I hear from patients all the time who have tried melatonin to help with their sleep issues and ended up feeling even worse than they do when they can’t get enough sleep.
I am constantly being asked “How much melatonin should I take to sleep?” and “Why isn’t melatonin helping me sleep?”. There are plenty of reasons why it might not be working for you, but one of the most common is that you could be taking it wrong.
What is Melatonin Exactly? What is it Used For?
It’s important to understand that melatonin isn’t just a sleeping pill that will work for everybody. To understand why, we need to take a closer look at what Melatonin is and the way it works.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland—a pea-sized gland in the middle of our brain. Its purpose is to regulate our circadian rhythm to fall in line with the natural dark/light cycles of the sun. When the sun goes down, our pineal gland gets turned on by the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the hypothalamus. Then melatonin levels rise quickly to make you sleepy.
However, if you are not in a dimly lit environment, the brain is tricked into thinking it is still daytime. That’s why you don’t get sleepy when you’re on your tablet or watching TV. The blue light emitted from electronic devices suppresses our natural production of melatonin. So even if we know we are tired and need to go to sleep, our brain is getting the opposite message.
Millions of people turn to melatonin to help them avoid another sleepless night, and while it’s known to be a natural sleep aid, you could still be taking it and not feeling any effect.
Can melatonin help with sleep?
It’s also important to note that while melatonin helps tell the body when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up, it doesn’t actually make you fall asleep. This is why if you’ve had your sleep pattern disrupted, it can help to reset your confused body and brain.
While melatonin has been shown in some studies to work effectively for some sleep problems, others show no positive effect. That’s why it’s important to discuss taking melatonin sleeping pills with your doctor before buying them. You may be wasting your money and seeing no change.
Is Melatonin Safe?
Although melatonin is considered a natural sleep aid, there are potential side effects to be aware of. Most people take it with no problems at all, but if you are thinking of trying it, it’s a good idea to be aware of the possible problems that can arise.
- Morning drowsiness
- Vivid dreams
- Small changes in blood pressure
How Much Melatonin Do You Need?
Most people overdo it with the melatonin and then claim it doesn’t work. You only need tiny doses to support your natural sleep cycle. As little as 1-3 mg about an hour before you go to bed can boost your melatonin by 20 times. If it still doesn’t work for you, it’s likely your sleep problems have other causes and need further investigation by a doctor. The short answer is: Try to take less melatonin and then call your doctor.
Final Thoughts on Melatonin and Sleep
- Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for setting our sleep-wake cycle.
- Melatonin isn’t a generic sleeping pill that will work for everyone.
- It’s always a good idea to start off with a very low dose of melatonin and see how you do. As little as 1-3 mg may be enough.
Looking for more tips for better sleep?
Watch the video below where Dr. Robin Berzin shares her top biohacks to help you get deeper, more quality sleep.
You’ll learn how to:
- Optimize your sleeping environment
- Improve your daily habits
- Create a bedtime routine
- Account for hormone spikes
- Find the perfect supplement