Melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. Many people don’t think they get enough sleep and turn to melatonin supplements to help themselves fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
But how does melatonin work? Can it really improve your quality of sleep? We’re happy to say that yes, it can. In this article, we’ll go over what melatonin does for you, how it works, and how long it will stay in your system.
What Does Melatonin Do for You?
Also known as the “sleep hormone,” high melatonin levels relax your body as you prepare to sleep, helping you fall asleep much easier, helping guide your body into entering a natural REM sleep cycle.
While it’s primarily used as a sleep aid, melatonin has other potential health benefits, including:
- Better eye health: Melatonin is full of health-promoting antioxidants, which are a critical component for regulating cell death and inflammation. Some studies have found that these antioxidants can reduce the effects of age-related eye damage and help maintain your vision.
- Reduction of seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Some studies have theorized that SAD is the result of a disorder in your circadian rhythm caused by seasonal light changes. One study found that, since melatonin helps to regulate circadian rhythms, people with SAD may be able to take melatonin to reduce symptoms.
How Does Melatonin Work?
To understand how melatonin supplements work, we should first consider how your body naturally produces its own melatonin.
Light and the Pineal Gland
Melatonin production largely depends on two variables: your pineal gland and darkness. The pineal gland is a small gland deep in the center of your brain that secretes melatonin to regulate your internal clock. This secreted melatonin is then absorbed into your bloodstream and carried through the rest of your body, thus making you feel relaxed and ready for bed.
The pineal gland uses darkness as a trigger to know when to start producing melatonin, thereby increasing melatonin production at night and decreasing it during the day.
The Effects of Artificial Light
The pineal gland doesn’t only use natural light to determine your circadian rhythms. Artificial blue light from TV screens, computers, and smartphones can make you produce less melatonin at night. That means browsing on your phone or working late into the night can hinder your melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep when you’re ready.
How Fast Does Melatonin Work?
When using melatonin supplements, expect to start feeling the effects between 30 and 60 minutes after you take them. With that in mind, you should take your melatonin supplement one to two hours before you plan to go to bed.
How to Help Melatonin Take Effect
Some people will feel melatonin’s effects no matter what they do before bed. However, to optimize how fast melatonin works, you should optimize your sleeping conditions. Take the following steps to help your melatonin supplement do its job:
- Stop using your phone, TV, or computer 1-2 hours before bed. The blue light from your electronic devices can negate melatonin production, thus making your melatonin supplement less effective.
- Turn off bright lights. Strong overhead lights can also hinder the effects of your melatonin production. Opt for low lights from lamps before you go to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool. Sleeping in a colder environment promotes better sleep and helps you fall asleep faster. Combine this with darkness and your melatonin supplement, and you’ll fall asleep without a problem.
How Long Does Melatonin Last?
Melatonin will be in your body for anywhere from four to 10 hours.
The human body eliminates most drugs in about four to five half-lives (the amount of time it takes to metabolize half the dose of medication). Melatonin has a half-life of one to two hours. However, even if your melatonin wears off after you fall asleep, your brain will still produce its own melatonin to keep you asleep through the night.
Try Melatonin For Yourself
Everyone will have a different experience with melatonin. Some can take a supplement and fall asleep quickly, while others will need to improve their sleep hygiene to ensure melatonin’s effects. The only way to know how your body will react to melatonin supplements is to try it for yourself.
Love to Sleep, Great Life Now’s natural sleep aid, is a safe and effective way to increase your melatonin and get better sleep. Our blend of all-natural ingredients is specifically designed to improve your sleep quality.
Check out our melatonin supplement and learn how it can help you rest easy.