It's actually really important to be careful with how much melatonin you take. Too much can be bad for your health – more is not always better.
What is the ideal dosage of melatonin? Read on below to learn more!
The Ideal Dosage is 0.3mg
Let's get straight to it - for melatonin, the perfect dose is just 0.3mg or 300mcg. That's way less than what you'll typically find at your local drugstore!
This dosage will allow you to fall asleep the fastest without disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm. It is also the dose of melatonin in our Sleep Soundly supplement.
But why is this the best dosage, and why are so many people taking too much? To fully understand why most Americans are taking too much, we need to delve into the history of the hormone.
What is Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that our body naturally produces to help us feel tired at night. When our eyes detect less blue light, the pineal gland secretes melatonin, signaling that it's time to sleep.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of blue light emitting screens such as laptops, TVs, and phones in our modern world disrupts our natural melatonin production, leading to difficulties in falling asleep for many individuals in today's world.
It's worth noting that the FDA classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, so there aren't any firm rules on dosages or side effects to expect.
The MIT Patent
During the early 2000s, MIT Professor, Richard Wurtman, conducted melatonin research. One of his trials showed that the ideal dosage for aiding sleep is 0.3 milligrams or 300 micrograms. This dosage resulted in a similar amount of melatonin found in the bloodstream under normal circumstances when the body is not exposed to blue light.
In the study, dosages higher or lower than 0.3mg still helped with sleep, but were not as effective. Unlike most supplements or medications, higher doses of melatonin do not necessarily equate to higher potency as melatonin is a hormone.
We will explore the harmful effects of higher dosages in greater detail later in this article.
Since melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement, Professor Wurtman could not patent melatonin itself. Instead, he patented a dosage of less than 1 mg.
High Dosages Start Being Sold Over the Counter
Dr. Wurtman's patent of the less than 1mg dosage led to the discontinuation of lower dosages being sold over the counter. Consequently, higher dosages flooded the market, and people began to purchase them because of their effectiveness and availability.
Although low dose melatonin has since come off patent, the prevalence of high dose melatonin had already taken hold. To this day, it can be difficult to find the optimal dosage of melatonin being sold.
Unfortunately, the previous studies demonstrating the superior efficacy of lower dosages were largely forgotten, even among medical professionals.
What’s So Bad About High Dosages?
Melatonin can be an effective supplement for aiding sleep, but many individuals take doses higher than what is optimal, rendering it ineffective and causing them to dismiss it as a solution to their sleep issues. Often, they are simply not taking the right dosage.
“Many people don’t think melatonin works t all, and something that could be very useful to a lot of people isn’t [because they are taking too high of a dosage]”
Dr. Richard Wurtman
Let’s delve into why high dosages of melatonin can be problematic.
More is Not Better
Typically, a higher dose of medication or supplements leads to a stronger effect on the body - this is known as the dose-dependent response.
However, melatonin, being a hormone, behaves differently. When treating hormonal issues like abnormal thyroid levels, it's best to use the lowest effective dosage.
Dr. Wurtman's research demonstrates that lower doses of melatonin are more effective than higher dosages at helping elderly insomniacs fall asleep faster. If you take nothing else from this article, take this – melatonin 0.3mg is more effective than taking higher dosages.
High Dosages Disrupt Your Circadian Rhythm
If you take doses of melatonin typically found over the counter (more than 1mg), it can cause melatonin levels to remain high even after you wake up. As a result, you may feel tired or experience disruptions in your sleep-wake cycle, despite getting more sleep. This goes against the purpose of taking melatonin, which is to reduce fatigue and regulate your sleep schedule.
“Whatever the mechanism, it is clear that indiscriminate use of melatonin could lead to undesirable effects”
Undesired Side Effects
We previously have written about the numerous benefits of melatonin in the body – there are a lot. However, taking excessive amounts can lead to side effects beyond just disrupting your sleep cycle.
High doses of melatonin decrease your core body temperature when you sleep. If you’ve read our sleep hygiene article, you know that sleep and temperature are closely interconnected. Lowing your core body temperature is not something desirable for quality sleep.
Additionally, research suggests that high doses (3mg) may reduce semen quality in healthy men.
High doses of melatonin can also intensify potential side effects such as vivid dreams or nightmares.
May Lead to Decreased Effectiveness
Taking excessive doses of melatonin can cause it to stop working after a few days or weeks.
our cells have receptors that detect hormones and neurotransmitters. If these receptors are continually exposed to excessive amounts of melatonin, they can become desensitized or decrease in number, which makes melatonin less effective over time.
“At commercial doses, Melatonin stops working after a few days.”
Dr. Richard Wurtman
Stick to the Proper Dosage
The takeaway is that you should stick to the proper and optimal dose of melatonin – melatonin 0.3mg. This will increase your body’s melatonin to levels where it would naturally be if it were not suppressed by blue lights from phones and TV’s.
You can find this dosage on Amazon or at your local pharmacy, although you it may be difficult to find. As a shameless plug, our sleep supplement includes a perfect combination of adaptogens and melatonin with the optimal dosage of 0.3mg.