The Importance of Taking the Right Dose of Melatonin

12/01/2016 | 4 min. read

Dr. Richard Wurtman

Dr. Richard Wurtman

The Importance of Taking the Right Dose of Melatonin

Years of research have confirmed that melatonin is a hormone that plays a significant role in the body’s natural sleep cycle. But, many people who have tried supplemental melatonin to promote better sleep have been disappointed with results.

The biggest reason for this is that most melatonin supplements you’ll find on store shelves are in doses that are far too high! In fact, the common melatonin supplement doses of 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg doses and higher will actually compound your sleep problems rather than alleviate them.

Melatonin Mega-dosing Does More Harm than Good for Your Sleep

In our “supersize me” society, it’s easy to see why melatonin supplement manufacturers figured “more is better” when deciding on product dosing. But they were dead wrong.

Throws Off Your Circadian Rhythm

Taking too much melatonin is not toxic, but it does have side effects. One is that melatonin mega-dosing can cause blood levels of the hormone to remain elevated into daylight hours, which confuses your body’s natural circadian rhythm and can lead to grogginess and a general “hung over” feeling. These are exactly the symptoms of poor sleep that people try to overcome by taking melatonin…but over-the-top dosing just makes them worse!

And throwing off your circadian rhythm with too much melatonin is no small matter. The sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue that result can lead to numerous other health problems, including weight gain, diminished memory and motor skills, a compromised immune system, increased anxiety and irritability, depression and more.

Desensitizes Your Brain Receptors

The most basic problem with taking mega doses of melatonin, however, is that it desensitizes your brain receptors to the hormone and eventually shuts down your body’s ability to use melatonin for better sleep or anything else.

Specifically, your brain uses special receptor proteins to interact with melatonin. And if these proteins are constantly bombarded with excess amounts of the hormone, they become overwhelmed. Eventually, your brain receptors get desensitized to melatonin and become progressively less responsive until they stop working altogether.

Restore Your Melatonin to the Prime Levels of Your Youth

So what IS the right dose of melatonin to take for healthy sleep? Just enough to restore your natural levels to what they were in your youthful melatonin production prime.

In young healthy people, normal daytime blood levels of melatonin are around 10 pg/mL, and rise 15-fold to about 150 pg/mL at night. This nocturnal flood of melatonin into your system signals your body and brain that it’s time to wind down. In response, your body becomes drowsy and falls asleep. Then sustained levels of melatonin throughout the night help ensure you get a deep, restful sleep. When melatonin levels taper off toward daylight, it signals your body to wake up.

Natural Melatonin Production Declines Precipitously with Age

Unfortunately, studies indicate that around age 50, people produce 50% less melatonin than they did in their peak production ages of 8-10. And by age 70, melatonin production has dropped by a staggering 75%!

This helps explain why so many people in their mid-fifties and beyond struggle to get a good night’s rest. Often, they have enough melatonin in their bloodstream to get to sleep, but their pineal gland can only increase melatonin levels to about 30 or 40 pg/mL during the night—a far cry from the 150 pg/mL of their youth.

Very small divided doses of melatonin work best

After extensive study, my research team at MIT found that the very best sleep results for people over age 50 came with melatonin doses of just 1 mg or less each evening! That’s a far smaller dose than you’ll find with most melatonin supplements.

But, because your body quickly metabolizes melatonin, it’s best to take the 1 mg in divided doses, with an initial 0.3 mg dose to fall asleep quickly and then a second 0.6 mg dose about four hours later to keep you asleep for the rest of the night.

Ingenious nutritional scientists engineered a unique capsule-within-a-capsule delivery system to make this divided dosing simple. The outer capsule has a fast-dissolving shell that releases 0.3 mg of liquid melatonin to help you fall asleep easily and stay asleep for about 4 hours. Then the inner capsule releases 0.6 mg of melatonin in slow-dissolving microbeads to help keep you in a sound sleep for the rest of the night.

The Right Nighttime Doses of Melatonin Can Deliver Big Sleep Benefits

You really can get the best sleep of your life, regardless of your age…by restoring your melatonin levels with the right nighttime doses.

Research shows that taking just under 1mg of melatonin in divided doses each evening can help you:

  • Fall asleep fast—up to 20 minutes quicker than without melatonin
  • Improve your sleep efficiency (the time you actually spend sleeping when you’re in bed) up to 88%
  • Cut nighttime restlessness (that endless tossing and turning) in half
  • Reduce nighttime waking by up to 65%
  • Wake up feeling refreshed not groggy

Taken the right way, supplemental melatonin is safe, non-addictive and keeps working night after night. In fact, you should take it every night, which is something no one would recommend for sleeping pills or even herbal sleeping aids. I truly believe melatonin is your best answer for getting the big sleep benefits you’ve been searching for.

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.

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