- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
Melatonin supplements are used as sleep aids by many people. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the body that helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements can support better sleep as well as address other issues that stem from interruptions in your body’s sleep-wake cycle, including jetlag and shift work sleep disorder.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, so it is generally safer and has fewer side effects than taking prescription sleep aids. Melatonin is considered a supplement by the FDA and is therefore very loosely regulated. That means that purity, quality, and safety may vary between brands.
Melatonin supplements cost between $5-$15 per bottle. This guide will cover our top melatonin supplement picks for 2019. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis. This guide will also help you understand considerations and potential challenges when taking melatonin supplements, along with additional information about how to add naturally occurring melatonin to your diet.
The Nature Made Melatonin supplement is simple and straightforward. Each serving contains 3mg of melatonin and less than 4% of anything but melatonin. Nature Made prides itself on 45 years of experience producing pure, high-quality supplements.
These supplements have no added colors, artificial flavors, gluten, preservatives, or yeast. While they do contain dibasic calcium phosphate, sodium starch glycolate, and magnesium stearate, all are common tablet ingredients.
Each bottle is around $.03 per dosage, making it an affordable option for experimenting with different dosages. The small pill size makes this supplement easy to swallow. This product, like all melatonin supplements, is labeled as unsuitable for users under 18 years of age.
Recommended serving size: One tablet, 30 minutes before bedtime.
Vitafusion was founded with a mission to be both delicious and nutritious. Their Extra Strength Melatonin is a potent, single-ingredient supplement that packs 5mg into each two-gummy dosage. These supplements are delicious but don’t take an extra gummy (or two). Excessive melatonin in the bloodstream can not only lead to drowsy mornings but actually, make your sleep problems worse.
Vitafusion Melatonin Extra Strength’s key ingredient is simply melatonin with less than 2% of each dose comprising beeswax, coconut oil, tapioca syrup, and natural colors. Vitafusion has a small portfolio of sleep aids. Their Vitafusion Sleep Well supplement includes 3mg of melatonin, along with passionflower, chamomile, and lemon balm.
Vitafusion Beauty Sleep also offers 3mg of melatonin and includes Vitamin D and sour cherry powder. Sour cherry powder is proven to help support melatonin production in the human body.
But if you’re looking for a single, direct dose of melatonin to nod off quickly, the Extra Strength variety is recommended. Like all melatonin supplements, this one is not suitable for children under 16 years of age.
Recommended serving size: 2 gummies before bed.
For sleepers that need a low dosage melatonin supplement, we recommend Utzy Naturals Micro Melatonin. Utzy Naturals is founded on research that smaller amounts of melatonin is more effective as a sleep aid. Each tablet contains 250 mcg of melatonin and 100mg of sour cherry powder. The idea is to allow each sleeper to gently adjust their dosage to optimize better sleep. The lower dosage also helps avoid any habit-forming tendencies when taking the sleep aid.
Designed by botanical researcher Dr. Jeremy Johnson, Micro Melatonin’s formulation is backed by scientific research and clinical studies. Made from natural, herbal ingredients, all Utzy supplements are made in the USA in a FDA-registered factory and are tested for purity, potency, and safety.
The Micro Melatonin also comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy with the result, expect a full refund with no questions asked.
Recommended serving size: Take 1 tablet an hour before bed. For best results, place the tablet under your tongue and allow it to dissolve. Experiment with dosage to figure out what works best for your body.
Sometimes a little help is needed to fully reach deep sleep, and that is where a melatonin supplement can help. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body and helps regulate the circadian rhythms that control that sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin can support better sleep as well as address other issues that stem from interruptions in circadian rhythms:
It’s important to understand your body’s sleep-wake cycles when using melatonin. It also takes some experimentation to learn which types of supplements and dosages work best for you. This guide offers an in-depth look at important considerations for first-time melatonin supplement buyers.
Melatonin is a natural hormone your body produces in the pineal gland. It helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin can be purchased over the counter as a sleep-aid. Small amounts of melatonin are also found in wine and certain types of food.
Sometimes called “the hormone of the night”, melatonin slows the firing frequency of your body’s master clock, which reduces the arousal levels in the body and signals the onset of sleep. A person with typical sleep patterns will see melatonin levels start to rise 14 to 16 hours after awakening.
