When to Take Melatonin
December 12, 2012
According to a poll taken by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 70 million people in the United States suffer from a sleeping problem.
If you’re included in this figure, you need a natural sleep aid. One that works with your body to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Melatonin is currently one of the most popular natural sleep aids on the market. It is a hormone produced by your body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. At night, melatonin levels rise to tell your body it’s time to sleep. In the morning, melatonin levels drop helping you to feel energized for the day ahead.
When you’re struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep your melatonin levels may be to blame, which is where natural melatonin supplements come in.
But how do you know when to take melatonin for the best sleep?
Timing is Everything
As with most health supplements, melatonin needs to be taken at a specific time to be most effective. In general, melatonin works best when taken between 30 to 90 minutes before sleep is desired.
Some studies indicate that melatonin is most effective about 30 minutes after it is taken. If you suffer interrupted sleep, it may be beneficial to use a time-release melatonin supplement as well. These ensure healthy melatonin levels throughout the night.
Many people use melatonin before traveling to prevent jet lag. The best way to combat jet lag is to begin supplementing with melatonin before your trip. Just follow the time schedule of your destination so you’re ready to go from the second you arrive. If you haven’t been taking melatonin prior to your trip, take it about an hour before bed the first few nights after you arrive.
Some people think it’s best to take melatonin in the morning if you have a hard time sleeping in. However, this can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and affect your mood and productivity.
You also want to avoid taking melatonin in the middle of the night. Though it may be difficult to get back to sleep when you suddenly wake up, melatonin isn’t the answer. Taking melatonin in the middle of the night can disrupt your internal body clock and your usual sleep schedule for several days.
Use the Right Dose
Now that you know when to take melatonin it’s important to know how much melatonin you need. Although dosage guidelines vary, here are some general things to keep in mind:
- The most effective dose is usually between 0.3 mg and 5 mg.
- Time release melatonin supplements may require specific amounts since they are absorbed and used differently by your body.
- If you aren’t getting the results you want, consider decreasing your dosage rather than increasing it. Studies indicate it’s often the lower doses of melatonin that are most effective because they work with your body best.
As long as your melatonin dose is less than 10 mg, you don’t have to worry about side effects. Melatonin is not a habit forming sleep aid, so you can take it every night without having to worry about developing a dependency.
Enhance Melatonin’s Benefits
For the best night’s sleep, make melatonin even more effective by following these basic guidelines:
- Start supplementing with a low melatonin dose and increase it from there if you need to (remember that sometimes a lower dose is better).
- Turn off all the lights (or at least dim them) after taking your supplement since light reduces melatonin production.
- Keep the room cool to enhance the body temperature lowering effects of melatonin
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule and establish a routine before bed.
- If you’re taking melatonin for jet lag, divide the number of time zones you crossed by two and then add one. The number you get is how many days you should take melatonin supplements to adjust to the new time zone.
You don’t need to be confused about when to take melatonin any longer. These simple tips will help you get the most out of your melatonin supplement. As a result, you will fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed the next day.