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Millions of people routinely experience difficulty falling asleep, while millions more find themselves waking up frequently throughout the night. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, we don’t need to tell you how frustrating it can be. Natural sleep aids like melatonin may help, although there’s a lot of misinformation out there about this sleep hormone. If you’re wondering how much melatonin to take, or when to take it, find the answers to your questions below.


What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is made naturally in the brain by the pineal gland. Melatonin production kicks off in the evening, beginning when the sun sets. The hormone essentially tells your body that it’s night time and almost time to hit the hay.

When melatonin production increases, we start to feel sleepy and ready for bed. But a variety of causes can change how much melatonin our bodies produce. Odd sleep patterns, irregular work schedules, excessive device usage and light exposure can all contribute to a reduction in natural melatonin production. This is one reason why so many people take supplemental melatonin for sleep.


How Much Melatonin Can I Take?

For adults, the recommended melatonin dosage is between 0.2 and 5 mg per day, taken 60 minutes before bed time. Experts recommend that those who are new to taking melatonin start at a low dose and slowly work their way up.

Many people falsely believe that taking larger doses of melatonin will translate into better sleep quality. This is simply not the case. In fact, too much melatonin can cause side effects like nausea, headaches, dizziness and more, which can contribute to sleeplessness.

Melatonin efficacy is not dose-dependent, so when it comes to choosing how much melatonin to take, more does not necessarily translate to better results.

Most melatonin supplements come in 3 to 5 mg pills, which is on the high end of the dosage recommendations. If you’re just starting out, you may wish to start with half a pill or even less.


Melatonin Isn’t Magic

While melatonin supplements may help with sleep problems for some people, they are far from a cure-all. Taking a melatonin supplement simple jump-starts your body’s natural production of the hormone. That production, however, can still be disrupted by external factors, particularly exposure to light.

So, for best results you should take a small dose of melatonin about 60 minutes before bed, while also avoiding artificial light. That means no late-night Netflix, no checking Facebook on your phone, and no video games. “Soft” light from dim lamps and ambient lighting is less harmful to melatonin production, but ultimately the darker it is, the better.

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