What is the right melatonin dosage for you? More is not necessarily better and some people should not be taking melatonin at all.
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in our body to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Research has found melatonin can alleviate sleep disturbance resulting from various medical conditions as well as from jet-lag and shift work. But people vary in their response to melatonin and require different dosages for the desired result.
The proper melatonin dosage varies greatly from person to person. It is generally recommended that a person begin with a small dose (around 1 mg) and work their way up to larger dose if necessary. Pills are commonly available in doses ranging from 1 mg to 3 mg.
Some studies suggest that smaller doses (for example 0.3 mg as opposed to 3 mg) are equally effective as the larger doses. Studies conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that melatonin supplements have three to ten times the amount needed to facilitate sleep.
SAFETY OF MELATONIN SLEEP AIDS
For most healthy people, low doses of melatonin cause few side effects when taken for periods up to three months. However, some people may experience unwanted effects such as headaches, nausea, grogginess, irritability, hormone fluctuations, vivid dreams or nightmares or reduced blood flow... especially at doses of 3 mg/day or more. Melatonin can also cause drowsiness and therefore should not be taken when driving or operating machinery.
Melatonin should not be used by children, teenagers, or pregnant or lactating women. People with the following conditions should also avoid using melatonin sleep aids:
- auto-immune diseases (such as Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves... )
- depression (especially if taking an MAO inhibitor)
- lymphoproliferative disorders (such as lymphoma and leukemia)
People suffering from any of these conditions should consult a physician before taking a melatonin sleep aid.
HOW TO USE MELATONIN SLEEP AIDS
For sleep disorders associated with stress, shift work or menopause, melatonin is best taken at nighttime and is most effective when taken about thirty to sixty minutes before going to sleep.
To avoid the effects of jet-lag when traveling across multiple time zones, ingestion prior to getting on the flight is recommended followed by another dosage prior to going to bed.