Melatonin – the perfect sleep pill

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Melatonin is the natural peptide hormone, a neurotransmitter that’s produced during darkness to make you sleepy. It’s basically the hormone in your body that says – time to fall asleep. And when it’s dark in the evening, you get this big burst in melatonin in your body. And that’s literally what makes you tired. And unlike many hormones, you can take melatonin, you can supplement it, and it has the exact same effect as if your body produces it naturally. It doesn’t affect your natural production and it doesn’t seem to have any side effects, even in super high dosages. So this seems to be one of those cases where we’ve just determined scientifically – what is it in the body that does what we want? Okay, Now we can synthesize this in a lab and we take that and we get the effect that we want and the problem is solved. So it’s significantly reduced sleep latency, which is science speak for saying it makes you fall asleep faster and it has typically a positive effect, even though it’s minor on sleep quality as well. But by and large, melatonin helps you fall asleep but not stay asleep. So if your problem is that you wake up at night, melatonin is not going to work for that because melatonin levels should be high. Maybe it will help you fall back asleep. Melatonin does not prevent you from waking up, so that’s usually due to stress or low magnesium levels or light exposure at night. So melatonin is not the solution for that. It’s specifically the solution for people that do not fall asleep within 20 minutes or so is typically the recommendation used in research. If it takes you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, that is categorized as not normal for me. It still often takes 1 to 20 minutes, but if you take melatonin about 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, general recommendation is about an hour. I actually find that it hits me within 40 minutes and sometimes I feel like the effect kind of passes within an hour. So you will take it somewhere within this timeframe and just see what works for you. You’ll fall asleep more easily. How much to take? Depends a lot on your natural melatonin synthesis. If you’re already producing enough on your own, you fall asleep within 5 minutes every day. There is no point in taking melatonin. It doesn’t do anything positive. Your body produces enough on its own if you do not produce enough on its own, and even if you normally do. But in this case you want to go to bed earlier than normal. For example, let’s say you want to start going to bed earlier. Melatonin is great to help you do that. And that’s for a lot of people. It’s difficult, especially if you want to do more than one hour per day. Most people find it’s easier to do it gradually to shift your bio rhythm, because the general rule of thumb is that you can shift your bio rhythm by one hour per day. So it takes one day to shift about one hour. And also for jetlag. That’s a good rule of thumb. Takes about one day to offset one hour of difference in time zone. Melatonin helps you do that a lot. And also when you’re jet lagged, melatonin helps a lot. Now, in terms of dosage, many people recommend starting very low. And I don’t really agree with that. If you just look at the effects on research, you see that 3 to 5 grams or milligrams per day, it’s is most effective. For most people There are no benefits of going more than 3 milligrams. Some people, especially jetlagged individuals or people with sleep disorders like me, they go up to five milligrams and there’s still a benefit. So it really seems to depend on how much does your body already produce on its own. Normally, though, that’s only, I think, 0.2 to 0.9 milligrams per day. So this is already super physiological for most people, but that seems to be completely safe and free from side effects. So that’s fine. And in terms of the form, fast release seems best these days because melatonin became quite popular, lots of different forms. None of them really seem to have benefits. Fast release is best because it mimics the natural by rhythm where you get this peak at the end of the day and then it goes back down. Slow release Melatonin makes the melatonin stay in your system for longer and then you can get melatonin hangover where if you wake up either later, sometimes it makes people wake up for some reason at night, and sometimes people want to wake up in the morning. They still have higher melatonin levels than they should and they feel still somewhat sleepy and groggy. So fast Release is actually best and there’s no reason to go with the late release. There are a few niche individuals maybe that benefit from slow release, but on average fast release is I would typically want to start. It’s very safe. Non-addictive doesn’t interfere with natural production long term, so it’s really great if it helps you sleep better. And in terms of benefits, all the benefits that you get are the benefits from sleep, which is everything There is direct research showing that people to take melatonin for a year, for example, they lose fat. It helps with lean body mass in some research, but not directly, only because it helps you sleep better, which improves everything else in your life. So yeah, I don’t have a section on benefits because I think all the benefits are mitigated by improved sleep. But if you look at the benefits in research, there are tons. I just think they are all mitigated by or mediated by the improved sleep quality. And melatonin itself doesn’t do much, although it is a very potent antioxidant, Actually.

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About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

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