Lack of sleep is a global problem that is increasingly common in today’s society. Some surveys found that many more people are sleeping fewer hours than recommended and about 80% of adults globally experience sleep problems. In 1942, 8 hours of sleep was the norm, now 6.8 is the average. Lack of sleep has been associated with lifestyle factors related to a modern 24/7 society, such as stress, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and excessive use of digital devices. Sleep is considered essential for health, productivity and wellbeing.
Does Melatonin work?
Melatonin is widely used in food supplements addressing sleep disorders. But does Melatonin work and is it safe? Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The level of Melatonin in our body is low during the daytime, but it increases in the evening hours, reaching peak concentration around 2-4 am, after which the levels decline gradually till waking hours. Research shows that administration of supplementary melatonin has beneficial effects: it synchronizes the sleep–wake cycle and restores normal levels of melatonin produced by our body.
Is Melatonin safe?
European health authorities are among the most severe and stringent in terms of safety. With regard to Melatonin, The European Health Authority (EFSA) has authorised Melatonin use as a sleep aid supplement with up to 1 mg dosage. And Melatonin is approved for alleviating jet lag and reducing the time needed to fall asleep. Extensive research shows that Melatonin is safe for short-term use and unlike many other sleep medications, Melatonin is unlikely to cause dependency, give diminished response after repeated use, or cause a hangover effect. High Melatonin dosages can cause only mild adverse effects, such as dizziness, headache, nausea and sleepiness, even with long-term use.
What is the optimal dosage?
This depends on several factors, like age and weight. However, as a general rule, to get the optimal effect from Melatonin, take the lowest necessary dosage. Normally, immediate-release formulations vary from 0.5 mg to 3 mg per dosage, and should be taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime in order to best mimic the normal sleep-wake cycle of Melatonin, and to avoid side effects. Start by trying the recommended dosage on the supplement package and seeing how that works. If you don’t fall asleep quickly, try taking more next time and if you feel sluggish when waking, try taking less.
Tips for better sleep
- Follow a regular sleep schedule: Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or when you are traveling.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.
- Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening and take time to relax before going to bed each night. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- In the evening, avoid eating large meals, many liquids, caffeine and alcohol and use low lighting.
- Try not to watch television or use your computer, cell phone, or tablet in the bedroom.
Combining these healthy habits with a good Melatonin supplement will help you to improve your sleep and your overall wellness.
Always remember to consult your doctor before taking food supplements, in case of particular medical conditions.
Vural et al., 2014
Andersen et al., 2015
Burgess et al., 2010
Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012