At some point or another, it happens to everyone. Maybe your internal clock is out of synch because you’ve changed time zones. Maybe you work erratic hours and just can’t break your night-owl tendencies. Or maybe you’re getting older, and find that you just can’t get the sleep you need.
Whatever the reason, people suffering from an inability to get a good night’s sleep are increasingly turning to Melatonin for help. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the center of your brain. At night, or in the dark, your pineal gland releases this hormone to help regulate your sleep cycle.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be that your body doesn’t produce enough Melatonin naturally, or that you have disrupted your natural sleep schedule to the point that you require more of this hormone to trigger a healthy sleep pattern. Studies have shown that taking a melatonin supplement half an hour before bed is effective as a sleep aid and can alleviate jet lag.
Is Melatonin For You?
Unlike synthetic sleeping pills, Melatonin does not introduce unnatural chemicals into your bloodstream. Nor does it require a prescription. While pregnant women and people with health conditions would be advised to consult a physician before taking Melatonin, evidence suggests it’s extremely safe. Researchers have given people up to 600-3,000 times the normal dosage without causing any toxicity. And in spite of millions of people using it, only four complaints have been lodged with the FDA reporting negative side effects such as nightmares, headaches, and morning grogginess.
When Melatonin works, it’s nothing short of miraculous. Within a half-hour of taking the supplement, your eyelids may begin to literally droop. It will put you into a deep sleep during which you may experience vivid dreams. You’ll wake up with the sun, completely refreshed and ready to start the day. Some people report that they wake up naturally minutes before their alarm clock goes off. It also boosts daytime alertness and prevents you from feeling sleepy again until bedtime.
But when you take the wrong dosage of Melatonin, waking up can be difficult, and you may feel groggy all day. And because there is no officially recommended dosage, it’s an easy thing to get wrong.
How Much Should You Take?
The answer may depend on your age.
Researchers believe that the level of natural melatonin your body produces diminishes with age, which may help explain why children fall asleep so easily while the aged have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people over 65 may require 3mg-6mg a night, whereas younger people may do better with a smaller dose. Some studies have even suggested that as little as 300 micrograms are ideal for younger users, but it’s difficult to find melatonin sold over the counter in that amount.
The most commonly sold dosage is a 3mg pill. With a pill cutter, you can divide that into fourth’s for .75mg dose, but even that may be too high a dosage for some people. Some manufacturers, like LifeExtension, are now offering melatonin in smaller capsules to help close the gap.
In the meantime, you may need to experiment a little. Try a week at a given dosage, and if it makes you drowsy, keep cutting back. When you find the right dosage, you’ll know it, because you’ll not only sleep like a baby but wake up like a lion.