The melatonin cycle operates roughly opposite of body temperature cycle. Body temperature is the highest, and melatonin is the lowest, late in the afternoon and early evening. Conversely, in the early morning, the body temperature is at its lowest and the melatonin level is at its highest. Melatonin is kicked into production with the reduction of light.
Melatonin plays a larger role in the body’s regulatory systems than sleep. It also aids in the body’s antioxidant defenses, helps regulate blood pressure, body temperature, cortisol levels, sexual functions, and immune functions. Melatonin decreases with age.
Melatonin is also thought to help increase rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep in sleepers who otherwise have disruptions in that phase of sleep. REM disruptions may come from a range of factors, including alcohol consumption and more serious issues such as REM-sleep behavior disorder (RBD).
Low melatonin levels in the bloodstream interrupt the body’s circadian cycles and can lead to restlessness. Supplemental melatonin taken one hour before bedtime may help you achieve restful sleep. It can also combat other sleep-related issues, like jetlag.
Conversely, too much melatonin in the body can lead to drowsiness during the day and further scramble sleep patterns. In excess, melatonin can have negative side effects. At very high dosages, symptoms may include hypothermia and headache.
Like other sleep aids, excessive use of this hormone can result in rebound insomnia through desensitization of receptors.
Some people have light sleep issues, and a tiny dose of melatonin is all that is needed to sleep well. Others may have chronic sleep disorders and may think that higher dosages will help them sleep. That may be true, but it’s never advisable to start with large doses of melatonin.
Some melatonin supplements have single-ingredient formulas. Others are supported with additional, often natural, sleep aids such as passionflower, chamomile, and sour cherry. Your body will react to these different formulas in its own way.
The consumption of melatonin supplements has benefits and drawbacks. Many factors, including age, overall health, life situations and dosage affect the success you may have with using melatonin supplements as a sleep aid.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting melatonin if you are taking any prescription medications, are pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Here are lists of pros and cons when using melatonin:
Melatonin can be effective as a sleep aid and it can address biological issues beyond sleep too. Melatonin has a powerful antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties.
Melatonin inhibits an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) that produces inflammatory chemicals in the body. Unlike pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine, melatonin does not affect the stomach lining. Furthermore, melatonin not only reduces pain perception in animal models of inflammation, but can also increase the analgesic effects of NSAID drugs.
Melatonin’s antioxidant properties are being researched to battle cognitive illnesses. As an antioxidant, melatonin works to protect proteins and lipids from damage caused by free radicals. Among these free radicals are ones that are known to be responsible for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.
Melatonin is also known to aid cellular regeneration. It’s being experimented with to aid in cancer treatment. It has had success with tumor-reduction and reducing prostate cancer cell growth rates. Doctors increasingly explore this hormone’s use in the field of oncology.
Melatonin is a hormone. Excesses of a hormone in the human body cause hormonal imbalances that can have various effects on individuals. With women, large amounts of melatonin can affect changes in blood serum concentrations of reproductive system hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and luteinizing hormone. There are fears that melatonin consumption can stop ovulation and menstruation or induce miscarriages, although science on these questions appears to be sketchy. Melatonin can reduce sperm motility in men.
Additionally, melatonin can also negatively interact with other medications, including:
Melatonin is a relatively safe supplement to take as a sleep aid, but it’s important to consult a doctor if you are taking melatonin in combination with other drugs, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Melatonin supplements can be naturally and synthetically made. Natural melatonin supplements are derived from the pineal glands of animals. This form is not necessarily vegetarian or cruelty-free, depending on the methods with which it was extracted. Natural melatonin may also carry viruses from the original animal. Synthetic melatonin is manmade and does not involve the use of other animals. FDA regulations on melatonin are not particularly strict, so purity varies between manufacturers.
A study that analyzed the melatonin content in 31 melatonin supplements purchased at pharmacies and grocery stores found that 70 percent of the supplements tested had more or less melatonin than what was advertised. One chewable melatonin tablet labeled as 1.5 milligrams actually contained almost 9 milligrams. It is important to understand which brands can be trusted.
The pineal gland is an endocrine gland in your brain that synthesizes and secretes melatonin. It is about the size of a pea and is the middle of your brain.
Melatonin is a hormone that communicates information about environmental lighting to various parts of the body. It has the ability to regulate circadian rhythms and has important effects on reproductive function of many animals. The light-transducing ability of the pineal gland has led some to call the pineal the “third eye.”
