How Much Melatonin Should You Take As An Adult?

Dec 09, 2020 Melatonin Sleep Tips

How Much Melatonin Should You Take As An Adult?

Quick Health Scoop

  • Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body.
  • Melatonin helps regulate your circadian rhythm—your internal clock that regulates the sleep/wake cycle.
  • As a 100% drug-free sleep supplement, melatonin can help you fall asleep faster.
  • The proper melatonin dosage depends on your age. 

If you’ve ever struggled to fall asleep—or stay asleep—you might have considered taking a sleep aid product. While traditional over-the-counter or prescription “sleeping pills” have been around for decades, they’re medications that can have serious long-term side effects if they are overused or abused.1 These medications can also be habit-forming which is why many people turn to melatonin, a 100% drug-free sleep supplement that can support restful sleep and falling asleep faster. But you may wonder, what, exactly, is melatonin? And when and how much melatonin should you take, and for how long?

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About Melatonin

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland found in the brain.2 Created in response to darkness, melatonin plays a role in the body’s circadian rhythm, your internal clock that regulates your daily  sleep/wake cycle. It’s important to note that when you’re exposed to “blue” light in the evening (think glowing cell phones, computers and TV screens), this can impede the body’s natural  production of melatonin resulting in disrupted sleep.3

It is therefore best to turn off all your screens at least 30 minutes before you plan to fall to sleep.

Learn More: Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

How Much Melatonin Does Your Body Produce Naturally?

The production of melatonin signals your body that it’s nighttime, allowing you to relax and lowering your body temperature. This helps you transition to sleep easier and promote consistent, quality sleep.4 Most people produce adequate melatonin to sleep on their own, with levels increasing at night and then diminishing in the morning, which is when the hormone cortisol increases, that promote wakefulness. The amount of melatonin the body actually produces varies throughout your lifetime, with levels increasing and decreasing during various life stages.5 Further, the aging process, diet, and stress can all disrupt the body’s normal production of melatonin, which may make quality sleep more difficult.

Why Do Some People Need Extra Support to Sleep?

Imagine you’re traveling across the country, spanning a time zone or two along the way. It could wreak havoc on your sleep (a.k.a. jet lag). Or what if you occasionally work the night shift, throwing your sleep/wake cycle completely off balance? But even something as common as stress might make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep sometimes. Taking a melatonin supplement may help in these instances.3 Practicing sleep hygiene tips for better sleep, such as reducing screen time at night, and going to bed at the same time each night may also help. Some people can’t relax their mind as they wind down for the night.

What Is The Proper Melatonin Dosage For Adults?

If you’re considering taking a supplement, you might be asking yourself, “How much melatonin should I take?” Or you might wonder how much melatonin someone should take for the desired effect—is less more? How much melatonin is too much, and how long should I take it for?

A safe amount of melatonin that can be taken ranges in doses from 0.3–10 mg per day, but it really depends on your age and specific sleep issue. Typically, it’s best to start with a low dose (0.3-3.0) and increase it (as needed after a week) to find what works best for you.6 If you aim to support sleep quality, take melatonin about 30-60 minutes before you go to bed for maximum effectiveness. If you feel groggy the next day after using melatonin as a natural sleep aid, you may have taken too high of a dosage. If this happens, try taking a lower dose next time and see if that solves the problem.4

Learn More: Can You Take Melatonin Every Night?

How Much Melatonin Is Too Much?

Taken on a short-term basis, melatonin has very few side effects and when they do appear, they tend to be mild. Research shows that some side effects of taking melatonin can include headache, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness.3 Low dose melatonin can safely be taken for up to 3 months, however doses higher than 5 mg should not be taken for longer than 2 months.

If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should consult your physician before taking melatonin. Keep in mind that, like all supplements, melatonin might interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure or blood thinning medicines so best to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin if you are taking prescription medications. In older adults, melatonin may remain active in their bodies longer than it does in younger people and also may cause daytime lethargy.3 

Learn More: Is It Safe to Take Melatonin While Pregnant?

The Bottom Line

If you struggle to fall asleep (or sleep through the night) once your head hits the pillow, you might benefit from taking melatonin to help regulate your body’s sleep cycle. The optimal melatonin dose depends on your age, so start with the lowest dose of melatonin as may be effective to meet your needs. If you’re not sure whether taking a melatonin supplement is the right choice for you (or how much melatonin to take), talk with your health care professional for guidance and support.

Learn More: Melatonin Dreams: How It Affects Your REM Sleep

 

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your 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.


References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. “Sleeping Pills.” 2017. Accessed on: September 17, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/15308-sleeping-pills
  2. US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. “Melatonin Effects on Hard Tissues: Bone and Tooth.” May 2013. Accessed on: September 17, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676828/
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Melatonin: What You Need to Know.” 2019. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
  4. National Sleep Foundation. “Melatonin and Sleep.” 2020. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/melatonin-and-sleep
  5. Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network. “What Is Melatonin?” November 2018. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/melatonin   
  6. Healthline. “Melatonin: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Dosage.” September 14, 2018. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/melatonin
  7. US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. “The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature.” 2014. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4273450/
  8. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. “Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Intrinsic Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders: Advanced SleepWake Phase Disorder (ASWPD), Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD), Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder (N24SWD), and Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder (ISWRD). An Update for 2015.” 2015. Accessed on: September 18, 2020. https://aasm.org/resources/clinicalguidelines/crswd-intrinsic.pdf

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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