The circadian clock is an internal clock that every one of us has it. This master clock having control over the 24-hour cycle participates in the regulation of fundamental functions in our body, such as the sleep-wake cycle. When our circadian rhythm, better known as natural biological rhythm is disturbed, its function to continually and carefully regulate the biological responses in our body is also disturbed, and sleep disorders may appear.
And then naturally comes the question: What`s the relationship between melatonin and circadian clock?
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone within our bodies. Its production largely depends on the amount of light we are exposed to or better said it is produced when our exposure to light is reduced. The darker the day gets, the more melatonin is produced in our body, and consequently the sleepier we get. When exposed to darkness melatonin signals our brain that is time for sleep, this period is also known as biological night.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin is secreted in our body by the pineal gland placed behind the third ventricle in our brain. The circadian clock stimulates this pea-sized mass of tissue called the pineal gland to secret melatonin.
Accordingly, our body gets the message that it`s night time, we relax and thus become sleepy. A melatonin supplement can also be used if we want to reach this “winding down” state that happens when our body naturally produces melatonin.
Are Melatonin Supplements Safe?
A Michigan Medicine Expert Leslie Swanson said: “If taken at the appropriate time and dosage, melatonin is great for jet lag and helping night owls to fall asleep earlier.”
Unlike prescription medications, alternative sleep aids like melatonin, when used for the short term, are less likely to develop side effects. However, some people may still experience:
- Depression, anxiety, and irritation
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
- Changes in blood pressure
- Increased risk of seizures
- Stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and loss of appetite
- Joint or back pain
- Daytime weakness, drowsiness, dizziness or confusion
How Much Melatonin Should You Take?
Melatonin does induce sleep, but how much should we take to regulate our sleep-wake cycles? Even though you don`t need a prescription for melatonin in The United States and a few other countries, it is always recommended to first talk to your doctor before taking melatonin. You should always start with the lowest possible dose of melatonin that gives you results. The recommended dose for healthy adults is 0.3 to 5 mg of melatonin. For best results take this supplement within 60 to 90 minutes of planning to fall asleep.
Melatonin Dose Chart for Adults
The optimal dosage depends on the reasons why you take a melatonin supplement in the first place. If you take melatonin supplement for Insomnia, it is recommendable to take 2 to 3mg of melatonin supplement, 60 to 90 minutes before going to bed, for up to 29 weeks.
On the other hand, if you take melatonin for Jet Lag, you should take 0.5 to 8mg, 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime on the day of the arrival, and continue taking it for 2 to 5 days. The recommended dose for sleep-wake cycle disturbances is 2-12mg, around 60-90 minutes before bed, for up to 4 weeks.
Can You Overdose?
For short term use melatonin is considered to be a safe supplement with a low risk of overdose. However, if you do suspect an overdose, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 or the EMS.
How Long Does It Take for Melatonin To Work?
Once you take your dose of melatonin supplement, it takes around 30 minutes for you to get sleepy. Your body receives signals that it is biological night and time for sleep.
How Long Does Melatonin Last?
You can expect melatonin to stay in your body for five hours. At this time you can get your recommended hours of sleep based on your age group. Melatonin supplements imitate the natural production of the hormone melatonin, and even though this supplement has many benefits as a natural sleep aid, you still need to consult your doctor before taking a melatonin supplement. Feel free to share with us your experience with this supplement.