Everything You Wanted to Know About the Sleep Hormone Melatonin

Where and when is melatonin produced, is it worth taking as a supplement, and if so, at what dosage

Honestly, are you getting a full eight hours of quality sleep every night? We would venture to suggest that the majority will answer in the negative. Lack of sleep or restless sleep is a common problem that can have serious consequences. Poor sleep not only drains energy and lowers productivity, but also increases the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Melatonin, or sleep hormone, is a central part of the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Its production increases with the onset of darkness, which promotes healthy sleep and helps the body navigate our circadian rhythm, or biological clock.

The body naturally produces melatonin, but external sources of melatonin are now becoming increasingly popular, with the help of which some hope to solve problems with sleep.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and then released into the bloodstream. Darkness prompts the pineal gland to start producing melatonin, while light causes this production to stop. As a result, melatonin helps regulate our circadian rhythm and synchronize our sleep-wake cycle with night and day.

The hormone can be divided into two types:

Endogenous – Melatonin, which is produced in the body

Exogenous – synthetic melatonin produced in a laboratory and taken orally as a dietary supplement in the form of a tablet or capsule.

What time of day is melatonin produced?

The body begins to produce melatonin two hours before going to bed, that is, if you go to bed regularly at 23.00, then the hormone enters the bloodstream at 21.00. Our body produces melatonin most actively between 2 and 4 am, and in the second half of its production gradually declines.

You can help your body by ditching gadgets in bed. The blue light from the screens confuses the body and interferes with hormone production. Alcohol consumed shortly before bed has the same negative effect.

Can Melatonin Supplements Improve Sleep?

Research has shown that the most obvious potential benefits of melatonin are for people who have sleep problems associated with a delay in the sleep-wake phase.

A delay in the sleep-wake phase is a violation of the circadian rhythm in which a person’s sleep schedule shifts later, often by several hours. A classic example is people who have made an intercontinental flight or work on a rotational basis.

There is debate about whether melatonin is beneficial for healthy adults with insomnia. Some experts find evidence in favor of melatonin, while others, such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, do not acknowledge the role of melatonin in reducing insomnia.

Side effects

Short-term use of melatonin has relatively few side effects and is well tolerated by most people. The most common side effects are daytime sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness, but they affect only a small percentage of people.

A consultation with a doctor is useful for everyone and is mandatory for people taking antiepileptic and blood thinning drugs.

People who are not recommended for melatonin include people with dementia. In addition, there is little research on the safety of melatonin supplementation in pregnant and lactating women.

The long-term effects of melatonin supplementation are uncertain and therefore require ongoing consultation with a healthcare professional.


There is no consensus on the optimal dose * of melatonin, but most experts advise avoiding extremely high doses. The typical dosage in dietary supplements is 1 to 3 milligrams (mg), but will vary depending on the age of the patient and the severity of sleep problems.

* In some cases, the dosage is indicated in micrograms (mcg): 1000 mcg = 1 mg.

If you experience daytime sleepiness after taking melatonin as a sleeping pill, try lowering your dosage. It is advisable to start at the lowest possible dose and gradually increase it, ideally under the supervision of a physician.

Oral supplements can bring melatonin levels in the blood far above those normally produced by the body. For example, dosages between 1-10 mg may increase concentration of melatonin anywhere from 3 to 60 times the typical level.