Melatonin is a common nootropic supplement for sleep. Most users turn to melatonin when they have trouble falling asleep, are suffering from symptoms of jet lag, or have some degree of insomnia.
We all know how important sleep to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whether we have enough or not can affect so many aspects of your day to day life. From mood to concentration levels and focus, sleep deprivation can really mess you up.
In this ultimate hacker's guide we're going to take an in depth look at melatonin and how it can help you get your sleep back on track.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the sleep portion of your circadian rhythm. When you under produce the hormone, you can experience poor sleep quality, the inability to fall asleep, and many other negative side effects.
Melatonin can be referred to many different names including N-Acetyl-5-Methoxytryptamine, Melatonine, Melovine, Melatol, Melatonex and Circadin.
It's considered a stress relief compound and works well with many other nootropics resulting in several different positive effects.
Most people use melatonin for sleep regulation. In this case the recommended daily dose is anywhere between 500 mcg and 5 mg.
We always suggest starting with the lowest possible dose before increasing, as you never know how it will affect your body. Regardless of the dose, it's important to know that the results of melatonin are not dose related. Meaning you will not fall asleep faster simply by taking more melatonin.
When to Take Melatonin
The best time to take melatonin is before bed, as it causes drowsiness. You wouldn't want to take this nootropic during the day, unless you wanted to disrupt your daytime energy levels.
For the best results, you'll want to take melatonin at least 30minutes before bed.
How Long Does Melatonin Take to Work?
Though we suggest taking melatonin 30 minutes prior to bedtime, we have noticed that some users find it takes a bit longer for the effects to kick in. In fact, some people don't start feeling drowsy for 45 minutes to two hours. It really depends on your current level of sleep quality and how strongly you are affected by symptoms of sleep disorders, like insomnia. So test it yourself and adapt it to suit you.
How Long Does Melatonin Last?
There are two common forms of melatonin; time-released and sublingual long acting melatonin.
Time-released melatonin tablets tend to last anywhere between 3-4 hours. These are best used to help you fall asleep. If you find that you are waking up throughout the night, you can take more than one dose.
If, however, you need something longer lasting you will probably prefer sublingual melatonin. This form of melatonin can be quite potent and many users experience a sort of sleep hangover, because the effects last into the waking hours. This may make you have a harder time waking up and leave you feeling groggy.
The Science Behind Melatonin
What is Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by nerve cells and released into circulation by the pineal gland in your brain. Most commonly known for regulating sleep for those suffering from irregular sleep patterns or disorders like insomnia.
Poor sleep patterns can impact many areas of your life. From premature ageing and other health issues. Sleep deprivation can have serious effects.
For those suffering from sleep irregularities, melatonin is a great nootropic option for helping your regain control of your sleep patterns.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Ideally your body should prepare for sleep based on the light cycle of your environment. As daytime comes to an end and it begins to darken, you should begin producing melatonin naturally. Unfortunately, this cycle can be disrupted by exposure to bright light and that's where melatonin supplements come in.
The supplement increases the level of melatonin in your body and effectively signals your body that it's time for sleep.
The whole process begins by converting the amino acid L-tryptophan into 5-HTP. 5-HTP is then converted into serotonin, which is the precursor to melatonin. The increase in melatonin levels induces sleepiness and improved quality of sleep over time.
How is Melatonin Metabolized?
Melatonin is metabolized via aromatase.
Aromatase is an adrenal enzyme, but it's important to note that it can be affect by inhibitors such as smoking tobacco. Aromatase inhibitors reduce the circulation of melatonin and therefore affect its metabolism and ability to work properly.
Is Melatonin Safe to Use?
Most health professionals would consider melatonin safe to use in most adults. Some people may experience negative side effects though. These side effects include headaches, short term feelings of depression, sleepiness throughout the day, cramps, dizziness and an irritable mood.
Melatonin is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also also been found to affect your ovulation and make becoming pregnant more difficult.
