Melatonin differs from most pharmaceutical sleeping aids because it’s a natural hormone produced by the human body rather than a drug. It’s produced naturally by the human brain at night and regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Used at low doses over the course of months, it has almost no recorded negative side effects. At worse it can cause grogginess or irritability.
Melatonin occurs naturally in foods such as cherries, plums, bananas, and grapes.
In scientific studies, it has been found to speed the onset of sleep by about five minutes. It has had some clinical efficacy in reducing headaches and the effects of jet lag, especially if one is traveling eastward. It has also proved to be of benefit for helping autistic people to sleep.
The question, however, is: What is the proper dose to help you fall asleep and stay asleep? There is no real consensus.
“I’ve had problems with sleep most of my life, I’ve been prescribed meds, used alcohol, and weed as sleep aids and also tried melatonin multiple times.
In the past when I’ve tried melatonin I’ve had the standard 3mg tablets that is common to find in stores. It would work for a few days and then stop working well. Sometimes it just didn’t work well at all from the start. I rarely used it because the effectiveness was so hit and miss even when taking 10mg. I’d often wake up in the middle of the night and not sleep very well even if it did get me to sleep.
Recently I skeptically tried a low dose. I bought 1mg tabs and broke them in 1/4’s so .25mg~ each. I’ve been taking it for 2 weeks and each night it’s been very effective. I have not built up a tolerance to it and I am getting to sleep just as well 2 weeks in as I did the first day. My girlfriend also finds the low dose much more effective for her than 3mg tablets.
If you have tried melatonin in the past without great results I highly recommended you try a very low dose.”
“Natrol makes a liquid version, can sometimes be found at places like Walgreens and Vitamin Shoppe. 4 droppers = 1mg (their recommended serving size), so 1 dropper = .25mg, 60 doses in a $5 bottle…couldn’t be easier or cheaper. Also, taking it sublingually seems to be faster-acting than tablets.”
“Trader Joe’s carries 500mcg tablets. Walmart used to have 300mcg, but they seem to have discontinued it, probably because everyone was either confused/scared, or wanted better ‘value.’
Also, consider taking the melatonin earlier. Try 9:00, or 8:00. Heck, try 5:00 and see what happens.
By the way, smaller tablets are preferable to splitting larger ones, since you’re not going to get it exact, due to both cutting precision, plus potentially uneven distribution within a tablet.”
“I am a chronic insomniac and melatonin is the only thing that has ever effectively regulated my sleep schedule and allowed me to function in normal human society (as opposed to 3 AM, which is when I am naturally in my prime).
I initially started out on the 3mg stuff, but I have been building up a tolerance to it over the years and currently take anywhere from 20-30mg per night, combined with Valerian, to knock me out.
I cycle off every couple of months and use Doxylamine Succinate instead, to try and prevent it from getting to unmanageable levels (10mg melatonin capsules ain’t cheap), but it leaves me groggy in the mornings, while with melatonin I generally wake up if not completely refreshed, then at least relatively alert.
I will give the micro-dose theory a shot after my next cycle, but I’m not counting on any miracles.”
“Maybe my body naturally produces enough melatonin on its own. i can’t imagine taking more than 3mg at a time. 1-1.5mg at night makes me feel groggy, irritable, and sometimes sad the day after use. it’s possible that i take it too late and wake up too early, though. job, etc.
i think everyone (with the exception of those who have no problems with melatonin) would do well to take any amount of melatonin daily that is comfortable for them, but my only source is anecdotal.”
“So I am posting here because one of the most important factors for cognitive function is being well rested. I recently began taking 5mg time release melatonin tablets at night to help with my insomnia. Unfortunately, everyone’s biochemistry is different and I personally felt sedated a large portion of a day after taking a 5mg dose the prior night. Last night, I split the pill into four pieces and only took 1/4th dose (1.25mg of the time release tablet) I haven’t felt this well rested in ages and I only had to sleep about 5 and a half hours! So if you’re taking melatonin and feel even somewhat sedated or over tired the next day, try reducing the dosage and this can be a really fantastic tool for productivity and to give you more waking hours in the day. – also I should note, I take melatonin about a half hour before sleeping and I’m asleep before midnight most nights
Update: just tried 1/8th of the pill ( 0.625mg) and this seems to be the perfect quantity for me to feel more refreshed than ever!”
“I was told by a neurologist that anything over 300 mcg (micrograms) will either offer no benefit up to 1mg and cause sleep problems above 2mg. He told me that 5mg pills aren’t going to hurt you, but are sold to the American “bigger must be better” buyer.
