What is melatonin?
Melatonin is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy at night and regulates your sleep cycle. It is produced by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness and can also be found in some foods.
What does a melatonin supplement do? – The benefits of melatonin
Melatonin supplements are used for treating circadian rhythm-related sleep disorders. They are safe for short-term use and the benefits of melatonin include treating the cases below:
- Jet lag
- Shift work disorder
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind
- Delayed sleep-wake phase sleep disorder
There are two types of melatonin supplements:
1. Synthetic: Made through chemical synthesis or fermentation.
2. Natural: Usually made from the pineal glands of animals such as cows. There are plant-based melatonin options on the market, too.
The type you choose will depend on your personal and dietary preferences.
Can I take melatonin while fasting?
Like most supplements, it’s OK to take melatonin during intermittent fasting. However, the lack of food may make absorption more difficult so it may be better to take melatonin on a full stomach, two hours before your bedtime.
You should be cautious about the form of your melatonin supplement if you intend to take your melatonin supplement while fasting. While the tablet form of melatonin will not break your fast, melatonin gummies will break your fast as they usually contain sweeteners or sugary flavors.
How much melatonin should I take? – Melatonin dosage
Because melatonin is considered a dietary supplement by the FDA, there is no official regulation for the recommended melatonin dosage for adults.
The safe and effective dosage range of melatonin supplements is 0.5–5 mg/day.
Generally speaking, if you’ve never taken a melatonin supplement before, starting with 1 mg/day and slowly increasing the dosage if required may be a good method. But it would be wise to consult a doctor before deciding on the best dose for you.
Who should not use melatonin supplements?
While being mostly safe, you should not use melatonin if you:
- are pregnant or breastfeeding,
- have autoimmune disorders,
- have depression.
People with diabetes and blood pressure problems should also consult their doctors if they’re considering taking melatonin.
Melatonin rich foods
If you’re facing sleep-related problems but don’t want to or can’t take tablets, here’s the good news: nature can also help us sleep better with its melatonin-rich foods.
You can add more of these foods to your diet in your eating window to increase your melatonin level in the most natural way:
- Tart cherries
- Goji berries
- Fatty fish
Note that it’s only OK to consume these foods during your eating window. If eaten during your fasting period, they will break your fast.
To sum up
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s sleep and wake cycles. Supplements containing melatonin work differently than sleeping pills and can be used safely as a sleep aid to promote restful sleep.
Nevertheless, treat a melatonin supplement as you would to any sleeping pill and use it under your doctor’s supervision.