Why Try a Melatonin Supplement?
Melatonin supplements are popular for sleep issues and other health concerns and are only getting more popular. Data on the use of melatonin supplements shows increased usage among U.S. adults across all demographics between 1999 and 2018. By 2020, melatonin dietary supplement sales reached $821 million. (Source 1, 2)
Sleep support is one of the primary reasons people may try a melatonin supplement, but because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it may also have other benefits. Melatonin is safer and has fewer side effects than prescription medications and sleeping pills, especially when choosing a quality product and safe dose.
“Sleep support is one of the primary reasons people may try a melatonin supplement, but because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it may also have other benefits.”
Today’s article will explore the reasons to try melatonin and how to choose the best supplement and dosage.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- What is melatonin?
- Melatonin supplements for sleep
- Reasons to try melatonin supplements beyond sleep
- Melatonin side effects
- Issues with melatonin supplements and how to choose a quality product like Core Med Science Liposomal Sleep Formula
Let’s get started!
“Melatonin is safer and has fewer side effects than prescription medications and sleeping pills, especially when choosing a quality product and safe dose.”
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced in response to darkness. It helps you feel drowsy and promotes sleep, regulating the sleep-wake cycle and the body’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels naturally increase in the evening. (Source 3)
Melatonin production occurs in the brain’s pineal gland and gut mucosa from the amino acid tryptophan. The neurotransmitter serotonin is an intermediate in melatonin production. Various foods and herbs contain natural melatonin, including cherries, grapes, and almonds. (Source 2)
Blue light from screens and full-spectrum room lighting suppresses melatonin release and the duration of melatonin circulation by about 90 minutes. For this reason, technology and the home environment can impair sleep. (Source 4)
Melatonin Supplements for Better Sleep
Melatonin is a popular sleep aid used to address various sleep disturbances, including:
- Jet lag – Traveling across time zones impairs the circadian rhythm. You can use melatonin supplements strategically to reset the internal clock. (Source 3)
- Shift work – Like jet lag, shift work pulls the body out of its natural sleep-wake cycle. Shift workers working the night shift may have difficulty getting enough sleep and have poor sleep quality because of a “darkness deficiency.” (Source 2)
- Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder – This disorder produces an irregular sleep schedule, where sufferers can't fall asleep at a regular time, instead going to bed between 2 and 6 am and waking in the middle of the day. (Source 2, 3)
- Sleep onset insomnia in children – Your child’s pediatric healthcare provider may suggest melatonin when they have difficulty falling asleep. It may be effective in children for short-term use at an appropriate dosage. (Source 6)
- Primary sleep disorders in adults - Sleep problems cause daytime drowsiness, contribute to disease, and impair quality of life. A 2013 meta-analysis looked at studies using melatonin to treat primary sleep disorders. It found melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep, increases total sleep time, and improves overall sleep quality. (Source 5)
For more on melatonin and better sleep, please read Better Sleep Benefits of Melatonin and GABA Supplements.
Melatonin Works for More than Good Sleep
Let’s consider some of the various clinical uses for melatonin supplements and optimizing levels of melatonin.
Aging and Longevity
Melatonin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It protects mitochondria from oxidative stress and is involved in gene regulation. Because of these actions, melatonin supplementation may benefit longevity and is being explored as an integrative approach to various neurodegenerative diseases and cancers. (Source 1, 2)
Fertility and Pregnancy
As melatonin is involved in the sleep-wake cycle, it also plays a role in reproductive cycles. In animals, melatonin levels inform seasonal reproduction. In humans, the ovaries, uterus, and placenta have melatonin receptors. Melatonin levels are higher in the ovarian follicular fluid than elsewhere in the body. Melatonin supplementation may be supportive for improving fertility, egg quality, sperm quality, and pregnancy outcomes. (Source 2, 7)
In pregnancy, conventional medical advice is to avoid melatonin supplements. However, current research suggests some possible benefits. For example, during pregnancy, fetal programming occurs; melatonin may help prevent high blood pressure in offspring of mothers with high blood pressure. (Source 2)
New research suggests the benefits of melatonin supplementation in autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, because of its beneficial impact on reducing inflammation and supporting a healthy microbiome. (Source 2)
Additionally, functional medicine doctors routinely recommend melatonin for acute immune support, including in cases of COVID-19. (Source 2)
Eighty percent of patients experience anxiety before and after surgery. Melatonin supplements in the hospital setting may help reduce anxiety. (Source 3)
For a full discussion of melatonin and anxiety, please read Does Melatonin Help with Anxiety?
Melatonin Side Effects
Side effects of melatonin are typically minimal and often result from taking too much melatonin or poor supplement timing.
