Have you ever wondered to yourself, “how much melatonin should I take?” Most people take the wrong dosage of melatonin, rendering it much less effective. In this article, I will tell you the effects of taking the wrong dosage as well as the correct dosage to take.
Let’s jump right in!
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body. It is a signal to the body that it is the nighttime and that the body should prepare to sleep. During the daytime, the body ceases production of melatonin. As the day progresses, and particularly as light becomes less abundant, the body creates more and more melatonin. As melatonin levels rise in your body, you eventually become tired.
Why is Melatonin Used Frequently?
In our day and age, we are using phones and computers more often. All these screens emit blue light that send signals to decrease melatonin production. As such, melatonin supplementation becomes important to help combat this issue. Another potential solution to this issue is to wear blue light filtering glasses
Melatonin is a “gentle” sleep medication with few side effects, significantly fewer than some other prescription sleep medications. For this reason, many physicians prescribe it.
However, even many physicians prescribe it without looking at literature for the proper dosage. In fact, most physicians prescribe dosages that are 1000+% more than you should be taking
What Are the Effects of Too Much Melatonin?
When you take more melatonin than necessary it does a couple things:
- Your body cannot clear it all by the morning time resulting in increased blood levels of melatonin when you wake up. This may create a “hang over” effect
- Your core body temperature is affected at night (lower core body temperature).
- You get less efficient sleep than if you had a lower dosage!
The 3 points above are shown to be true through studies done out of MIT. The researchers also pointed out that high dosages of melatonin likely cause sleep abnormalities and circadian rhythm disorders, rather than fixing it.
Also, high dosages of melatonin stop working after a couple days, which does not occur with the proper dosage. The receptors in the brain respond to high dosages by becoming unresponsive.
Do Lower Dosages of Melatonin Really Result in Better Sleep?
In the study done at MIT, lower dosages of melatonin actually improved sleep more than higher dosages. It seems a little contradictory, but it is true. Higher dosages of melatonin improve sleep, but only to a certain point. That certain point is about 0.3-0.5mg. Higher dosages beyond that do not improve sleep. In fact, they made sleep efficiency worse.
What is the Optimal Dosage of Melatonin?
Based on the MIT study, Melatonin 0.3mg or 300mcg is the optimal dose. This is the amount that they tested that improves sleep the most.
They also tested 0.1mg and 3mg. At both of those dosages, sleep improved, but not as much as the 0.3mg dosage. Furthermore, as I said earlier, with the higher dosage of 3mg, melatonin lingered in the body and also affected the body’s temperature.
Why is the Optimal Dosage of Melatonin So Hard to Find?
The correct dosage of melatonin is hard to find because people have been taking it incorrectly for so long.
Take this far too common scenario: I approach someone taking Melatonin 5mg and tell him that he should be taking 0.3mg. He chuckles. “Doc, trust me, 0.3mg won’t touch me. 5mg barely does the job!” Even when talking to other physicians, the conversation goes the same way.
As we know from economics, what people buy is what ultimately fills the shelves. Since less people reach to buy low dosages of melatonin, fewer places stock these low dosages.
This all started because of the initial patent related to melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body so it cannot be patented. Instead, the MIT researchers patented a dosage of melatonin. After the studies performed at MIT showing that lower dosages of melatonin work better, the MIT researchers patented a dosages of less than 1mg. Because of this patent, pharmacies could not sell melatonin less than 1mg. Instead they decided to fill the shelves instead with melatonin 3mg, 5mg, or 10mg.
Interestingly, few physicians have read the research on correct melatonin dosage. They further perpetuate the purchase and stocking of wrong doses by telling their patients to take high doses.
Comparison Table: The Correct Dosage – Melatonin 300mcg
See below to see an easy-to-read comparison table of the few companies online that sell melatonin 300mcg. It’s shocking to see how many companies sell melatonin 1mg, 3mg, 5mg, and 10mg…and how few sell melatonin 0.3mg.
MedicalGeeker Rating 9.8/10
384 user ratings
|Life Extension Melatonin 300mcg|
MedicalGeeker Rating 9.0/10
266 user ratings
|Nootropics Depot Melatonin Capsules|
MedicalGeeker Rating 8.0/10
23 user ratings
Is Melatonin Actually Worth Taking?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, I highly recommend taking an appropriate dosage of melatonin. The side effects are relatively minimal. It decreases time to sleep. It improves sleep efficiency. What is there not to like about it?
Some people may argue that it doesn’t work or doesn’t fix their sleep problem. If this is the case, then you may want to consider other factors that may be leading to poor sleep. Are your thoughts racing at night? Do you have anxiety or depression (which impact sleep)? Have you examined your sleep hygiene? Have you developed a fear of insomnia, which actually causes insomnia?
Regardless of other factors, melatonin still has more benefits than risks. In the worst case scenario, if you need a prescription hypnotic, melatonin likely further potentiates the effects of your prescription hypnotic. This may mean you can take a smaller dosage of your prescription.
Do not gloss over melatonin just because it does not instantly put you to sleep.
Which brand do I recommend?
I highly recommend Sundown Melatonin 300mcg, it simply works. It not only is the right dosage, but it comes at a good price. I used to buy Melatonin 1mg sublingual tablets, which I would break into 4 separate pieces for a 0.25mg dosage, but I found this process to be tedious and inaccurate. Trust me in this, it’s easier to just buy the correct dosage. Leave it by your bedside and take one every night 30-60 minutes before sleep. I oftentimes can’t plan that far in advance, so I just pop a melatonin right as I crawl into bed.
Zhdanova IV, Wurtman RJ, Regan MM, Taylor JA, Shi JP, Leclair OU. Melatonin treatment for age-related insomnia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001;86(10):4727-30.