The 50 to 70 million Americans who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night can find melatonin to be the ultimate solution for them. It is a powerful hormone, naturally produced in the brain. During the night-time, it sends the signal to the brain that it’s time to shut off for the day.
Insomniacs everywhere often take melatonin as a supplement to cure their insomnia. You can easily buy melatonin supplements from your local drugstore or online. However, buying over-the-counter melatonin often raises the question regarding their dosage – how much should I take melatonin?
Generally, people presume that taking high doses of melatonin is fine. But that is incorrect! A high intake of melatonin causes headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritation. All of these symptoms can disrupt your sleep. Instead of sleeping peacefully, you will stay awake all night.
Melatonin supplements are commonly sold in a wide range of doses from 1 mg to 1000 mg. The right amount of melatonin supplements depend upon an individual’s current health condition and how his/her body processes the supplement.
The treatment of sleep disorders in visually impaired children is a complex process. Often times, doctors and physicians attempt to treat it through an operation and fail. However, the intake of melatonin supplement helps improve sleep disorders in blind children.
A study was carried out on a five-year-old blind boy with multiple disabilities who, with time, developed a sleep-wake cycle disorder. He took melatonin (3 mg) for 4 weeks prior to his bedtime. The study also administered 3 weeks without the intake of melatonin by the same child. The result showed that the child was able to sleep better after consuming melatonin supplements. Although the sleep problem didn’t disappear entirely, it reduced to a considerable extent.
Melatonin not only improves the sleep pattern of visually impaired people but it also improves the quality of sleep among those with intellectual disabilities, such as autism, and central nervous disorders. Melatonin supplements shorten the time it takes for the mentally challenged children to fall asleep. The supplements help restore normal sleep and maintain it for the entire night.
Melatonin also maintains sleep order among those who suffer from rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. It is the stage which occurs during the sleep. The eyes of the sleeper begin to move rapidly in various directions. During REM sleep, the brain is as active as it is when we are awake. It is a phase where breathing becomes fast and irregular. When the person wakes up, he feels tired and dizzy. However, the melatonin supplements help calm the mind. They ensure that you sleep peacefully, without any trouble.
Melatonin also helps to reduce the length of time that people need to fall asleep. Various clinical studies show that by taking melatonin by mouth a few hours prior to bedtime, young adults and children were able to fall asleep quicker than before. However, within one year of stopping the treatment, the sleeping problem seems to return among them. Hence, you shouldn’t stop the consumption of melatonin so that the supplement continues to show its positive results.
Old people often suffer from sleep interruptions. Although they have no trouble falling asleep, they often face problems while staying asleep. They wake up in the middle of the night and find it impossible to get back to sleep. By taking melatonin supplements, elderly people can easily treat their sleep-wake cycle disturbance.
People often take Beta-blocker drugs, such as atenolol and propranolol for blood pressure. These drugs are notorious for lowering your melatonin levels. The decreased levels of melatonin can lead to sleep disorders. Research shows that taking melatonin supplements help reduce sleep disorders among patients taking Beta-blocker drugs.
Various clinical studies show that people with high blood pressure when take the controlled-release form of melatonin before their bedtime, there is a decrease in their blood pressure. Instead of taking Beta-blocker drugs which in turn reduces melatonin levels in your body, it is better to take melatonin supplements. These supplements will effectively help lower your blood pressure.
Melatonin is useful for reducing pain caused due to a uterus disorder, endometriosis. This condition may result in pain during menstruation, intercourse, and even while walking. A study indicates that taking melatonin regularly for 8 weeks help lower the pain by 39.3%. Hence, people suffering from endometriosis must take melatonin supplements daily.
Melatonin also cures jaw pain, also known as, temporomandibular disorder. A clinical study concludes that taking melatonin for 4 weeks before your bedtime reduces the pain by 44%. It also elevates the tolerance level by 39% in women suffering from jaw pain.
People who suffer from insomnia must take melatonin. By 12 minutes, it shortens your time to fall asleep. Moreover, it improves your sleep efficiency as people who take melatonin supplements have reported that melatonin makes them sleep better and faster. It also improves sleep efficiency among people with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and brain injury. In such traumatic injuries, patients often suffer from sleep disturbances and melatonin helps improve that.
Before undergoing a surgery, one may suffer from severe anxiety. The research shows that melatonin is effective in reducing nervousness. You can also consume melatonin to cure the tumor size during chemotherapy or any other cancer treatment. Hence, taking melatonin improves survival rates in cancer patients.
The research also shows that melatonin helps improve the symptoms of jet lag such as disturbed sleep, daytime sleeping, confusion, and concentration problems.
Melatonin is often regarded as a “miracle” drug for people with sleep disorders. Initially, people take high doses of melatonin. They believe that the high doses will help them sleep properly. However, taking a large amount of melatonin may cause harm than good. Your body won’t be able to process melatonin supplements and won’t provide its promised results.