I’ve not tried time release, but I limit my caffiene after noon and take half a 1mg tablet.
They do sell 300mcg melatonin, I can’t help but think there’s a reason for that.”
“I break a 3mg pill into quarters, and it has a very noticeable effect on me. However, any amount of supplemental melatonin makes me quite depressed the next day.”
“I don’t have much trouble sleeping so I’d rather maximize the life extension effect and brain-protecting effect. I take 5-10g before bed. I thought about taking a <1 g dose before bed and a 5 g dose at some other time of day though to get both benefits. But I’m unsure about whether it’s really true that a 5g dose is better for longevity.”
“Doesn’t work on me at all. Taken up to 20mg and still nothing. Weed on the other hand….zzzzzzzz.”
“If 1mg isn’t helping you sleep, you could try 1.5 or even up to 3mg. Its not going to hurt you, you aren’t going to OD or have any adverse effects but there’s also increasingly small effects as you keep bumping up the dosage so if you take 3mg and still feel nothing then just give it up. Melatonin isn’t a drug you can catch a buzz from or anything like that, it could potentially help you fall asleep and for some people it enhances dreams but that’s about it so don’t go crazy with it or anything.”
“What other posters have said. There’s no real need to go above 1mg, less is more. I’ve used melatonin for years now (it’s quite helpful if you use stimulants, not only does it help reset the sleep schedule but it apparently has anti-oxidant properties as well) and I can tell you that taking 1mg does the exact same thing as taking 9mg.”
“5 years ago or so I tried melatonin and followed instruction (1 tablet of 3 mg 30 min before bedtime). It worked and I got very interesting night dreams and they were brighter and more colored. Anyway I still didn’t feel rested at morning but at least I could go to sleep with knowing I will fall asleep and will not lay on the bed for few hours trying do this.
After week or two (I used melatonin everyday) I decided to experiment a bit and I tried then 6-9-12-15 mg doses and found that 15 mg was actually indistinguishable from 3 mg. Then I tried divide tablet so I tested 1.5 mg and 0.75 mg and (funny thing!) they work almost the same like 3 mg – I mean if you lay in bed and turn off lights you likely will fall asleep.
So I can assume that melatonin really can be effective at low doses as 100 ug. But it probably depends on set & setting (suddenly? I think no) – if you don’t want to sleep and just drank a coffee you 100% will not feel anything. But if you have some minor problems with sleep and planning to fix them responsibly it likely will help.”
“I have found 1.5-2mg sublingually is ideal for falling asleep. Oral administration does little if anything though.”
“I have been using the melatonin with lemon balm made by onnit recently. they come in 5mg tablets but they are easily broken in half. I have found that half of one tablet, which would be 2.5 mg seems to work perfectly for me at least. I have used an entire tablet as well, I have even taken 10 mg some nights, however for me it seems that 2.5 mg is a perfect dose. Also, I usually take the melatonin with ZMA as well.”
“I’ve taken from .5mg up to about 80mg i usually find 1mg hits the spot for assisting me to fall asleep. When i took 80mg not much at all really happen, it didn’t even knock me out! I tend to find less is more when it comes to melatonin!”
“Melatonin is weird in that smaller doses have been proven more effective/the same effectiveness as larger doses.
Basically 1-3mg around 1hr before bed is the best.”
“Insomnia started years ago due to aging. Tried several sleep aids then settled on just 1/2mg Melatonin nightly. Gives me 6-8 hrs sleep including REM. Often remember dreams; like watched or created 3-4 different movies in my mind i.e., REM every 2hrs. Would give Melatonin a 10 except every 2 wks or so it stops working. Tried increasing dosage at that point but even going up to just 1mg gives me neurological twitches. For me, a retiree, what works is 2 wks 1/2mg alternating with 2 wks of zero sleep aids, tolerating sleeplessness. Beware of doctors who offer to replace Melatonin with things that will fry your brains while sparing your heart. Melatonin does not directly induce sleep; it can nudge your body’s natural melatonin production.”
“I am over 50 and I no longer get the amount of sleep that I used to. Went from 8 hours to now I’m lucky if I get 5 hours and it’s interrupted sleep. I tried prescription sleeping pills once, but they had nasty side affects Melatonin really helps. If you take too high a dose (larger than 3mg) you will wake up with a headache I break a 3mg pill in half and take it.”