Possible side effects include:
- Sleepiness (Source 3)
Melatonin may interact with medications, including:
- Blood thinners
- Oral contraceptives
- Epilepsy medications
- Immunosuppressive medications (Source 2, 3, 8)
Please speak with your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice regarding melatonin if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking medications, have a medical condition, or using melatonin in pediatrics. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that those with dementia avoid melatonin use. (Source 3)
Melatonin Supplements – What You Need to Know
Melatonin is a hormone, but it’s available as a supplement in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements, but prescription and over-the-counter medications have much stricter standards. In many other countries, melatonin is a prescription.
Finding a quality melatonin supplement off the shelf has its challenges. 2017 research tested 31 over-the-counter melatonin supplements. More than 71% contained an amount of melatonin that didn’t match the label claims (within a 10% margin). The variation in melatonin ranged from 83% less melatonin to 478% more than the label claimed. Additionally, 26% of the supplements contained serotonin. (Source 9)
Melatonin gummy products are also likely to contain more melatonin than the label suggests. The wide availability of these gummies may contribute to melatonin overdose in children. (Source 10)
Low doses of melatonin may be as or more effective than higher doses. I recommend starting with 0.5 mg and increasing to 5 mg as necessary, identifying the lowest effective amount that doesn’t produce drowsiness.
Using melatonin to improve your sleep pattern works best along with good sleep hygiene practices. Additionally, combining melatonin with other sleep supplements, including GABA, is supportive. Learn more about other sleep supplements here.
“Using melatonin to improve your sleep pattern works best along with good sleep hygiene practices. Additionally, combining melatonin with other sleep supplements, including GABA, is supportive.”
Liposomal Melatonin for Healthy Sleep
Core Med Science Liposomal Sleep Formula combines melatonin with GABA and glutathione for optimal sleep support. GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, which relaxes the nervous system to promote sleep. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and helpful for decreasing the effects of oxidative stress while supporting detoxification that occurs during sleep.
Our melatonin is suspended in liposomes that mimic the body’s cell membranes, allowing optimal absorption and bioavailability. The liquid formula allows for easy titration to find your best dose. Our products are high-quality, free of contaminants, and meet label claims.
“Our melatonin is suspended in liposomes that mimic the body’s cell membranes, allowing optimal absorption and bioavailability. The liquid formula allows for easy titration to find your best dose. Our products are high-quality, free of contaminants, and meet label claims.”
While the body produces melatonin, there may be periods of life where you need additional support. Melatonin supplements are an integrative health solution with few side effects, available for short-term use as required. Have some on hand for your next airplane trip or to improve sleep during a period of stress. Here’s to good sleep, less inflammation, and the longevity benefits of melatonin!
- Li, J., Somers, V. K., Xu, H., Lopez-Jimenez, F., & Covassin, N. (2022). Trends in Use of Melatonin Supplements Among US Adults, 1999-2018. JAMA, 327(5), 483–485. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8808329/
- Minich, D. M., Henning, M., Darley, C., Fahoum, M., Schuler, C. B., & Frame, J. (2022). Is Melatonin the "Next Vitamin D"?: A Review of Emerging Science, Clinical Uses, Safety, and Dietary Supplements. Nutrients, 14(19), 3934. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9571539/
- NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Melatonin: What You Need to Know. Accessed 10/2/23 at https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
- Gooley, J. J., Chamberlain, K., Smith, K. A., Khalsa, S. B., Rajaratnam, S. M., Van Reen, E., Zeitzer, J. M., Czeisler, C. A., & Lockley, S. W. (2011). Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 96(3), E463–E472. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/
- Ferracioli-Oda, E., Qawasmi, A., & Bloch, M. H. (2013). Meta-analysis: melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders. PloS one, 8(5), e63773. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656905/
- Wei, S., Smits, M. G., Tang, X., Kuang, L., Meng, H., Ni, S., Xiao, M., & Zhou, X. (2020). Efficacy and safety of melatonin for sleep onset insomnia in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sleep medicine, 68, 1–8. Full text: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31982807/
- Olcese J. M. (2020). Melatonin and Female Reproduction: An Expanding Universe. Frontiers in endocrinology, 11, 85. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067698/
- Hilli, J., Korhonen, T., Turpeinen, M., Hokkanen, J., Mattila, S., & Laine, K. (2008). The effect of oral contraceptives on the pharmacokinetics of melatonin in healthy subjects with CYP1A2 g.-163C>A polymorphism. Journal of clinical pharmacology, 48(8), 986–994. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18490497/
- Erland, L. A., & Saxena, P. K. (2017). Melatonin Natural Health Products and Supplements: Presence of Serotonin and Significant Variability of Melatonin Content. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 13(2), 275–281. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5263083/
- Cohen, P. A., Avula, B., Wang, Y. H., Katragunta, K., & Khan, I. (2023). Quantity of Melatonin and CBD in Melatonin Gummies Sold in the US. JAMA, 329(16), 1401–1402. Full text: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2804077