General Health

The Science of Sleep: Everything You Want to Know About Melatonin

Everything You Want to Know About Melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. The pineal gland, located near the center of your brain, is named for its pine-cone shape and is about the size of a grain of rice. Working in tandem with the pineal gland is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). When exposed to darkness, the SCN sends the pineal gland signals to produce melatonin to cause feelings of sleepiness. In the morning, the SCN triggers the release of cortisol and raises body temperature to stimulate feelings of wakefulness.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin levels drop dramatically by mid-morning. In many people, they rise at night. Still, in people who have a difficult time sleeping, studies have shown blood melatonin levels are low.5 Exposing yourself to anything that emits blue light such as computers, electronic tablets, and cell phones can also cause a drop in nighttime melatonin levels.6 Additionally, aging causes changes in the pineal gland, leading to a decline in melatonin production at night.1 Certain medications, such as beta-blockers, may also lower melatonin levels.7

What is a Circadian rhythm?

Everyone has a circadian rhythm, an internal clock that governs when you wake up and fall asleep to how fast you recover from a long overnight plane ride. Working late or also using too many lights at night can easily disrupt this rhythm, causing your sleep to suffer. Luckily, a hormone is known as melatonin plays a vital role in your circadian rhythm and promoting a night of restful sleep. Melatonin may support health in several ways. Here is what research is saying about this healthy “hormone of darkness.”

What Is Melatonin Used for?

Melatonin for Sleep and Jet Lag

Studies have shown that melatonin can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.8,9 For example, in a survey of 307 people who had a difficult time falling asleep at conventional bedtimes and difficulty waking early enough in the morning to meet commitments, melatonin was given one hour before the desired bedtime combined with some behavioral changes resulted in more easily falling asleep at an appropriate hour.10

Melatonin may also be useful for jet lag. Start taking it in the afternoon a few days before traveling east and combine it with bright outdoor light after waking up in the morning.11

Melatonin for Immunity, Heart Health, and More

Although melatonin is best known for supporting healthy sleep, it’s also involved in other areas of optimal health. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant12 and supports a normal inflammatory response.1 It also helps maintain a healthy immune system.1 It’s involved in heart health, especially supporting healthy blood pressure.13,14 What’s more, it plays a role in weight management and supporting well-being and mood.1 Researchers also think it may promote normal brain function.1

Where is Melatonin found?

You can also find Melatonin in some foods.1 Eggs, fish, and nuts are particularly good sources of melatonin.1 Certain kinds of mushrooms, cereals, and germinated legumes or seeds also provide levels of this hormone.1

However, the level of melatonin found in food can vary significantly among various foods. Also, the melatonin level in plant foods depends upon the environment in which they were grown. The temperature, amount of sunlight, ripening process, and pesticide/herbicide treatment can all affect melatonin levels.3 Even the time of day when you milk a cow can change the melatonin levels in dairy. Nighttime milking can lead to a melatonin level approximately ten times higher compared to milking during the day.4 Because there’s no easy way to control the melatonin dosage by eating food, melatonin supplements are a more dependable way to manage your melatonin levels.

What Is the Recommended Dose of Melatonin?

The optimal melatonin dosage in adults can range from .75 mg (when combined with other sleep-supporting ingredients) to 3 mg to 10 mg when used as a stand-alone product. For people concerned about supporting immune health, 20 mg may be necessary.

Melatonin Side Effects

When taken at recommended doses, the side effects of melatonin are rare. Some people can experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness. If that’s the case for you, try a lower dose. The 2015 American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines recommends that people with dementia avoid using melatonin.

Best Melatonin Supplements

Vital Nutrients offers three melatonin dosages: 3 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg, one of the highest potency melatonin supplements available. It is also found along with other sleep-supporting ingredients in the comprehensive formulas Sleep + Recover and Sleep Aide. These supplements are designed to keep you well-rested and ready to face the challenges of the day.


Explore All Sleep Products




The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Related Articles
What are Pancreatic Enzymes? | How They Support Healthy Digestion-Vital Nutrients
What are Pancreatic Enzymes? | How They Support Healthy Digestion*

Pancreatic enzymes are often recommended as digestive support supplements. In this article, we will explain what these enzymes are, and...

Learn More
Natural Immune Supplements for Kids*
Natural Immune Supplements for Kids*

The change of seasons often signals the start of cold and flu season, especially for kids that spend their days...

Learn More
3 supplements to optimize your vegan diet*
3 Supplements to Optimize Your Vegan Diet*

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you know how challenging it can be to find supplements that support...

Learn More