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How Long Does Melatonin Last?

Posted By: Layla

Melatonin can last up to four hours or more, but the duration of effects varies depending on factors like your personal sensitivity, dosage, and formulation. Some types of melatonin, such as extended release, release gradually over a longer period of time and can last longer, while fast-acting melatonin is rapidly absorbed and typically comes with a shorter duration.

How Long Does Melatonin Last?

So how long does melatonin last? There are many factors that impact the duration of action, but if you have specific concerns, you should always consult your doctor, who can provide you with guidance and advice.

Keep reading to learn more about melatonin, including what it is, what impacts its effectiveness, and whether it’s the right option for you.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone produced in the brain responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm, and can manage some types of sleep deprivation. This hormone is naturally created by the body during darkness, such as when the sun sets.

Your melatonin levels rise in the evening, telling your mind and body that it’s time to wind down and get ready to sleep. Then, melatonin decreases in the morning to make you feel more awake. The more melatonin you have in your body, the more tired you’ll feel.

Melatonin is also a supplement available over the counter for individuals who don’t naturally produce enough melatonin or experience sleep-wake cycle issues. These supplements are available in various dosages ranging from 1 mg to 10 mg.

How much melatonin to take largely depends on individual factors like age, sleep, and sensitivity. In most cases, a low dose of 1 to 3 mg is enough to support your circadian rhythm. In contrast, higher doses are recommended for individuals with severe sleep difficulties or circadian rhythm disorders. If you’re unsure how much melatonin to take, consult a doctor or start with the lowest dose and monitor your response.

How Long Does Melatonin Take to Work?

How long it takes melatonin to work and for you to start feeling tired depends on factors like dosage, timing, individual factors, and sleep environment. While melatonin promotes sleep onset, it is not sleep-inducing, meaning it doesn’t directly help with sleep in the same way other medications can. Instead, it helps regulate the timing of sleep rather than overriding other factors that affect sleep, like stress or sleep disorders.

Research found that melatonin is absorbed rapidly and typically begins working between 20 minutes and 2 hours. However, some melatonin supplements are extended release, allowing it to dissolve gradually over time to help you stay asleep.

How Long Does Melatonin Stay in Your System?

Melatonin has a half-life of between 20 and 45 minutes, which means a standard dose will stay in your system for about four hours until it’s inactive. However, the effects of melatonin can extend beyond its half-life, with the duration varying due to dosage, timing, and individual factors like metabolism.

A standard melatonin dosage has a half-life of between 20 and 45 minutes and can last about 4 hours.

How long it takes the effect of melatonin to wear off will vary on the person. In general, the more you take, the longer it will take to wear off.

What Factors Affect Melatonin’s Effectiveness?

As we’ve mentioned, there are several factors that can impact melatonin’s effectiveness and duration. The effectiveness and response to melatonin varies, with some people being more sensitive, while others may not experience a significant difference. These are some of the factors that can impact melatonin effectiveness:

Factors that affect melatonin's effectiveness
  • Age: Older individuals have lower levels of natural melatonin because production slows with age. This can affect their melatonin sensitivity, leading it to take longer to wear off.
  • Illness: Certain illnesses can affect melatonin production and alter the effectiveness of supplements.
  • Medications: Medications can interact with a variety of supplements, including melatonin. Again, you should consult your doctor before taking melatonin if you’re taking any medications.
  • Caffeine: Drinking caffeine throughout the day can interfere with natural melatonin production and supplement effectiveness. Limiting caffeine during the day and before bed can make melatonin supplements more effective.
  • Smoking: Research suggests that smokers have lower melatonin levels than non-smokers and can disrupt the metabolism of a supplement.
  • Height and weight: Height and weight can also impact melatonin’s effectiveness by influencing the ways it’s metabolized in the body. Individuals with larger body sizes may require higher doses for the same level of effectiveness.
  • Light: Light exposure can suppress melatonin levels at night, reducing the supplement’s effectiveness.

When Should You Take Melatonin?

