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Photo: Ketut Subiyanto

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Melatonin 101

We all know how important sleep is for our skin, health, energy, and everything else you can think of. Lying in bed is fun, but not everyone is lucky enough to fall (and stay) asleep as easily as others. Melatonin can help! Here’s what to know before you start taking the supplement.

Written On 4/27/2022

When you can’t fall asleep at night, doom scrolling is not the solution.

But some of us are a little more nervous about taking melatonin than what we will find on the internet circa 2:00 AM insomnia.

Have no fear, as always caliray is here and with a little help from Dr. Jaqueline Jacques, our in-house medical expert and Chief Resource Officer of Thorne HealthTech.

What TF is melatonin anyway?

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark outside to signal drowsiness. Now, you’re not going crazy: as we age our bodies produce less melatonin; (shoutout to Dr. Jacques for this informative fact). If you’re realllyyy into understanding how much melatonin you have in your body, Dr. Jacques shared this test with us.

When should I take melatonin?

Melatonin is best about 30 minutes or so before bed. It’s advised to not take it with booze as alcohol already disrupts natural melatonin levels, but there don’t seem to be any studies saying it’s dangerous per se. (As always, check with your physician, as we are beauty and wellness experts here, not doctors obvi.) Melatonin’s effects last from 4-to-8 hours. The older you are, the slower your metabolism, which will cause the melatonin to last longer. Pro tip: Blue light from our phones can confuse our body and make the melatonin’s life shorter.

How much melatonin should I take?

Melatonin is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Dr. Jaques recommends starting with a low dosage such as 1-to-3 mg. Up to 5 mg is safe to try, and if 5 isn’t helping, she recommends not going higher until consulting a doctor. The most commonly reported side effect of melatonin is experiencing nightmares, but at higher doses there can be other side effects. Melatonin might not be the solution in that case!

Make sure to check the packaging of your melatonin though, as you may need to take only half of the tablet and/or gummy. According to a Casper mattresses blog, there are also two types of melatonin to look out for: There are pills that instantly release melatonin into your body AND there are extended-release melatonin pills (slow- or time-release pills) where the ingredient dissolves gradually.

Can I take melatonin every night?

Melatonin supplements aren’t a forever fix for sleep problems. Experts recommend only using it consecutively for 1-to-2 months. Dr. Jacques reminded us that melatonin is best for those with dysfunctions in their sleep cycles, like shift workers, college students pulling too many all-nighters, and travelers experiencing jet lag, to name a few.

Ultimately, melatonin is never the only solution. Think about changing your night routine to stop electronics before bed. Or maybe updating your pillow, room temperature, and lighting. THOSE WHO KNOW suggest not spending too much time in your bed during the day or in the hours leading up to bed time. Keep your bedroom sacred for the holiest of deeds… that is sleep… DUH!

You can find ways to wind down with a book, yoga, meditation, skincare routine, or lighting a candle; (our Been Out All Night candle is our fav).

Important Health Disclaimers!

Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting to take melatonin. The risks of side effect may be increased (not guaranteed) if you take the following medications:

  • Birth control or oral contraceptives
  • Blood thinners
  • Immunosuppressants or corticosteroids
  • Medications that lower blood pressure
  • Warfarin or other anticoagulants

And as always, some shopping recs to get started:

stay rested