How much melatonin should I take?
The answer to this question is not as straight-forward as recommending a daily dosage for adults. It’s important to understand what melatonin is, what it does to your body, and most importantly how it works, before you can understand what the optimal dose is for you.
Without understanding these things first, you may be led to think melatonin can’t help you get your sleep back on track.
What is melatonin anyway?
Magical sleep dust? Not quite. Although, that is probably how a lot of people think of it.
Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in your body. It is part of your body’s response to darkness, which has led to the nickname “hormone of darkness“. This is one of the ways melatonin helps your body regulate your sleep-wake cycles, and why you naturally get sleepy when it gets dark outside.
If you find yourself waking up too early or staying up too late, a melatonin supplement might be a good way to help you return to your typical sleep-wake cycle.
What is melatonin doing to your body?
Melatonin interacts with the receptors in your brain that are responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycles. When melatonin interacts with these receptors, it tells the body it’s time to start getting ready for sleep. You start to feel drowsy, eye lids get heavier, and you probably start yawning more frequently.
Ever wondered why it’s so easy to stay up late during the summer, and much more difficult to do the same in the winter? Melatonin.
In the summer your body doesn’t start producing its natural melatonin until a couple hours later in the day than it does in the winter.
Melatonin also helps to regulate other bodily functions that are not immediately associated with sleep, but definitely contribute to the regulation of your sleep-wake cycles. Functions like body temperature regulation and blood pressure regulation are assisted by melatonin.
Ok... So how much melatonin should I take???
Here are the 6 secrets behind optimal melatonin consumption
Now that you have a better understanding of what melatonin is, what it does to your body, and how it works, let’s dive into the optimal amount of melatonin for you.
There are several factors that can impact your optimal melatonin amount, including, the reason for taking melatonin, body weight, age, and timing of your consumption.
- Start low and work from there: A good amount to start with is about 0.5 to 1 mg of melatonin. Observe and note how your body responds, then adjust accordingly. Try not to make aggressive adjustments. Move up or down 0.5 to 1 mg at a time.
- Time it just right: It’s been shown that timing of melatonin consumption can be more important than amount. Taking it after bedtime might actually require higher amounts to be effective. Whereas taking it 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime smaller amounts will deliver optimal results.
- Consistency for the win: When taking melatonin supplements, consistency is going to be as important as anything. Once you find the time that works best for your melatonin routine, stick with it. The amount of melatonin you take, the time you take it, the environment you set when you take it, all should be the same as much as possible.
- Don’t commit to anything serious: Melatonin supplements are intended to be a short-term solution to get your sleep-cycles back on track. This is not the one you’re taking home to meet mom. You should consult your healthcare provider if you find yourself needing a longer term solution.
- Stack the deck in your favor: Your sleep is not an exclusive strategy. You should be doing everything you can to optimize your sleep. Some other sleep-promoting strategies include, putting your phone down, creating a relaxing environment, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, exercise during the day, good hydration practices, and more.
- Did we mention putting your phone down?: Don’t scroll yourself into tomorrow morning. Put some boundaries around screens for yourself at night, and help your brain calm down and rest. Your brain is a muscle. Would you do curls in bed just because you’re bored? Probably not. Stop scrolling, start sleeping.
Once you’ve crafted a plan for your melatonin routine, put it to the test. Your goal should be to find the smallest amount of melatonin that is effective. If you don’t get sufficient results early on, make sure to try adjusting when you consume your melatonin supplement. Don’t assume more = better.
How much melatonin is too much?
Maybe you’ve been taking melatonin for a while, trying to get your sleep back on track, and you’re convinced melatonin can’t help you at this point. It’s possible you’ve been taking too much and not taking it at the right time.
These are two mistakes that can be quite common when trying to use melatonin to correct your sleep pattern. If you are taking more than 5 mg of melatonin, you likely fall into this category. As we already pointed out, the timing of taking melatonin is MORE important than the amount you take.
Our Life Leaf Sweet Dreams Gummies contain a mere 3 mg of melatonin, so usually folks assume it won’t work for them because they’ve been taking 5+ mg. The fun part is when they come back surprised reporting the best sleep they’ve had since trying different melatonin supplements.
If you take more than 5 mg of melatonin, try reducing the amount to 5 mg (or lower) and take it earlier than you usually do. Remember, with melatonin, more does not = better.
Melatonin NOT just for optimizing sleep?
That’s right. Melatonin has been shown to have several health benefits outside of the benefits associated with improved sleep. Some of these health benefits include:
- Immune system support: Melatonin can help the immune system by increasing production of T-helper cells, and enhance the activity of natural killer (NK) cells that help to detect and destroy viruses, bacteria, and other threats.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Melatonin has shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which can be helpful for a lot of things. Chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of health issues.
- Antioxidant: Melatonin has antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage caused by aging.
- Defense against neurodegenerative diseases: Melatonin has shown potential to help protect against some neurodegenerative diseases by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
Natural sources of melatonin
Maybe you would prefer to find natural ways to incorporate melatonin into your routine, like adding melatonin-rich foods to your evening diet. Not everyone is comfortable taking a pill or capsule, and after all, nature is the provider of the best natural remedies.
Here are some foods that are naturally high in melatonin:
- Tart cherries: Researchers have found that tart cherries raise the melatonin levels in the body. Tart cherries are high in sugar as well, so you don’t want to get carried away with these at night. Some folks prefer to drink tart cherry juice, but eating the cherries are the healthier option between the two.
- Goji berries: These berries are also high in melatonin and make a great natural sleep aid. They also have developed a reputation for their anti-again effects.
- Eggs: Most folks know about the food powerhouse that eggs are. They’re rich in protein, iron, and other essential nutrients, including melatonin. In fact, they are one of the best sources of melatonin from animal products.
- Milk: Another animal product that’s high in melatonin is milk. A lot of people associate an evening glass of milk with falling asleep, and that’s why, because it is high in melatonin.
- Nuts: In addition to being high in omega-3 fats, anti-oxidants, and minerals, nuts are a good source of melatonin. Specifically almonds and pistachios.
If you haven’t yet been made aware, we at Life Leaf absolutely love natural remedies. We are surrounded by natural remedies everywhere from the moment we wake up to the moment we drift off to dreamland. It’s up to us to identify these natural remedies and take advantage of them as much as it makes sense to.
Melatonin is one of the most popular natural remedies in the world. We don’t really have a choice of whether to rely on melatonin or not, because it’s produced by our bodies naturally. If life has knocked you off of your optimal sleep routine, melatonin is one of the best ways to correct your routine and get those sweet dreams back on track.
Master your sleep routine, and feel better today!
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What Does Melatonin Do, and How Does It Work? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/melatonin-and-sleep (2022)