Melatonin has become somewhat of a buzzword and is well known by anybody who has trouble catching a decent night’s sleep. Naturally released from our pineal gland, melatonin is necessary for rest and is distributed through our bloodstream during the nighttime.
Melatonin production in the pineal gland is directly linked to our exposure to light, a discovery made in the 1980s.
Given how behavioral habits have changed over the decades, we are more exposed to lights for more prolonged periods than ever before. Without proper melatonin levels, people may experience sleep deprivation which can inadvertently impact other areas of their health.
If you’re considering using melatonin to assist with achieving a better sleep schedule, you’ll want to know how to take the supplement most effectively. Several factors will determine if you should take melatonin and, by extension, how and when to take it. While some studies gauge melatonin dosage by weight, other factors such as age and lifestyle are more crucial to how much you should be taking.
What Is a Good Melatonin Dosage
When discussing the use of supplemental melatonin, it is vital to understand what dosage is correct for you. During the day, melatonin blood levels for a healthy and young person are about ten pg/ml during the daytime and 150 pg/ml at night.
The significant rise in melatonin causes sleepiness during the night, and as our body rests and daylight signals us to wake up, our melatonin levels recede.
Unfortunately, with age, the body’s ability to produce melatonin significantly decreases. Many adults over the age of 50 can only produce melatonin blood levels up to 40 pg/ml, even at the peak of a sleep cycle.
For adults over 50, melatonin can prove extremely helpful in finally achieving full and restful sleep. Some studies show proper dosages can help acquire melatonin blood levels similar to young adults. Luckily, the appropriate dosage is generally less than you think, and finding a good level for you doesn’t have to be complicated.
Many found doses of 0.1 mg, 0.3 mg, and 3 mg to be more than adequate, with the 0.3 mg dose resulting in the best outcome. A 0.3 mg dosage lasts several hours before clearing the body, at which point, a 0.6 mg dosage might be recommended if you find it necessary.
What Is Too Much Melatonin?
Again, with melatonin, most studies show that less is more, and for the average adult, doses between 0.1 mg – 3 mg are plenty. Your dosage, of course, can vary depending on necessity and lifestyle.
In situations such as travel or if you’re pairing melatonin with other medications, the dose you take may change. Generally speaking, you can take slightly more melatonin to acclimate to time-zone changes a few days before and during travel. And if you’re taking other medications, you don’t have to worry about taking melatonin supplements, as it is naturally present in our bloodstreams.
Too much melatonin will have adverse effects, causing receptor proteins to become far less reactive over time — people who take high doses of melatonin note ineffectiveness and decreased sensitivity to the supplement. Anyone should avoid taking 5 mg – 10 mg worth of melatonin in single doses, as this is too much and can undoubtedly result in desensitization.
Thankfully, if you’ve taken too much melatonin, you can switch back to low doses, which should resolve any desensitization with time. Some melatonin supplements come in time-release capsules, which quickly break down the first dose but take longer to break the second dose down.
The Best Time to Take Melatonin
Most people who have had positive results with melatonin take their supplements about an hour before bedtime. When getting used to melatonin, taking your dose just before going to sleep may be acceptable if your body is sensitive to supplements.
If you plan to sleep at 9:00 PM or shortly after, the optimal time to take a low dose is generally 8:00 – 8:30 PM.
Consider getting your body prepared for a time zone change in those specific scenarios, like trying to accommodate for travel or jet lag. If you’re traveling westward, take your melatonin a couple of hours before bed, and if traveling east, you will take melatonin just before your usual bedtime.
Bottom Line and Things to Consider
Like many supplements, melatonin can prove to be highly effective in helping you maintain optimal health and is fantastic when used correctly. You don’t need much of it, and there are virtually no side effects from using melatonin as instructed. Stick with low doses, and you’ll avoid desensitization and ineffectiveness.
It is worth noting that taking melatonin during the day can disrupt your sleep schedule and yield unwanted results, such as grogginess.
Though there should be no side effects from taking melatonin with any other prescribed medication, consult your primary care physician if you have any concerns.