Melatonin is also a supplement that’s used to help regulate sleep and promote sleep onset, but it doesn’t affect sleep quality or sleep cycles like REM and NREM, meaning melatonin is a sleep facilitator, not an inducer. Instead, it’s most commonly used by individuals who need to reset their sleep schedules due to jet lag or difficulty falling asleep. A few instances when you might benefit from melatonin include the following:

  • Difficulty falling asleep: Melatonin may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It’s recommended to take it at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed or when you need to go to sleep, allowing enough time for the melatonin to be absorbed and signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Melatonin can regulate the timing of sleep onset and make it easier to fall asleep.
  • Jet lag: Melatonin can help adjust your sleep schedule when traveling across time zones. By taking melatonin near your desired bedtime in the new time zone on the day of travel and for a few days afterward, you can help regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Insomnia: Melatonin can help individuals suffering from insomnia in the short term by reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Unfortunately, more research is still needed to determine the effectiveness of melatonin for sleep disorders. However, research suggests melatonin can worsen other sleep disorders, like restless leg syndrome.
  • Migraines: Melatonin may help prevent and reduce the frequency of migraines because of its ability to regulate sleep and circadian rhythms.
  • Anxiety: This supplement may also be used as an alternative treatment for anxiety since it promotes relaxation before bedtime.

What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?

Melatonin is generally well-tolerated and safe for short-term use. However, you should be aware of the potential side effects to ensure your safety. The side effects of melatonin vary by person and typically include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Seizure disorders
  • High blood pressure

Melatonin FAQs

When should you avoid taking melatonin?

Some individuals should avoid taking melatonin. You should only take melatonin to promote a better sleep-wake cycle; it’s not a sedative and should not be used as one. Some instances when you should avoid melatonin include:

  • Driving or operating heavy machinery: Melatonin can cause drowsiness, so if you need to drive within the next few hours, you should not take melatonin. Instead, you should only take melatonin before bed.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: The safety of melatonin supplements has not been studied enough in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Always consult a doctor before taking it.
  • Allergies: Individuals can be allergic to melatonin. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure if you have a melatonin allergy. There may be a better alternative option for you.
  • Certain medications: Melatonin can interact with some medications, including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, blood pressure medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), contraceptives, opiates, and insomnia medications.

Does melatonin make it difficult to wake up?

Melatonin can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and grogginess, especially if you take an extended-release supplement. However, in general, this supplement is not associated with difficulty waking. Sleep inertia is more likely to occur in individuals who take melatonin too close to waking up when it can still be in the body and lead to lingering drowsiness.

In general, avoid taking high doses too close to the time you need to wake up because it can make your body and mind believe it’s night, even during the day. Instead, take melatonin several hours before your wake-up time, such as right before bed.

What are tips for getting better sleep?

Again, melatonin is not a sleep-inducing medication; it’s a sleep onset supplement that can help you adjust your circadian rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep at a desired time. By taking melatonin, you are essentially signaling to your body that it is time to sleep, helping to align your internal clock with a new or specific sleep schedule.

While melatonin can improve sleep onset, it is crucial to establish strong sleep habits to maximize its effectiveness. Here are some sleep habits to make melatonin more effective:

  • Invest in a quality memory foam or hybrid mattress
  • Stick to a consistent bedtime and waketime
  • Use comfortable bedding
  • Exercise during the day instead of at night
  • Avoid blue light before bed
  • Avoid stimulants too close to bedtime
  • Remove distractions from the bedroom
  • Manage stress
  • Use white noise to sleep

Wrapping Up: How Long Does Melatonin Last?

Melatonin can regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promote better sleep while ensuring you stick to a consistent or new bedtime. However, the effects of melatonin vary. While melatonin can help you sleep better, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s not meant to be used long-term.

Instead, long-term solutions to sleep problems include good sleep hygiene, like maintaining a consistent schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and managing stress can help improve your sleep quality. Investing in a comfortable, supportive mattress can help you create a more relaxing sleep environment. Layla Sleeps’ mattresses, pillows, and sheet sets are designed to help you get more restful sleep. Browse our collection today.