Natural Health Care, tells Bustle. “Weâre also eating later in the day because weâre staying up late â both of these factors can adversely affect our sleep.”Having electronic devices next to your bed, watching TV, drinking alcohol, snacking, and exercising too intensely right before bed, can also be disruptive to your sleep. So if you are having trouble sleeping, try changing these habits first before you turn to sleep aids.
How Much Melatonin Should You Take And When
Even though bioavailability of over-the-counter melatonin is quite low , a dose of between 1-5 milligrams, consumed approximately 20 minutes before bedtime, will raise blood levels by 10-100 times the amount you would otherwise achieve while sleeping. The effects will last for about 4-8 hours.
Women appear to have greater bioavailability and a faster return to baseline levels than men. Experiment with your dosing of melatonin so that you take enough to get the sleep you want but avoid the hangover effect that can happen when you take too much. Start with 1 milligram of melatonin, then increase your dose by 1 milligram per evening until you find the dose that’s best for you.
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What Can I Expect Results
“The outcome of using a topical melatonin at night is an increase in your natural defenses to fight free radicals caused by UV radiation, stress, and pollution the next day, as well as repair the damage done that day,” Engelman explains. And while there are limited studies on the ingredient , it seems that like other antioxidants, mitigating the effects of UV damage is at the top of the list. “Think of it as a potential new sun protection ingredient,” New York City-based dermatologist Ellen Marmur says. “Topical melatonin theoretically might help to intercept UV photons.”
How Long Does It Take For Melatonin To Work
Melatonin supplements typically begin to kick in between 20 minutes and two hours after ingestion, which is why Buenaver suggests taking one to three milligrams two hours before bedtime.;
Additionally, natural melatonin levels rise around two hours before bed, so having a consistent bedtime routine can help signal to your body that its time to ramp up melatonin production.;
Melatonin can affect everyone differently, meaning theres no single right answer to how long melatonin lasts. You may need to do some trial and error to figure out when to take melatonin before bed and how much to take so you can stay asleep.;
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What Is The Proper Melatonin Dosage
Typically, adults can take between 0.5 milligram to 5 milligrams of melatonin safely. Like any other supplement or drug, it is important to talk to your doctor first. If you choose to try melatonin, start with the lowest dose possible and slightly increase it if needed. It is best to avoid dosages over 10 milligrams, as you may experience unpleasant side effects such as headache and fatigue.
It should also be noted that melatonin is considered a supplement in the United States, and is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Without strict regulations or guidelines, the amount of melatonin that a supplement contains may differ from the label. Inaccurate labeling of melatonin supplements is common.
If you are concerned about the potential side effects of melatonin, there are other over the counter sleep aids to consider. Diphenhydramine and doxylamine are two popular antihistamines that are also used to aid sleep. Herbs like valerian have also been shown to help promote sleep.
Finding the sleep aid that works for you may take time. Ensuring that you are engaging in healthy sleep hygiene practices may also help you get better sleep.
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Adverse Effects Of Melatonin Intake: Overview
Consumption of food supplements that contain melatonin or mainly contain melatonin has shown adverse effects in numerous studies. The most frequently reported side effects include; headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, tremors, migraine, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, nightmares, vivid dreams, and irritability. There were even cases of supplement abuse for suicide attempts through melatonin overdose.
The reason for such adverse effects was traced to an incorrect presentation of the amount of melatonin a bottle of supplements truly contains. Investigation shows that melatonin supplement bottles can have;4 times more melatonin than indicated. This can affect ones health significantly, because of the higher the dose, the serious and more frequent side effects.
However, this is not the only reason side effects occur. Sometimes, doctors do NOT prescribe a suitable dosage, or the patients decide to dose themselves as they want. Some people even tend to drink alcohol with melatonin, hoping to emphasize the sedative effects. But, they just cause even more serious side effects.
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Melatonin May Improve Your Insomnia But Not As Much As You’d Think
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, approximately one-third of American adults may suffer from chronic insomnia . Insomnia defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep can have many causes. These include stress, depression, anxiety, use of certain medications or substances, and disruptive elements in your sleeping environment like light and noise. People with insomnia often don’t get enough high-quality sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness, mood changes, and difficulty concentrating .
Since melatonin is the hormone that cues the body that it’s time to sleep, it makes sense that taking supplemental melatonin would swiftly whisk insomniacs off to dreamland. According to WebMD, however, the supplement’s effect on both sleep latency and total sleep time are minimal. Popping a melatonin pill before bed appears to shave only an average of seven to 12 minutes off the time insomniacs spend tossing and turning. And, while some people may report feeling better rested after taking melatonin, the objective data doesn’t always back up their subjective conclusions.;;
How Much Melatonin Should You Take
The United States Food and Drug Administration classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, similar to vitamins and minerals. This classification means that melatonin is not regulated in the same way prescription or over-the-counter medications are. Therefore, there are no safe dosage guidelines for melatonin, making it difficult to determine the right amount to take.
