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Last modified on January 6th, 2023
A common question people have is how long does melatonin stay in the system. If you use melatonin as a sleep aid, you may be curious to avoid any morning side effects, which is a common issue with anything taken to help you sleep. The following are key things to know about how long for melatonin to leave system and melatonin in general.
- Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone
- Melatonin is available as a sleep aid
- Depending on individual factors, the dosage, and the specific type of melatonin you take it, it can stay in your system for anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in our bodies. The primary role of melatonin is to regulate our circadian rhythms. Our pineal gland produces melatonin.
During the daytime, our eyes will absorb light. That then sends a signal to the pineal gland to stop the release of melatonin.
As the sun sets, there’s a decrease in light reaching our eyes, and that signals our pineal gland to produce more melatonin.
Some people use melatonin as an over-the-counter supplement that helps them fall asleep or stay asleep. There’s evidence melatonin may also help in the regulation of circadian rhythm disorders. People with circadian rhythm disorders may include people with dementia, night shift workers, people with jet lag, and people with visual impairments or blindness.
Melatonin has also been proven useful in certain situations to alleviate or reduce anxiety. There was a 2015 review that found melatonin helped reduce anxiety before and after surgery.
There is currently ongoing research that has found melatonin may help people with cancer. It may reduce symptoms of cancer itself or reduce side effects related to treatment.
Anyone with cancer should speak to their doctor before taking a supplement, including melatonin.
Overall, based on what we currently know, melatonin is considered a safe supplement, but you should talk to your doctor first. Some people may experience mild side effects related to melatonin use, such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue and headaches.
The FDA doesn’t regulate melatonin products or provide guidance on dosage or quality because it’s considered a supplement.
How Long Does Melatonin Stay in Your System?
So, how long does melatonin stay in the system?
There are a few reasons you might have this question.
One reason to wonder how long melatonin stays in your system might be if your problem relates more to waking up in the middle of the night. Some people don’t have trouble falling asleep but instead have problems when it comes to staying asleep. You might want to ensure you take the right dose and time your melatonin use properly in this case.
How long melatonin stays in your system varies, depending on different factors. One of those factors is the dose you take. Most adults take doses of anywhere from 0.1 to 10 mg of melatonin.
Melatonin has a half-life of one to two hours.
The half-life of any drug or supplement is a description of how long it takes your body to metabolize one-half a dose.
It takes anywhere from four to five half-lives for your body to fully eliminate a supplement like melatonin.
With that in mind, depending on the formulation, melatonin could stay in your system for anywhere from 4 to 10 hours.
If you took one mg of melatonin, it would stay in your system for a shorter period of time than if you were to take 10 mg.
There are extended-release versions of melatonin, in addition to regular melatonin.
Regular melatonin is designed to be released immediately as soon as you take it.
Extended melatonin gradually releases over time, which is actually more in line with how your body naturally produces melatonin throughout the night.
Extended-release versions of melatonin are also known as slow-release, time-release, and continuous release melatonin.
These may stay in your system longer.
In addition to the dosage and formulation affecting how long melatonin stay in your system, individual factors that play a role include:
- Your age
- Whether you consume caffeine
- Your overall health
- How big and heavy you are
- Other medications you might take
When Is the Best Time to Take Melatonin?
Along with “how long for melatonin to leave system,” many people also wonder when the best time to take it is for an optimal night’s sleep.
It can be best to take melatonin anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before you try to go to bed. Melatonin, for most people, starts working within 30 minutes of taking it.
Melatonin doesn’t force you to fall asleep, and that’s something important to note about taking it. It can help you fall asleep, but you need to be in a quiet, comfortable environment.
When you take melatonin, your body tends to absorb it pretty quickly, and the levels in your body will likely peak within one hour. At this time, you may start to feel tired. However, everyone metabolizes substances differently, including melatonin.
If you were to take immediate-release melatonin, it might help you fall asleep, while time-release melatonin could be a better option if your issue is staying asleep.
If you take melatonin too late in the night or too far after you would typically fall asleep, you could experience daytime sleepiness.
How Much Melatonin Should You Take?
Since melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA, it’s difficult to know how much to take. Your best resource for information is your doctor.
Melatonin supplements can be taken as drops, tablets, pills, and in gummy form.
If you’ve never taken melatonin before, you might start slow. Then, you can gradually increase your dose as you need to. You might start with a dose of anywhere from one to two milligrams.
Then, you can increase it by one to two milligrams at a time.
Don’t take any more than 10 milligrams of melatonin.
Final Thoughts—How Long Does Melatonin Stay in Your System?
Individual factors like your body weight can affect how long does melatonin stay in your system. Overall, with a half-life of an hour on average, melatonin can stay in your system for four to five hours. If you take a larger dose or use a time-release version, you might expect that melatonin can stay in your system up to ten hours.