Melatonin is the most widely known sleep aid supplement that is available over the counter.
You can find it online and in stores for affordable prices.
When you’re taking medication of any kind, especially one that impacts your sleep, you’ll want to know a few more details before you begin. What does melatonin do, and how long does it stay in your system?
Let’s cover some of the key details about melatonin that you should know about and discuss the best way to take it without aftereffects or other concerns.
What is Melatonin and How Does it Work?
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the body meant to control your circadian rhythm, which tells your system when it’s time to sleep.
In a perfect world, we’d get up with the sunrise, work and play all day, and then our pineal gland (located in the middle of the brain) would naturally secrete melatonin to signal the feeling of sleepiness.
However, our modern world is loaded with unnatural stimulation sources, throwing off our circadian rhythms and disrupting our natural sleep cycles. That’s why many people find exogenous melatonin to help us get to sleep and achieve fulfilling rest.
People with jet lag, shift workers, or just everyday people who need a sleep aid will turn to a melatonin supplement and find it effective. It has also been shown to help with mental health and headaches.
Dosage and Absorption
The proper dose of melatonin is anywhere between one and ten milligrams, and it’s absorbed very quickly into the body – typically in less than an hour.
Therefore, the best way to take melatonin is about an hour before your head hits the pillow. When you take it, you will soon feel drowsy and shouldn’t be out and about doing activities that require any real effort or concentration.
Taking too much melatonin can have the opposite of the intended effect, further disrupting your circadian rhythm and causing sleepiness during the day. There are other ways to avoid melatonin aftereffects that we’ll address soon.
Half Life and Elimination
Melatonin has a half-life of 40 to 60 minutes, meaning half the drug is out of your system in less than an hour in most cases. Since most drugs take about five half-lives to be eliminated, it takes around five hours on average for melatonin to be gone from your system entirely.
Like other drugs, melatonin’s effects are most potent and noticeable when the compound is first administered. However, as melatonin is metabolized, you might notice a few aftereffects when waking up in the morning and going about your day.
Here are a few aftereffects you’ll want to watch out for when adding melatonin to your routine:
- Reduced Alertness
- Reduced Endurance
- Low Blood Pressure
- Poor Cognition and Memory
These things happen, and they aren’t usually anything to worry about. Still, if they persist and start impacting your life negatively, it might be time to switch up your supplementation strategy or take a new approach to sleep in general.
Avoiding Melatonin After Effects
If you think melatonin is the missing link in your sleep routine but you’re concerned about the possibility of aftereffects, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Read on to make sure you’re in an excellent physical and mental state to take melatonin and avoid some of the aftereffects we described above.
Overall Health Status
Melatonin is considered safe for any adult in good health, but it’s never a bad idea to check in with your doctor before introducing a new supplement to your stack.
If you are taking drugs for hypertension, diabetes, contraception, or immunosuppressants, melatonin might not be for you. You also may not want to take melatonin if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Go down the complete list of possible drug interactions with your doctor and make sure you check all the boxes for safe melatonin use. Age and body weight also play a factor in how your body will process melatonin, so be mindful of these metrics as well.
Moreover, everybody will react to melatonin slightly differently, and you always want to be aware of your unique reactions when taking the compound from the outset.
Diet, Exercise, and Habits
Like any compound introduced to your system, melatonin is processed by your metabolism, which can be improved by healthy habits.
A clean and balanced diet is key to keeping healthy overall function in the body and reducing the amount of time the melatonin lingers in your system.
Developing good daily habits will help ensure that by the time the sun goes down, you will have expended enough energy to feel tired in the first place.
That’s why you should dial in your health habits before trying melatonin or any other type of supplement to help with sleep. It’s often the case that other factors are standing in the way between you and a full night’s rest.
You’ll find that you won’t have as much trouble falling asleep when you lead a healthier lifestyle in general. When you decide to add melatonin to the mix, you’ll experience better outcomes and reduce aftereffects.
Your Melatonin Source Matters
When taking melatonin, you want all the positive effects of the compound with none of the downsides. This often hinges on your health status and daily habits, but the quality of your melatonin source also makes a difference in your overall experience.
Maybe you don’t love the generic melatonin tablets you found online or at the pharmacy, or it could be that your system just doesn’t respond well to melatonin in its most basic form.
Here are some ideas for raising the bar for your melatonin source and some other sleep aids that could help you get the rest you’ve been looking for.
Melatonin works best when teamed up with other high-performance compounds like chamomile extract, holy basil, and terpenes like myrcene, linalool, terpinolene, and phytol.
Only the Complete Calm System from ASYSTEM offers this unique matrix of ingredients to give you a balanced, all-natural sleep aid. This system can help ease feelings of stress and tension, elevate your mood, and improve sleep.
Just take one tasty wild berry gummy an hour before bed each night to experience true calming and anti-anxiety benefits, helping you get to sleep faster and wake up fully refreshed.
The Complete Calm System also includes gummies to take the following day, giving you a boost from Panax ginseng and several terpene compounds to accelerate your day without jitters or stress.
Melatonin-Free Sleep Aids
Suppose you just aren’t getting the results you want from melatonin. In that case, there are other quality natural sleep aids to consider, including lions’ mane extract, Rhodiola, lemon balm, and Persian saffron extract.
L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is also a powerful ingredient that gives you a sense of well-being and a restful night’s sleep. Combine these ingredients into one system for outstanding effects.
Try the melatonin-free nighttime gummies from ASYSTEM for a balanced blend of these unique compounds.
Melatonin is so popular because it works – for most people. You may get great results from melatonin, or you may need to look at a complete sleep aid system that balances out the drug with other natural supportive ingredients.
Try all your options and find the one that works best for your body and mind.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Jay Cowin, Nutrition Expert
Founder of Functional U, a Nutrition, Performance & Optimal Health practice.