Melatonin Dosage and Levels in Your Blood
Most commercial melatonin based sleep products contain dosages that cause melatonin levels in your body to rise above naturally produced levels – in effect, they amplify the production of melatonin, so the dosage you take is not a good guide for the amount you will have in your blood after taking the supplement. A typical dose in a melatonin pill contains 3mg of melatonin which can raise your natural melatonin levels up to twenty times, but there have never been any reported cases of toxicity or overdose.
The data in the table below has been extracted from the Mayo Clinic advice on this subject. In general, advice on Melatonin dosage varies widely, even between medical professional. As stated many times on this site, melatonin is ot a regulated substance and so generally considered safe – no toxicity or addiction has ever been recorded.
Here are generally recommended dosages for various conditions:
|Insomnia||50+||0.5 – 10||2 hours before bed for a few months – no definite safe period.|
|Jet Lag||18+||0.5 – 8||On travel day at bed time at destination and then daily for a few days until adjusted.|
|Menopause||18+||1 – 3||2 hours before bed for 3 – 6 months|
|REM Sleep Disorder||18+||3 – 9||Daily for a few weeks|
|Restless Leg Syndrome||18+||3mg||2 hours before sleep|
|General Sleep Problems||18+||0.5 – 10||2 hours before sleep (start on 1mg max)|
|Poor sleep due to depression||18+||0.1 – 9||For four weeks. This is NOT a substitute for therapy!|
|Poor sleep due to smoking||18+||0.3 – 3mg||Stop smoking three hours before and take pill 2 hours before sleep time.|
|Insomnia||Under 18||0.5 – 5||Nightly for maximum 2 months. Always discuss with doctor. Insufficient study data.|
The recommended Melatonin Dosage for adults ranges all the way from 0.1 mg 20.0 mg and even more – I have taken the conservative, safe approach in presenting this table! There isn’t really a strict standard for how much people should take because it’s not marketed as a drug. It all depends on how much of the substance your pineal gland is producing naturally, and how much your body needs.
So is there such a thing as too much melatonin? Yes, absolutely, because you can poison yourself with anything if you take too much of it – so even with a perfectly natural supplement you must exercise some caution.
A Reminder – What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced in a part of your brain known as the pineal gland which is located in your brain. Have you ever found yourself wondering how your brain keeps track of the fact that you’re supposed to be awake when it’s light outside and asleep when it’s dark? This is the hormone that it uses to achieve that.
Your eyes react to the amount of light coming in at any given time, and the pineal gland reacts to darkness, or low light levels by producing melatonin. The result is that its levels begin to rise as evening comes on, peak during the night, and then dip as morning approaches. If you need a fast FAQ on melatonin – click here.
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What kinds of conditions can Melatonin be used to treat?
Melatonin is mainly recommended in situations where someone’s body seems to be struggling to regulate its own sleep cycles. One of the big situations where this comes up is with shift workers; because they have to change their waking and sleeping schedule much more frequently than is natural, their work performance and quality of life can suffer.
People who have insomnia, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or other disorders related to being able to sleep well or at appropriate times definitely benefit from melatonin. Frequent travelers also keep a melatonin dose or two on hand to help them adapt to a new time zone a little more quickly than their body would be able to manage on its own.
How should melatonin supplements be taken?
For insomnia and other minor issues, people typically find that they get groggy within about half an hour after taking a pill, and this helps them get to sleep. When it comes to more serious health problems where there is an actual diagnosis of something like Seasonal Affective Disorder, the best way to come up with the right schedule is to work with a doctor.
There are studies that indicate that patients with this type of disorder often have a daily physical and hormonal cycle that is a little bit out of sync with when they sleep. The problem is that for some patients it’s a little too long, and for others it’s a little too short.
For example, in something like Seasonal Affective Disorder, one person might get the best relief by taking their Melatonin Dosage in the morning while another would be better off taking it later in the day. Because it isn’t easy for an individual to figure out which group they’re in, the best resource on what to try is the treating physician for the disorder.
So, is Melatonin safe?
It seems to be extremely safe. It’s sold in many stores and is used by a huge number of people for sleep issues and there have been virtually no reports of serious adverse reactions. It does tend to make people groggy, which means it’s important not to take it at a time when you need to be alert.
It’s also a good idea to stick with the lowest dose you can get your hands on, or the lowest dose your doctor has recommended, before trying to make any upward adjustments. Some people even start out by buying 1 mg pills and cutting them in half to make the Melatonin Dosage even smaller. It can cause vivid dreams, and some people find that too much melatonin gives them nightmares.
Can I improve my melatonin levels naturally?
It’s possible. You can avoid bright light in the evening to make it easier for your body to recognize that night is coming. It’s particularly important to avoid computer and tablet screens, because these emit a lot of blue light and researchers believe that that’s the most potent wavelength for this purpose.
Managing your levels completely naturally might be possible, but it would probably require a lifestyle that’s more disciplined than most people could manage. People tend to want to go home after work and do things like watch television and play online games, and this will expose you to a lot of light.
You should definitely do your best to try to limit it later in the evening, though, so that you can keep your use of melatonin as a temporary measure and try to avoid turning it into something you need constantly.
Melatonin is used in a variety of sleep supplements, and because it is not sold as a drug, the guidelines for the maximum Melatonin Dosage are quite relaxed, ranging from 0.2mg to 20mg. Most commercial formulations are based on around 3mg. If you want to see what Melatonin Dosage is recommended for children then you may read this article
However, you should always consult a qualified medical practitioner before giving your children any supplement. I am not a medical practitioner – I simply use melatonin myself (about 4mg per day), and I’m comfortable with this as being the correct Melatonin Dosage for me. I will soon be writing an article about melatonin for pets!