Have you ever wondered what actually makes you fall asleep or wake up? The reason we’re feeling sleepy or awake isn’t something people regularly think about, but melatonin might be a portion of good food for thought. The quality and length of your sleep or the sleep-wake cycle is regulated through the circadian rhythm. But, the circadian rhythm and the whole sleep-wake cycle would be nothing without melatonin.
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that is naturally produced in the brain. As melatonin is released into your body in the evening, so are you feeling more sleepy.
However, people who experience sleep deprivation or insomnia generally lack melatonin due to hormonal imbalance and have to take supplements.
But, one cannot help but wonder one thing; after taking melatonin, how long does it release effects in the system, or how long does it last? Well, we’re here to find out exactly that. So, let’s get started right away!
Melatonin Supplements Overview
What Are Melatonin Supplements?
Taking melatonin supplements usually indicates using sleeping aid. The majority of people who take melatonin do so because they experience sleep deprivation, insomnia, sleep anxiety, jet lag, or general disruption of the sleep-wake cycle due to inadequate working hours. Regardless of the reason, melatonin intake has one thing to accomplish; to get you to fall, and stay asleep. Melatonin supplements try to compensate for the lack of naturally produced melatonin in your system and take over the role of sleep regulation.
Melatonin supplements are very potent, so they should be taken 90 minutes to half an hour before bedtime. The supplements usually come in the form of tablets and are available over-the-counter. Some melatonin supplements feature other products, like vitamins and minerals, while others feature solely melatonin.
Who Takes Melatonin?
People who experience disrupted circadian rhythm, sleep deprivation, or insomnia are the main candidates for melatonin supplements. However, people with other issues can utilize melatonin for betterment as well. Here is who can and should take melatonin supplements;
- Night shift workers
- Travelers who experience serious jet lag
- People who experience sleep anxiety, or anxiety in general
- People who suffer from extended sleep deprivation or insomnia
- People who have high blood pressure
- People suffering from dementia, etc.
NOTE: Melatonin is also known to have immuno-enhancing effects, so it is also recommended to people whose immune system is weak or needs a little boost.
Moreover, melatonin intake has shown effective in cases of psychiatric disorders, autism spectrum disorder, tumor cases, and cardiovascular issues related to hypertension.
Who Shouldn’t Take Melatonin?
Even though melatonin supplements are generally considered safe, they don’t really have the same effects with every person. Not to mention that melatonin intake does carry some adverse effects as well. So, here’s who shouldn’t take melatonin;
What Are Melatonin Side Effects?
Since we mentioned that melatonin can have side effects, we decided to also explain which ones should you look out for, especially if you’re one of the aforementioned risk groups;
- Melatonin is not safe for women trying to get pregnant, as it has a birth control effect.
- Melatonin can cause blood thinning, making blood coagulation slow and difficult; that is why it is not safe for people with bleeding disorders.
- Melatonin can trigger or worsen seizure and epilepsy symptoms.
- Melatonin may interfere with immunosuppressive therapy in transplant patients.
- Melatonin can cause digestive issues and vomiting since it activates receptors in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Melatonin can worsen the symptoms of the restless legs syndrome or RLS.
- Melatonin can cause mood changes, irritability, and frequent awakening due to nightmares and overly vivid dreams.
How Long Does Melatonin Stay In Our System?
Melatonin And Time Release
Melatonin supplements feature a variety of formulations. These formulations are created to make melatonin more targeted and in tune with your needs. For example, people who experience restless sleep won’t take the same type of melatonin supplement as the people experience insomnia or extended sleep deprivation. That is why there are;
- Immediate release melatonin supplements – these supplements provide a burst of melatonin in your system and can help initiate sleep much faster. These supplements provide a restful sleep and can stay in your system from one to a few hours, providing that the dose you take is between 0.5 and 0.75mg.
- Extended-release melatonin supplements – these supplements provide a slow melatonin release which extends over the whole night. These supplements are designed to provide a night of tight, uninterrupted sleep for people who experience sleep deprivation, frequent awakenings, and insomnia. Extended-release melatonin mimics the way our bodies naturally release melatonin, so it lasts longer, between 5 and 7 hours approximately. However, the dose for extended-release melatonin is also higher and can go up to 10mg, depending on your condition. People who suffer from chronic insomnia have to take doses higher than 10mg.
Note: We have to point out that higher doses of melatonin do NOT imply that it will last longer. How long melatonin lasts in your system depends on numerous factors, from the weight, health status, caffeine intake, whether you smoke or drink, to the sleeping disorder that you have, and the type of supplements that you take.
Extended-release melatonin is also known as controlled-release melatonin, time-release melatonin, continuous-, prolonged- and slow-release melatonin.
Melatonin And Its Life In The System
As mentioned earlier, the amount of time melatonin stays in your system depends on many things, especially whether it is slow- or fast-releasing supplements. However, we can also talk about some general assumptions and what we known about the interaction between the body and man-made melatonin.
Overall, melatonin does NOT last in the system too long. For example, when we take into consideration the time the body requires to eliminate half of the melatonin, we come to 40 to 60 minutes. That is the time the body needs in order to eliminate half of the melatonin, which means that the other half of melatonin can stay in your body for up to 5 hours approximately.
That is why it is generally recommended to take melatonin 30, 60, or 90 minutes before bedtime. Also, if you’ve taken melatonin at an inappropriate time, it is not recommended to do responsible work, operate heavy machinery, drive, etc. If you don’t take melatonin at the right time, it will stay in your organism and make you feel ‘hungover, groggy, sleepy, and drowsy’.
How Should I Dose Melatonin Supplements?
It is generally recommended people take doses between 0.5 and 5mg. Medical professionals believe that doses above 5mg don’t really contribute to any better melatonin effects, however, sleep experts tend to disagree. So, even though you can buy melatonin anywhere, it is essential you discuss this decision with your doctor, prior to taking melatonin. Your doctor will help you establish a proper dose, one that will help you the best. Nevertheless, here are some approximate dose recommendations in regards to particular conditions and events;
- Trouble falling asleep – 0.3 to 5mg daily
- Sleep deprivation – 2mg daily
- Extended sleep deprivation and insomnia – 2 to 3mg of extended-release melatonin, daily
- Insomnia combined with other conditions – 2 to 12mg daily
- Jet lag – up to 8 mg for up to 3 to 5 days
- High blood pressure – 2 to 3mg daily
- Solid tumor case – 10 to 40mg
- Anxiety prior to surgery – 3 to 10 mg
- Jaw joint and muscle pain – 5mg daily
At this point, we also have to mention that melatonin supplements are NOT strictly FDA regulated, because melatonin is considered a supplement, not a drug. Therefore, there can be issues with the proper information on the supplement bottles, or melatonin could be combined with vitamins and minerals. That is why we urge you again to consult with your doctor before you decide to take melatonin supplements.
So, to summarize; if you take fast-reacting melatonin you can expect it to stay in your system for a few hours. However, if you take controlled-release melatonin, you can expect it to last between 5 and 7 hours.
Nevertheless, this is all approximate and largely depends on you as a consumer. The amount of time melatonin will stay in your system depends on your overall health, weight, smoking, and drinking habits, and the type of sleep disturbances that you experience. Again, before you decide to take melatonin, consult with your doctor and see which dose will suit your needs the best.