We've all heard it: the world is divided into early birds and night owls, and the people who are lucky enough to be in sync with the natural sleep-wake cycle are few and far in between.
Yet a growing number of people are taking melatonin for sleep, suggesting that restlessness, jet lag, insomnia, and other sleep disorders can impact anyone with little to no discrimination.
Melatonin supplements can be incredibly helpful for those struggling to sleep at night, but the possible side effects and careful dosage requirements can impact your body's functioning for the worse if you are not entirely sure what the official medical advice is on the matter.
So, let's demystify melatonin once and for all!
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that's naturally produced by our brain's pineal gland in order to maintain our body's circadian rhythm. When we talk about our body's "internal clock", we are essentially referring to this natural rhythm: we feel relaxed and sleepy when the sun goes down and more energetic and hungry when darkness fades.
As more melatonin is released by the brain at night, we begin to feel more relaxed, our nerve activity starts to slow down, our body temperature lowers slightly, and ultimately we fall asleep.
But there's much more to melatonin than just sleep. This hormone is also a powerful antioxidant boasting a number of health benefits such as supporting eye health, helping with tinnitus symptoms, ulcers, and heartburn.
How long does melatonin stay in your body?
Naturally released melatonin is automatically regulated by the brain: melatonin levels decrease during the day and increase throughout the evening, peaking as we are falling asleep and decreasing again.
When it comes to melatonin supplements, however, the length of the effects will largely depend on what dose of melatonin you are taking and the amount of time you've been taking the medication for. Other factors such as body weight, metabolism, and overall health status may also influence melatonin levels.
Just like sleep patterns and sleep quality, no one person is the same when it comes to melatonin and its effects!
Generally speaking, however, you can expect melatonin to stay in your body for about five hours due to its half-life.
Melatonin's half life
Studies show that melatonin, regardless of its form and dosage, has a half-life of 20 to 65 minutes.
This window refers to the time it takes for your body to eliminate half a drug (hence half-life), and it will normally take between four and five half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from your system.
Extended release melatonin vs. regular melatonin
Regular melatonin tablets, also known as immediate-release melatonin, dissolve as soon as you take them by instantly releasing melatonin into your bloodstream.
Extended-release melatonin, on the other hand, dissolves slowly by gradually releasing melatonin over time. This process somewhat mimics the way your body would release the hormone throughout the night.
There are benefits to both types: immediate-release tablets will help you fall asleep quicker if you suffer from insomnia or jet lag, while extended-release supplements can help people who struggle with staying asleep by providing a slow release for uninterrupted sleep.
The key is figuring out where your sleep problems lie before you decide to use melatonin tablets — consulting your doctor is crucial for avoiding negative side effects.
How long does it take for melatonin to wear off?
Generally speaking, melatonin tends to start working quickly and its effects are also quick to go away.
While dosage does impact the time it will take for the effects to wear off, taking a higher dose will likely not be the ultimate solution to your sleeplessness — research shows that dosages higher than the regular recommended dose (between 1 to 5mg) tend to increase daytime sleepiness and drowsiness.
Ironically enough, melatonin tablets are very similar to good sleep: it's all about the timing!
You should take an immediate-release supplement no sooner than 30 minutes before going to bed, or alternatively at least one hour before if you suffer from delayed sleep onset and need to opt for an extended-release tablet instead.
Taking too much melatonin can lead to both moderate and severe side effects over time. One of the lesser symptoms is the risk of habituation, a built-up tolerance to the drug that can lead to a loss of effectiveness. On the more serious side, some people tend to experience headaches and nausea, abnormally low blood pressure, and even short-term symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
How long does 3mg melatonin last?
1mg to 3mg melatonin tablets are considered the safest dosage for those experiencing mild sleep problems.
Generally speaking, a 3mg tablet of melatonin will last for about three hours, more than enough for most people to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Starting out at the lowest dosage first will help figure out how severe your sleep issues are, and if you find that 3mg is not enough to help you get a good night's sleep, you can then try increasing your dosage to the upper safe limit of 5mg.
How long does 5mg melatonin last?
If you take melatonin as a 5mg tablet, you can expect the effects to last for about five hours.
Taking more than this dosage is usually not recommended by health professionals as the body will not have enough time to use all the melatonin in your system during the night, leading to daytime drowsiness, confusion, and other adverse effects that will defy the purpose of using melatonin supplements in the first place!
How long does 10mg melatonin last?
A 10 mg dosage will last more than seven hours, and it is generally not even recommended for those suffering from severe insomnia — a dosage of 5mg is regarded as the upper limit.
If you find that even with a 5mg dosage you are still waking up during the night, the safest option is to switch to extended-release tablets or take the melatonin closer to the time you're intending to go to bed.
Make sure to consult your doctor throughout these experiments!
Taking sleep aids like melatonin can be incredibly beneficial for your overall health, helping you maintain a healthy metabolism and body weight, and massively reducing stress and anxiety.
But for many of us, while melatonin supplements tend to put us to sleep quickly, they also cause us to feel lethargic, drowsy, and unmotivated throughout the day.
Not the greatest solution to our sleep problems, isn't it?
If you wish to try a sleep aid that won't fail to let you have a good night's sleep while helping you wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead, we cannot recommend our brand-new, vegan-friendly Natural Sleep Aid enough! Made with natural ingredients, this formula was created to harness the power of plants like chamomile, valerian root, and lemon balm leaf to give you a deeper, more peaceful sleep without any of the adverse effects. The effects of the featured 3mg melatonin are naturally balanced out by the L-Theanine, leaving you feeling refreshed, attentive, and energized after a long quality sleep.
You deserve to know the benefits of sleeping safe and sound without any of the nasties, so if you wish to take melatonin to improve your energy, concentration, and overall mood, our natural and effective formula might just be the answer you were looking for!