There is not a singular, correct dosage of melatonin. How much you should take depends on many factors, including your body’s natural sensitivity levels, your overall health, your age, and what conditions in your life are prompting you to use it in the first place.
The standard dose of melatonin for adults is between 2 tenths of a milligram and 5 milligrams. Take the supplement 60 minutes before you want to fall asleep.
Some experts suggest buying pharmaceutical-grade melatonin online, as the dosage is likely to be more reliable. The table below lists common recommended melatonin dosages. Please remember to consult a physician before taking melatonin supplements for the first time.
|Jet lag||0.5 to 5 mg a few days before and after arrival|
|Circadian rhythm disorders or insomnia||0.5 to 5 mg|
|Delayed sleep phase syndrome||0.3 to 6 mg|
If you use melatonin to help sleep, you can rest assured that even if you take way too much, it isn’t going to hurt you (although you’ll probably regret it the next day). It’s generally safe for short-term use, is non-habit-forming, and studies show that it does have some benefit as a sleep aid.
But as with any medication or supplement, it’s best to take the smallest, effective dosepossible. From there, you can add onto your dosage as needed. This method will reduce the likelihood of side-effects. If you have a health condition or are taking prescription medications, you should talk to your doctor before you start taking it.
Taking too much melatonin over a long period of time, can have damaging side effects.
The first sign that your dosage was too high the night before is waking up with a melatonin hangover. You may feel groggy, sleepy, or have a headache, you may have taken too much melatonin.
High levels of melatonin in the bloodstream may also be signaled by mild depression, low body temperature (hypothermia), irritability, and stomach cramps. Mild tremors and low blood pressure are less common but could be symptoms of too much melatonin.
Taking too much melatonin for too long can support a condition called rebound insomnia. As melatonin is a hormone that regulates your body clock, flooding it with one hormone can create an imbalance that may knock your entire body clock out of sync.
One upside to using melatonin is that you’re not likely to become dependent on it, which can happen with prescription sleep aids. However, taking high doses for a long period of time can have the opposite of the desired effect — it will keep you up instead of helping you sleep. This happens because using too much melatonin for too long can desensitize the body’s neurological receptors, dulling the impact melatonin has on regulating sleep.
If melatonin is not helping you sleep after 1-2 weeks of use, it’s likely never going to help you.
Giving melatonin to children can be a controversial topic. In Europe, melatonin supplements are actually prescription-only medicine that is intended solely for adults. In the USA, the FDA has neither approved its use nor evaluated its safety in children.
There are many reasons why a child or adolescent may experience sleep interruptions. Emotional stressors such as a divorce, moving to a new town, attending a new school or moving up to a new grade can cause anxiety and disrupt sleep. Teens can experience a circadian rhythm disorder called “delayed sleep phase” in which the natural sleep and rise times are much later than normal (by three hours or more). Melatonin has been helpful to manage delayed sleep phase in teens, along with other adjustments such as reduced screen time before sleep, black out curtains, and other measures to reduce light exposure in the evening.
Since melatonin is a hormone, giving it to your child may have unanticipated results. Some studies have suggested that melatonin usage in children may delay puberty, but the reality is that there isn’t enough research on the matter to draw conclusive evidence.
That said, studies have found that melatonin can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep in children with sleep problems — especially children with ADHD and autism. However, there isn’t much evidence that melatonin is helpful for children who wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep.
Long-term studies are needed before melatonin can be used with absolute safety in children. If your child cannot sleep, it may be best to resort to sour cherry juice, or other melatonin-inducing foods and drinks, to help them fall asleep.
Melatonin is a supplement according to the FDA, so it’s not strictly regulated. As a result, purity, quality and safety are all subject to interpretation by each brand that makes the supplement.
Melatonin has been known to have several benefits beyond sleep aid, but it’s important to speak to a medical professional before taking melatonin supplements. And although the hormone is showing promise in cancer treatment and as an aid for people with some cognitive illnesses, it is not a cure for these diseases or conditions.
Researchers are working hard to unveil the myriad advantages melatonin supplements can bring to the human body, but there is still much more research ahead to understand its true worth and benefits at a medical level. For now, it may be best to use it occasionally to get a good night of sleep, especially when your sleep wake cycle has been thrown off of its natural course, such as from jet lag.