“For insomnia I think it helps, 1mg to 3mg depending on each one’s body. But if you don’t get to sleep properly, maybe anxiety is the cause. In my case and from my life experience, I do some tricks to beat both anxiety and insomnia: 1.5mg melatonin 30min before bed time; Spend those 30min reading a book (out of the bedroom) with just 5w blue-light; Take 75mg Trazodone when already in bed, just before program my alarm-clock, lights out; Always get up before 9am (no matter what); Exercise outdoors 40min (before lunch time ); Have 2 hobbies: listen to music (without headphones) and study collective sports; Dinner time before 8:30pm; And psychotherapy 2 times a month, forever. SO: melatonin is a part of a whole.”
“Many people dose this medicine far too high. 5mg and above is absurd. 0.3mg-1mg gives me a beautiful night’s rest. 2mg and 3mg and I was waking up every few hours. If you are having sleeping troubles while taking melatonin, try a lower dose! Higher dose does not mean better sleep, it can mean the opposite! Good luck.”
“I basically love trying everything…And this is actually a really good supplement, I tried 2mg tabs but I’ve learnt my body is quite strong against drugs… So whilst I was abroad (need a prescription in the UK) I got 5mg tabs and wow! I’m out within an hour. If you find you’re taking it with no effect, keep taking it for 2 weeks then stop for 3-4 days then start the cycle again, I found this the best way to maximize its effects. If it doesn’t hit just take 2 but I can’t recommend more as I haven’t tried that. DO NOT EVER TAKE SLEEPING PILLS! Worse than LSD.”
“Here, Europe slashed maximum melatonin levels from 5mg per day to 1mg and it’s really enough. I’m totally reborn.”
“I always sleep after 2.30am. It wasn’t really a problem since I’m a freelancer and I could work anytime I want. But sometimes I need to wake up early in the morning I’ve always use Alprazolam to help me get to sleep early. I don’t like the feeling of taking it, it makes me sleep so fast and it doesn’t feel natural. I then read about this Melatonin and bought the 3mg, I didn’t take one whole pill, I divided into 2 parts. So I just took 1.5mg. And you know what it works wonder for me! I feel sleepy after taking it and the sleepy feeling was so natural and I also woke with no drowsiness. If you had sleeping problem try this one first. Make sure you take the lowest dosage before you raise it…”
“I bought melatonin 5mg. The first time I ever took it I didn’t notice any difference. I still couldn’t sleep and still woke up during the day. 6 months later, I decided to give it another try. I took one 5mg and it did nothing, so I decided to up my dose. The next night I took 10 mg about 30 to 40 minutes before sleeping. I kid you not I fell asleep so fast I didn’t know what hit me. I slept without waking up for a complete 8 hours and didn’t feel tired when I woke up. This has seriously helped me a lot. It had been years due to insomnia and scoliosis since I’ve had day much less months of good sleep. I highly recommend it. Play around with doses. Add 1/2 the dose or a whole pill of the dose you are already taking if it isn’t working for you.”
“I take 20mg every evening, around 8pm.
The reason I bring up my dosage is to point out that melatonin isn’t likely to cause you any harm, but the exact amount you’d want to take is something you’ll have to evaluate for yourself. I have a very specific medical condition which is very uncommon (thankfully).
Melatonin isn’t a sedative. It initiates the circadian rhythm reset, getting sleepy is a side effect.”
“Depends on your goal. 3-4 mg for occasional overcoming jetlag and “need-to-sleep-tonight” use. Sub 500mcg for regular use in maintaining circadian rhythm.”
“I talked to a sleep specialist and found out that micro-dosing melatonin is actually a lot more beneficial. I used to take 2.5mg and I now take 300mcg.”
“Get a small bottle of the more potent stuff, maybe like 10 to 30 pills that are 3 to 5 mg. Then use a scale to make your own doses and experiment. Open up the pill, weigh it, and ratio out the weight to get your smaller doses. Start lower since the general wisdom when using it for sleep is ‘use as little as works.’ Then increase it if it doesn’t work (even in that same night). You could create a 250mcg trial dose and prepare a 1mg ‘for sure’ dose just in case you don’t feel sleepy after 30 minutes. Maybe another 1mg dose just in case. The next time, try 500mcg. Play with it.”
“I generally use 500mcg on most nights combined with around 1.5g taurine. It helps me to stay asleep. Higher doses are probably more useful for falling asleep, but often if I take too much I will wake up wide awake a few hours later. Also, I always have very vivid/often bizarre dreams when I take it.”