After you take your melatonin supplement, how does your body use the melatonin in your system? How is it absorbed- and for how long?
And does it affect how much melatonin you should actually take?
Overview: How your body produces melatonin
Melatonin production is triggered by the absence of light exposure, which signals your brain's pineal gland to begin synthesizing this hormone.
Once melatonin is synthesized, it’s not stored in your cells; instead it’s rapidly circulated into your bloodstream so it can reach distant organs and parts of your body. This onsets your sleep cycle, signaling your body to transition into sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone, and it's processed- like all hormones in your body- through your endocrine system.
The endocrine system consists of glands that produce hormones to regulate essential processes in your body, such as growth, your metabolism, sexual development- and sleep. Many of these glands are controlled by the pituitary gland, which signals to other glands when to start and stop producing hormones.
When hormones are released, they target specific organ’s cells; these cells have receptors to which the hormones bind to. The receptors allows organs to “read” the hormone’s signals and carry out its instructions.
Hormones are eventually degraded or removed by your body. Most are broken down by your liver and are harmlessly excreted by your kidneys, or are broken down by the organs themselves.
How long does melatonin stay in your body?
Hormones have a duration that’s measured by their half-life, which is how long it takes for a certain amount of a hormone to be reduced in half.
This half-life determines how long the hormone remains in the body. Different hormones have different half-life lengths, much of which is dependent on how complex their structures are, or how soluble they are.
The half-life of melatonin is about 20 to 50 minutes. Melatonin levels tend to peak around 1 hour or longer, which is when it reaches its maximum concentration in the body. These levels return to normal after about 4-8 hours.
After that, melatonin is excreted harmlessly through your urine.
How much melatonin should I take?
How long melatonin stays in your body can be dependent on a number of factors. Your age can affect this; older people tend to naturally produce less melatonin. Certain medications could also interact with melatonin and affect how long it stays in your system.
The average recommended dose for healthy adults is anywhere between 0.5mg to 10mg. The dose should be adjusted for children, elderly people, and people who have health conditions that might affect their sensitivity to melatonin.
It’s important to note that different people have unique sensitivities to melatonin, and will thus require different doses. Start with the smallest dose before adjusting to a higher dosage.
Please consult your physician before taking melatonin supplements to ensure that you use them responsibly.
Will melatonin work better if I take more?
It would makes sense that taking more of something would make it work better- perhaps faster, or last longer.
In the case of melatonin, the more melatonin you take does marginally increase how long it takes for the hormone to be degraded.
But there's other ways to make melatonin work more efficiently.
Slow-release melatonin are types of supplements that slowly release melatonin over a longer period of time. These types of supplements typically last longer in the body, and can be useful for people who want to stay asleep or avoid waking up in the middle of the night.
Other kinds of melatonin like nasally administered melatonin work faster, onsetting your sleep cycle more rapidly than oral melatonin.
Are there side effects from taking more melatonin?
Side effects of using melatonin is rare, but there's still cases of people who experience mild side effects from taking too much melatonin. Use melatonin supplements responsibly to avoid unwanted side effects, which might include:
- Dizziness or grogginess
- Feeling tired in the morning
- Elevations or drops in blood pressure
- Agitation or mood swings
For this reason we recommend starting at the smallest dose possible for that reason. Nasal melatonin supplements like Ascent Sleep start at smaller doses, beginning at 0.2mg.