Melatonin: everything you need to know

CBD info

Melatonin is crucial to the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and disturbances in natural melatonin levels can quickly impede restful sleep, so understanding how this hormone works is essential. To find out what you need, keep reading.

What is melatonin?

Released by the pineal gland, melatonin is a natural hormone that tells our bodies when to wake up and when to sleep. For most of us, this process occurs without the need for any intervention. However, there are several factors that can disrupt melatonin production and cause problems getting restful sleep.

Fortunately, melatonin supplements are an effective way to “recharge” the body’s natural levels, but they do come with some drawbacks. Before we take a closer look at ways to boost melatonin levels (and whether you really need it), let’s dive into how our body regulates its sleep-wake cycle.

How does melatonin work in the human body?

Understanding melatonin production is great, but you’re probably wondering what that has to do with helping you fall asleep. Well, melatonin plays a key role in the body’s circadian rhythm.

Although it may sound complicated, the circadian rhythm is the technical term for the body’s internal clock. Think of it like a biological timer that tells your bodily systems when to wake up and when to sleep. However, your internal clock doesn’t work on its own, it uses light exposure to trigger the corresponding reaction.

In the case of melatonin, the pineal gland produces more of this substance when daylight begins to fall, to signal to our body that it is time to sleep. When the sun rises, melatonin levels drop to help get all of our bodily systems back on track.

melatonin production infographic

melatonin production infographic

Melatonin and light

This brings us to the problem most people suffer from: exposure to artificial light. Exposure to light (regardless of its source) is not necessarily harmful. After all, there will be times when we need to stay up late to finish a task.

However, regular exposure to artificial light can wreak havoc on our body’s circadian rhythm. Don’t forget that our bodies have evolved to rely on sunrise and sunset (the greatest source of natural light) to know when to sleep and when to wake up. If you are exposed to light late at night, the body gets confused, unnecessarily lowering melatonin levels when you should be sleeping.

Over time, the body becomes out of sync with day and night cycles, and low melatonin levels lead to sleep problems. If your body doesn’t know when to sleep or wake up, your chances of getting restful sleep are incredibly slim. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to reverse the damage simply by going to bed late and then taking a melatonin supplement: the body needs time to adjust and get back in sync.

A simple solution to this problem is obviously to avoid bright lights late at night. But we are not only referring to lamps and ceiling lights. Perhaps the worst is the blue light from electronic devices. In other words, your phone, computer, or tablet can easily disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Melatonin in the diet: What foods contain melatonin?

Melatonin supplements alone won’t repair the damage of a disturbed sleep pattern, but they can give your body a nudge in the right direction. And what better way to restore melatonin levels than with food! Yes, indeed, eating foods rich in melatonin can give your body’s natural levels a boost.

The benefits of the foods listed below are twofold. First of all, many of them contain vitamins and minerals that promote the transformation of serotonin into melatonin. Second, some are abundant sources of melatonin themselves.

Foods that may be beneficial for sleep include:

• Nuts and seeds
• Fish (fatty fish)
• Avocados
• Fortified cereals
• Valerian tea
• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Oat flakes/barley
• Chamomile

Also, if you want to prevent disruption of your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, try to avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol after noon.

How to use melatonin as a sleep supplement

Supplementation is a perfectly viable way to increase melatonin levels, but it is not a definitive solution. Instead, increasing melatonin levels through supplementation should always be part of a more comprehensive strategy to improve sleep quality.

Remember that melatonin is only one piece of the sleep puzzle: you need a balanced exposure to light and darkness to maintain a regular sleep pattern.

Different sleep problems

Based on our melatonin study, the key to determining if melatonin supplements are right for you is to identify the root cause of your sleep disturbances.

Irregular sleeping hours

The first factor to determine is the cause of your irregular sleep schedules. If it is a punctual external interruption, supplementation can help you get back to normal.

An excellent example of when short-term melatonin use can be beneficial is when it comes to jet lag. Travel between different time zones causes a sharp disruption of the circadian rhythm and can seriously impair the quality of sleep.

Taking a melatonin supplement a few hours before you go to bed can help get your body back on a proper sleep schedule. But you should know that this does not happen immediately. The general rule of thumb is that it takes one day to recover from jet lag for every hour difference.

Regular hours of sleep, but difficulty falling asleep

Irregular sleep patterns aside, we can focus on two other common sleep problems. The first of them is the difficulty in falling asleep. The key here is to focus on the early stages of sleep, when the body begins to relax.

To use melatonin effectively, consider taking your supplements in the late afternoon or early evening. We want to encourage the body’s natural shift into a resting state, so taking melatonin beforehand can help jump-start this process.

Regular hours of sleep, but difficulty staying asleep

If falling asleep isn’t a problem, but staying asleep is, then it’s important to change the timing of your melatonin intake. It is convenient that you take it about fifteen minutes before going to bed. This will help you keep your levels at their peak while you sleep and prevent them from dropping to the point where your body starts to wake up.

How to dose melatonin

Dosage is another important consideration, as different sleep problems may require slight variations. For example, with jet lag, about 0.5 mg of melatonin can help alleviate its effects.

However, if you are a person who sometimes has difficulty falling asleep and have not flown halfway around the world, you will need to slightly increase the dose to 1mg.

Remember that everyone’s sleep situation is different, so it’s important to take melatonin at your own pace. If you want to start with a lower dose first, that’s fine. Establishing good sleep hygiene is all about finding what works for you.

Fall Asleep (Meladol)

Is it safe to use melatonin as a sleep supplement?

The good news is that the continued consumption of melatonin does not generate any dependency or addiction. However, you should only take melatonin supplements as a short-term sleep aid. They are just designed to give your body a push in the right direction. To truly restore your circadian rhythm and enjoy restful sleep, you’ll need to address all facets of sleep hygiene.

What are the side effects of taking melatonin as a sleep supplement?

Despite the general safety of melatonin, there are some caveats about taking it. The effectiveness of melatonin does not diminish over time, but in some cases, frequent supplementation can begin to inhibit the body’s natural production. There is also a slight risk of side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness.

Lastly, melatonin supplements can interfere with certain anticonvulsants or birth control medications. Be sure to discuss your circumstances with a medical professional if you have any concerns about taking melatonin.

Are there other supplements that can promote better sleep?

There is no doubt that melatonin can be a valuable short-term aid in improving sleep quality. However, if you see that it doesn’t work or doesn’t suit your circumstances, don’t worry! There are many other natural aids that can promote restful sleep. We will not go into details in this article, but some interesting alternatives are:

• Valerian root
• Magnesium
• Lavender
• Passionflower

If your sleep problems fit into the categories listed above, then it’s likely that melatonin (or suitable alternatives) can help get your body back on track. Melatonin won’t completely fix sleep problems, but it can give you a boost while you take care of other aspects of sleep hygiene.

Interested in trying melatonin for yourself? Take it in combination with high-quality CBD, thanks to Meladol, Cibdol’s exclusive melatonin supplement. If you want to know more about the benefits of restful sleep and how to practice effective sleep hygiene, visit our CBD Encyclopedia for everything you need.


Does melatonin cause weight gain?
As part of a well-balanced diet, no, melatonin should not cause weight gain.
Does melatonin make it difficult to wake up?
If you take melatonin before bed, it won’t make it harder for you to wake up. However, if you take melatonin during the day, it can make you feel lethargic and tired.
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