Additionally, melatonin affects each person differently. A low dose of melatonin may cause extreme sleepiness in one person and have no effect on another. There is also conflicting evidence on whether or not this supplement is safe for pregnant women or young children.
Melatonin supplements are available in a wide range of doses. Doses can be as low as 0.3 milligrams to as high as 10 milligrams. Additionally, melatonin supplements are available in a variety of formulations. Examples include oral capsules or tablets, sublingual liquid or sprays, topical creams or drops, and intravenous preparations. Moreover, melatonin is available in different release forms such as immediate, extended, and timed release. The duration and elimination of melatonin depends on all of these factors as well as individual demographics and metabolism, says Dr. David Gao of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Not Having Enough Magnesium In Your Body Can Affect Your Melatonin Levels
“While melatonin can be helpful for sleep, realize that many common vitamin deficiencies can underly insomnia,” Levitan says. For instance, if you want to increase your melatonin levels naturally, getting enough magnesium in your body is sure to help. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that older adults who took a dietary magnesium supplement for eight weeks saw significant increases in the amount of sleep they got, sleep efficiency, and melatonin. Some foods rich in magnesium include leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. “It’s also advisable to replace nutritional deficiencies such as iron, B12, Vitamin D and magnesium with a custom all in one vitamin that meets individual needs,” Levitan says.
Melatonin For Sleep: Does It Work
Melatonin sleep aids are growing in popularity, with 3 million Americansusing them in 2012, according to a nationwide survey from the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention. If youre among them or are consideringmelatonin for sleep, its smart to understand exactly how melatonin works.;
Your body produces melatonin naturally. It doesnt make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep, explains Johns Hopkins sleep expert;Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.
Most peoples bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own. However, there are steps you can take to make the most of your natural melatonin production, or you can try a supplement on a short-term basis if youre experiencing insomnia, want to overcome jet lag, or are a night owl who needs to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier, such as for work or school.
If youd like to harness melatonins sleep-inducing effects, Buenaver recommends taking these steps.
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Can Support Better Sleep
Melatonin is often called the sleep hormone and for good reason.
Its one of the most popular sleep aids and a common natural remedy to treat issues like insomnia.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that melatonin can support better sleep.
One study in 50 people with insomnia showed that taking melatonin two hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster and enhanced overall sleep quality .
Another large analysis of 19 studies in children and adults with sleep disorders found that melatonin reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep, increased total sleep time and improved sleep quality .
However, though melatonin is associated with fewer side effects than other sleep medications, it may be less effective .
Studies show that melatonin can lengthen total sleep time, shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and enhance sleep quality in children and adults.
This type of depression is related to changes in the seasons and occurs each year around the same time, with symptoms typically appearing in late fall to early winter.
Some research indicates that it could be linked to changes in your circadian rhythm caused by seasonal light changes .
Because melatonin plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, low doses are often used to decrease symptoms of seasonal depression.
However, other research is still inconclusive on the effects of melatonin on seasonal depression.
Other Possible Melatonin Side Effects
- Melatonin and birth control effects melatonin supplements may not be safe for women trying to get pregnant. It seems that melatonin has similar effects as birth control, making it more difficult for women to reach ovulation and become pregnant. Some evidence shows that lower doses, up to 3mg are safe, but there is not enough research to prove that.
- Melatonin and bleeding disorders it is believed that regular melatonin intake can worsen the symptoms and effects of bleeding disorders.;Studies;show that melatonin may slow blood clotting or coagulation, which may lead to excessive bleeding and bruising.
- Melatonin and epilepsy studies and current data show that melatonin can trigger or worsen epilepsy and seizure frequency in some people. While some experts argue otherwise, some professionals do not recommend melatonin intake in people who are prone to having epileptic or other types of seizures; not even small doses.
- Melatonin and transplant recipients because melatonin can increase the immune function, it might interfere with immunosuppressive therapy used by transplant recipients.
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How Long Does It Take For Melatonin To Kick In
With the recommended dose of melatonin , it takes around one to two hours to induce sleep. Hence, you should take melatonin supplements two hours before your bedtime.;
If you want to take melatonin to avoid getting jetlag, you need to start taking the pills a few days before you make your trip. Once you reach the new time zone, take the melatonin sleeping aid two hours before you go to bed.
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.
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