If you aren’t sure how much melatonin you should take, it’s better to always start with smaller doses like 1 mg or 3 mg. Once your body is used to small doses, you can slowly increase the dosage. Doctors recommend that you can increase the dose up to 10 mg, more than that is not good to your overall health.
When you start with a small quantity of melatonin supplement, you allow yourself to see how your body reacts. Generally, small doses do not cause any health issues. However, there are times when melatonin may cause minor side-effects despite taking it in a small quantity. For example, it may disrupt the menstrual cycle and the hormonal development. This may mean that melatonin is not effective for your condition. You should consult your doctor immediately.
If you take melatonin supplements at the wrong time, you might suffer from side-effects. You shouldn’t take melatonin during the daytime as it may make you feel sleepy and lethargic. This way, you won’t be able to actively perform your daily activities.
Melatonin overdose may lead to seizures in people. A 50-year-old woman felt drowsy for straight 12 hours and also reported a slightly increased heart rate when she consumed 100 mg melatonin supplements. In another case, when a 6-year-old child consumed 138 mg of melatonin supplements, she instantly fell asleep for several hours and woke up with unbearable nausea. This is why doctors suggest avoiding the intake of melatonin in high doses.
How Much Melatonin Should an Adult Take?
Different conditions call for different melatonin dosages. Thus, you must know your health issue before incorporating melatonin into your daily diet.
For sleep or insomnia, adults must take 0.3 to 3 mg of melatonin at least an hour before their bedtime. You can increase the dose with time. By the third day, you should be taking 3 mg of melatonin. If it doesn’t produce any effect, increase the dose to 5 or 6 mg.
If you’re someone who has long-term sleep problems, the ideal melatonin dosage is 2 to 3 mg. you should take it before bedtime for up to 7 months. Remember to consult your doctor before taking this supplement for a duration that’s more than 3 to 4 weeks.
To recover from jet lag, adults can take doses between 0.5 to 5 mg at least 1 hour prior to their bedtime. Make sure to take the supplement once you have arrived at your final destination. An alternative is to take doses 1 to 5 mg 1 hour before bedtime for 2 days before the departure and then take it for 2 to 3 days once you have reached your final destination.
For the disrupted sleep-wake cycle, you can take 2 to 12 mg at your bedtime hour for 4 weeks. In order to regulate the blood pressure, you can take 2 to 3 mg of melatonin supplements for up to 4 weeks. However, consult your doctor before you take the supplements for this condition.
Melatonin Dosage for Children
Doctors recommended melatonin to those children who suffer from sleep disturbance, caused due to some mental disability. Melatonin supplements also serve as a therapy for children with an ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or an autism disorder.
The dosages given to children are lower than those given to adults. According to The Natural Medicines Database, a dose of 0.3 mg is safely given to children undergoing a minor surgery. However, parents must ensure that their children don’t consume melatonin supplements on a long-term basis as they can hinder their gonadal development. You should also avoid increasing the dosage level up to 1 to 5 mg as they can result in seizures, especially among young kids.
The safe option for you is to always consult a doctor before you give melatonin to your child. A doctor will guide you whether the product is suitable for the child by considering his age, body weight, and medical history.
Melatonin functions at night in order to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. During daytime, the hormone hardly performs. As the night-time begins, signals present in our optic nerves instruct the brain to produce melatonin. By the generation of melatonin, our body begins to go on a sleep mode.
The pineal gland continues to produce melatonin throughout the night. As the pineal glands produce melatonin, the hormone secretes into our bloodstream and cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and the spinal cord) and conveys signals to all of our bodily organs.
In the process, your tissues produce proteins – receptors that help in the circulation of melatonin in our body during the night. As a new day begins, the pineal gland instantly instructs the brain to stop the melatonin production. The presence of light also decreases the production of melatonin, preparing the body to stay awake.
Just as the concentration of melatonin is higher during the night as compared to the daytime, melatonin levels are higher during the seasons of autumn and winter, when the nights are longer, and lower in the spring and summer, when the nights are shorter.
In animals, mostly mammals and birds, melatonin from the pineal gland is significant for the regulation of the animal’s biology such as their production, behavior, and growth. In humans, pineal glands are limited to the function of sending messages to the brain about the production of melatonin.
Melatonin supplements are a safe product when used in small doses for treating sleep problems. If they don’t show any significant results after a week or two, stop using them. If your sleep problem continues, consult your doctor or physician.
- Optimal dosages for melatonin supplementation therapy in older adults: a systematic review of current literature
- Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag.
- Effects of low oral doses of melatonin, given 2-4 hours before habitual bedtime, on sleep in normal young humans.
- Sleep-inducing effects of low doses of melatonin ingested in the evening.
- Effects of a low dose of melatonin on sleep in children with Angelman syndrome.
- A Pre-Exercise Dose of Melatonin Can Alter Substrate Use During Exercise
- Studies on the minimal dosage of melatonin required to inhibit pineal antigonadotrophic activity in male golden hamsters.