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How Much Melatonin Should I Take?

by jenny sansouci on April 6, 2017

Hello from Bali my friends. Yes, still in Bali, just got back from a week-long trip into the deep, deep multiverse…it’s ok, it’s good to travel to the infinite void once in awhile. Am I right people? Then you gotta get yourself back down to Earth and get to work!!!!

I’m almost outstaying my 30-day visa here in Bali, but I’ll be heading out just a couple days shy of that. I’ve been here 3 weeks, and I’m starting to feel like I actually live here. Which, I guess right now I kinda do. It’s funny, almost every single person I’ve met here in Bali identifies themselves as a “digital nomad,” which could mean that you can live and work from anywhere — you run an online business or have a remote job (or it could mean that you’re homeless and jobless and you come to Bali to stay very cheaply and hang out on the internet). 😉 For real though, all jokes aside, I have a lot of love for the digital nomad culture, I’m part of it, and it’s ok to poke fun of something you’re part of, right!? But truth be told I’m not an ACTUAL nomad since I have a home base in Brooklyn. I personally prefer to have a home vs. full on nomad status…for as much as I love traveling, I secretly love nesting too. More on that another time.

I have so much to say about Ubud and about Bali in general, but check out the gramdog for now if you want to see all my Bali photo snippets. 

To the point, to the point –

Last week I sent out my Friday “weekend treats” newsletter (it’s becoming very epic, just telling you, in case you’re not on the list. I’m sending out SO many resources that I don’t write about on the blog, and I have so much fun writing it. I highly recommend it…completely unbiased opinion). Get the treats.

In the newsletter, I told you guys to submit your reader Q&A to questions@healthycrush.com and I’d pick the ones I like to post on the blog.

This week’s Q&A is all about our beloved SLEEP HORMONE….that’s right, it’s melatonin. 

This Q is from Megan:

“Jenny,

I love your blog! You do seriously great work, thank you!

I’ve been taking melatonin now for 2 years at night at varying doses. Today I’m taking 7.5 mg every night and want to ease off of it completely. 

I was thinking of just decreasing 2.5 mg a week but wanted to run that by you and see if you agree or would take a different approach.”

Thanks for the Q Megan (and for the kind words). 🙂

Here’s my view on melatonin: 

First off, everyone please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and I don’t know your individual health situation, or the exact reason you want to ease off the melatonin, but what I can do is point you to information and resources that will help you make the best, most informed choice for YOU. Cool? 

Let’s get started. I really like this topic because I went through a phase when I took melatonin supplements EVERY night for a couple of years too, and now I only take it once in awhile (maybe once or twice a month?) when I absolutely can’t fall asleep or I’m traveling and my time zones are way off. Instead, I like to relax at night with a couple of things that feel a bit less intense (to me) –L-Theanine and magnesium powder. I am no longer reliant on melatonin supplements, which is nice, because while it helped me sleep, it always made me feel a bit groggy in the morning. 

First off – what is melatonin? 

Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in our bodies to help regulate sleep. It’s produced in plants and animals, too! Pretty cool. Your pineal gland naturally produces melatonin when it’s time for rest, and having adequate melatonin levels not only helps you sleep better, but it also acts as an antioxidant — it helps to fight inflammation and keep your immune system strong.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have a deficiency in melatonin, and smart supplementation can help – but before you do, remember that it can be better, cheaper and more sustainable, in some cases, to work on raising your melatonin levels naturally instead of supplementing.

Dr. Mercola outlines a very thorough plan for raising melatonin levels naturally here.

Sleeping in a completely dark room and not exposing yourself to artificial lights for a couple of hours before bedtime is the best way to really let your natural melatonin come to life and do it’s sleepy work on you. If you have artificial lights or screens (TV, phone, ipad, etc) on in the evening, or if you turn on a bright light in the middle of the night – all of this disrupts your natural melatonin levels.

Typically, a small dose of melatonin (between .25 and 3mg) is sufficient for easing into sleep without the grogginess that often comes in the morning with higher doses.

Dr. Lipman says in this post, “Use melatonin strategically. Generally, 1/2mg – 2 mg about an hour and a half before bed will do the trick. Keep in mind however, for some people, over-use of melatonin can actually disrupt sleep, so use sparingly.”

There’s a great article over on Mark’s Daily Apple — citing a study on melatonin, he says, “you probably don’t need high doses. Some studies indicate that lower doses (around 0.5 mg) are just as effective as higher doses (5 mg), and possibly more effective.”

The study mentions that the smaller doses actually best mimic the normal physiological circadian rhythm of melatonin in our bodies! 

So generally, it does look like a smaller dose is not only more effective than a larger dose, but taking more can actually be disruptive to sleep…and so many people mention the morning grogginess that comes with high doses!

Megan, to answer your question, I definitely would support your decision to decrease from 7.5mg down to a smaller dose, and use some of those natural-melatonin-raising techniques to help your body regulate its own melatonin production. Your week-by-week decrease idea should be totally fine, but a more dramatic decrease may be interesting to try too, since those studies say that smaller doses are actually more effective. You may find you sleep better and better the lower you go! Eventually, you will find your sweet spot, whether that’s taking .25mg or taking none at all. You’ll have to experiment and see. Will you report back as you decrease and let me know?! 

Hope that’s helpful! P.S. One more disclaimer just for fun…as I said before, I am not a doctor, I am simply a resource-provider and offerer of opinions based on my own personal research and my experience as a health coach. Please consult your doctor about ANY supplementation additions or changes! 

Do you take melatonin at night? How much? How often? Share your experience, it helps us all!! 🙂 

Lots of love and dreamy, sleepy vibes….

Jenny

 




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