Q&A: What Else Besides Melatonin Can Help Me Get to Sleep?

08/22/2014 | 1 min. read

Dr. Richard Wurtman

Dr. Richard Wurtman

Q&A: What Else Besides Melatonin Can Help Me Get to Sleep?

I’ve tried melatonin to help me get to sleep. It helped for a while, but then stopped. Do you have any other recommendations to help me go to sleep?

Before you give up on melatonin, be sure that you’re taking the right dose. Often people who think melatonin doesn’t work for them are simply taking too much of it.

Here’s why. In the brain, melatonin interacts with specific receptors. Research has shown that these receptors are highly sensitive to the amount of melatonin they’re exposed to. Bombard them with too much melatonin for a long enough period of time, and the receptors become so desensitized that they don’t respond to it at all. At that point, no amount of melatonin will help you get to sleep.

This is a problem because most melatonin products are available only in doses ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg, far above the optimal 0.3 mg dose. For a few nights, this higher dose works fine. But as receptor desensitization occurs, problems sleeping return—sometimes worse than before.

This could be why you had good results using melatonin for a while, then they began to tail off. I highly encourage you to try it again at a lower dose and see what happens.

Learn more about the most effective way to switch to lower doses of melatonin to help you get to sleep.

More Dr. Wurtman Advice on Sleep

Dr. Richard Wurtman

Meet Dr. Richard Wurtman

Richard Wurtman, M.D. is a noted Harvard doctor and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researcher specializing in sleep and cognitive sciences. He is widely recognized for his groundbreaking research on melatonin over the past 40 years. He has done research for the NIH and with NASA, and is the author and editor of 18 books, holder of more than 50 patents, and author or co-author of over 1,000 scientific papers.

More About Dr. Richard Wurtman