We all need and want a good night’s sleep. Sleep is critical for good health, overall well-being, and enhanced mental focus throughout the day, and as such, it is not surprising that people will look for ways to improve their sleeping patterns and routines. Sadly, this can be quite difficult to achieve due to several factors such as stressful work schedules and screen times that can extend late into the night. As such, it may be beneficial for people to take supplements that can help them in achieving better sleep and relaxation overall. One such supplement is melatonin. But how long does it take for melatonin to work? What are the other considerations before taking melatonin? Read on to find out more!
Melatonin: A General Overview
Melatonin is a form of a hormone that functions to manage the body’s circadian rhythm. Our bodies produce melatonin once exposed to the dark. It is also the main reason why people feel sleepy and calm right before going to sleep.
In the US, melatonin can be purchased without any need for a prescription, and it is primarily marketed as a sleeping aid. Most people can find these sleep aids in pharmacies and drug stores. Normally, melatonin will stay within the body for around five (5) hours.
Some may need extra melatonin to help in the regulation of their circadian rhythm. Melatonin is mostly utilized by children with autism, dementia, those who take specialized forms of medicines, working on shifting schedules, and those jet-lagged travelers.
Melatonin, however, is not just for improved sleep as it has also been used to address other specific medical conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and migraine. But how does this sleep supplement work?
Melatonin Effects: How Long Does It Take For Melatonin To Work?
The pineal gland is responsible for the production of melatonin, and this gland is located in the brain’s middle region. The said gland is managed by what is known as the SCN or suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is a cluster of nerve cells or neurons found in the hypothalamus. The said neurons manage and control the body’s internal biological clock through the signal transmission to one another. During the daytime, the eye’s retina will absorb the surrounding light and send a message to these neurons. The SCN will then prompt the pineal gland to cease the production of melatonin. This signal is the main reason people can stay awake.
Once night time comes, the opposite process occurs. Once people are exposed to a dark setting or environment, the SCN has the pineal gland activated, which in turn starts the production of melatonin. As the increase in melatonin occurs, your blood pressure and core temperature will drop. The melatonin can then send signals back to the SCN to reduce neuronal firing, and further prepare you for sleep.
Melatonin is quickly absorbed by our bodies. It was observed, that melatonin taken as a form of an oral supplement, can take one (1) hour before reaching its peak levels. That will be the time when individuals can feel sleepy. However, similar to most drugs, melatonin can affect people differently and the time it can take for people to feel the effects can be different from one another.
Different Kinds of Melatonin: What Are They For?
Regular melatonin tablets are supplements meant for immediate release. They get dissolved as soon as they are taken.
The second type of melatonin is referred to as extended-release and is more slowly dissolved by the body. Over time, the melatonin is released, which attempts to mimic the body’s melatonin production at night. This form is more preferable if the patient wants to stay asleep longer at night. Extended-release melatonin is also sometimes called controlled-release melatonin, prolonged-release melatonin, time-release melatonin, continuous-release melatonin, and slow-release melatonin.
It is always best to speak to a healthcare professional to find out which kind of melatonin is best for you and your specific needs or condition.
Proper Dosage for Melatonin
Generally speaking, the ideal dose for melatonin is between 1 mg to 5 mg. It is also advised that individuals begin using melatonin supplements at the lowest possible dose. The intake can eventually be slowly increased to help determine which dosage works best for the patient without any accompanying negative effects. This is because taking large dosages of melatonin can have adverse effects. One such effect is overdosing on melatonin leading to sleepiness in the day time and disruption of the circadian rhythm.
It is also important to consider that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate strictly melatonin supplements. This is because these supplements are not classified as drugs per se. As such, melatonin can be sold as a form of dietary supplement similar to minerals, vitamins, and amino acids which are also not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
As such, individuals are reminded to follow the dosing instructions printed on the label of the product and if unsure about which dosage to follow, it is also recommended that individuals discuss their options with their healthcare provider or doctor.
When Should Melatonin Is taken?
So how long does it take for melatonin to work? As a general rule, it is best to take melatonin 30 minutes to an hour before going to sleep. This is because the said supplement will begin to take effect 30 minutes after taking it. However, it must be noted that different individuals may have to take melatonin at different times as each one can absorb medications at rates that vary per person. It is best to adjust the timing of melatonin intake depending on your sleeping pattern or how long it takes before falling asleep.