Some other areas of sensitivity would include anyone on blood pressure medication, individuals suffering from seizure disorders or bleeding disorders, transplant recipients and those currently suffering from depression.
Who Uses Melatonin?
Many people choose to use the nootropic melatonin to improve their quality of sleep, but it is especially popular among those who do shift work or experience jet lag from traveling. In both these cases, melatonin can help you get your sleep pattern back on track with minimal effort.
For more serious sleep related disorders like insomnia and rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, it is also commonly used.
Clinical Studies on Melatonin
There has been an extraordinary amount of clinical research conducted on the use of melatonin. In particular, you can find many studies on its effect on insomnia for people of all ages.
In one study done on children suffering from insomnia it was found that melatonin decreased the symptoms of insomnia with no negative side effects (1).
Another study found that taking 2mg of melatonin could help insomniacs fall asleep faster and improve their actual quality of sleep without experiencing any withdrawal effects (2).
When it comes to jet lag, melatonin is quite effective. Nine out of 10 studies found that taking melatonin dramatically improved the negative side effects associated to jet lag (3).
All in all, it would appear that science backs up the use of melatonin in healthy adults suffering from some level of sleep disorder or deprivation.
Where to Buy Melatonin
Melatonin is one of the easiest nootropics to get your hands on. You can find it in your local pharmacy and supermarket, but often times the quality is not great.
The price of melatonin can range anywhere between $30 a bottle to $30 depending on quality, quantity and type. Sublingual melatonin will be slightly more expensive, but worth it if you really need help falling asleep. You can get Melotinin here.
Common Stacks Used with Melatonin
When it comes to improving your sleep, there are several melatonin stacks you can try out. Here are a few of our favourites:
L-tryptophan is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin which is essential to melatonin creation. By adding in GABA (a stress-relieving, anxiolytic) and melatonin you will enjoy an amazing sleep without the groggy hangover.
Here's how to take it:
- 500 mg L-Tryptophan
- 750 mg GABA
- 5 mg Melatonin
Take this stack 30 minutes prior to sleeping. Most individuals should feel its effects within 30mins to 1 hour.
ZMA + Melatonin Stack
ZMA stands for Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate. It also contains Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin B6 and is commonly used by athletes for muscle recovery, but is great for improving sleep as well. It is a synthetic nootropic, and when combined with melatonin, it will give you a truly deep sleep.
Here's how you take it:
- 1 mg Melatonin
- 2-3 capsules ZMA (each capsule typically contains 10 mg of zinc, 150 mg of magnesium, and 3-4 mg of B6)
The best time to take this melatonin sleep stack is 30-60 minutes prior to bed.
Three powerful nootropics for sleep combined together are better than one. This sleep stack is great for those who have a hard time falling asleep and want to remain asleep all night long.
Here's what you'll need:
- 300 mg 5-HTP
- 1 g Valerian root
- 3 mg Melatonin
Take this stack 30 minutes prior to bed. The 5-HTP will help to relax you by inhibiting feelings of stress or anxiety, while the valerian root will induce drowsiness. Add in the melatonin and you'll be dozing off in no time.
There's a lot of scientific data to prove the effectiveness of melatonin on individuals suffering with sleep issues, but the debate surrounding its effectiveness is still rampant. As with most nootropics, we find that each one effects individuals differently. So you really want to try it out and see how your body responds.
If you're a shift worker, experiencing jet lag or simply want to achieve a better quality of sleep or improve your sleep patterns, then give melatonin a try. Remember, taking more melatonin will make this supplement work faster. Be sure to consult your physician if you have any doubts or are currently taking medication.
Tell me, have you tried melatonin before? Maybe you found a melatonin stack that worked like a charm? Be sure to share your experience in the comment section below to help out your fellow nootrohackers.
- Evaluation of sleep, puberty and mental health in children with long-term melatonin treatment for chronic idiopathic childhood sleep onset insomnia — NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21340475
- Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects — NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18036082
- Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag — NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12076414