Melatonin has become widely available as a supplement in recent years, and one of the most common concerns is the risk of melatonin overdose. To understand the proper melatonin dosage, it is necessary to understand what melatonin is and how much the body makes, as well as consider any possible differences between synthetic melatonin and melatonin extracts from mammals.
The body contains an intricate system for causing sleepiness called the Circadian Rhythm. Light and dark cycles are important for both getting to sleep and for a wakeful state of consciousness during the day. The primary mechanism of the cycle happens in darkness, which is a trigger for the pineal gland to produce a melatonin dose ranging from 5-25 micrograms. Insomnia and problems managing the sleep-wake cycle are more common in older populations, because the body decreases melatonin production with age. Problems sleeping for younger people are primarily due to medical conditions, artificial light, and schedules demanding sleep during the day.
Melatonin is often sought for its ability to induce sleepiness naturally, but people also use it for the valuable antioxidant properties and as a treatment for several emotional and chronic disorders. Though real melatonin can be found, it must be extracted from animal tissues or plants, which makes for two downsides. It is more expensive, and the animal form may contain unwanted trace particles, like prions or viral toxins. Synthetic melatonin has shown no difference in action within the body and is considered a safer alternative.
What is the Best Melatonin Dosage for Supplementation?
As with other medications intended for use over weeks or more, it is best to start with a smaller melatonin dose and work up to the amount needed. The lowest dose available is about .3 milligrams, and most people will find satisfactory results between 1 and 5 milligrams. It may be necessary to find a liquid supplement to start the routine, and switch to a more convenient pill or capsule after establishing the best dose.
Since everyone produces some amount of melatonin, even those suffering from insomnia, each person will respond differently to larger doses. Side effects of melatonin overdose, assuming it is not a dramatic overdose, include: mood swings, rapid pulse, sluggish response, lowered body temperature and itching. Vivid dreams are not uncommon even at the proper dose. Appearance of any side effects indicates the need to cut back dosage. Start with a smaller melatonin dose for the best results. The goal in using melatonin would be to help your body get the rhythm of its natural sleep cycle thus not needing to take melatonin for a period of time.