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Melatonin's Effect on Skin and Hair (thelri.org)
338 points by apsec112 on March 10, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 128 comments

Effects of Melatonin in Age‐Related Macular Degeneration


"We conclude that the daily use of 3 mg melatonin seems to protect the retina and to delay macular degeneration. No significant side effects were observed."

For anyone taking Melatonin as a sleeping aid: The dosages it is being sold at are way too high. Recent studies point to 0.3 mg being the right amount for adults [1].

That dosage (taken over a period of several months every day at the same time) helped me get through a period of insomnia last summer, when basically all the other medications failed or had too strong side effects.

[1] http://news.mit.edu/2001/melatonin-1017

They do sell melatonin in correct dosages too, Sundown Naturals 300mcg is the one I use.

I even got a good effect from buying a bottle of these and splitting them in half.

I recall listening to a sleep specialist on a radio show one morning (how's that for citing my sources).

Apparently there are two different methodologies for administering Melatonin. One is to use a higher dose(1mg - 3mg) before sleep (~an hour) as a hypnotic. The other is to take a much lower dose, closer to the 0.3mg you suggested, roughly 4 - 6 hours before the desired bed time.

The latter is used for modifying the circadian rhythm , and fixing problems with sleep wake cycles.

I think the primary takeaway from that show was that people should discuss their sleep problems and treatment with a doctor that specializes in sleep. The treatments and science can be somewhat counter intuitive.

There was an article on this that was posted to HN last year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17632668

The only problem is that the suggest 3 mg a day to get the effects of the study.

Recent studies? That link is from 2001.

From my recollection the smaller doses as you suggest were always known to be better but they were patented in the US by the institution that found them so only larger 3mg style doses can legally be sold cheaply, hence why most of what you can easily buy is 3mg+.

And [1] explains why this is the case. In short: patents.

[1] https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-th...

“Many health food stores are now selling melatonin, to induce sleep and “prevent cancer.” They have taken some information out of context, and don’t realize how dangerous melatonin is. It makes the brain sluggish, causes the sex organs to shrink, and damages immunity by shrinking the thymus gland. It is the hormone of darkness and winter, and is produced in the pineal gland by any stress which increases adrenalin. Adequate sun light suppresses the formation of melatonin.” -Ray Peat, PhD

"In general, the direct actions of melatonin on the gonads and adnexa of mammals indicate it is an important agent for maintaining optimal reproductive physiology" - https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/14/4/7231

When I look at other papers in this space I do find some adverse responses in hamster nuts when given melatonin injections (but not when it is administered using an implant).

At this point I did not want to research the other claims in the quote anymore. Instead, perhaps I can ask you: Do you know of any solid research that backs these (frankly very strong and contrary to everything else I've read) claims? If not, why did you choose to say this?

He sure comes off as a quack.

"sluggish" "shrink" "damages immunity". lol.

I found this out by chance, because my mom had 0.1mg pills and I laughingly took a few thinking they were a placebo amount.

> administering melatonin prior to exposure to UV radiation increases cell survival and reduces oxidative damage. Topical melatonin applied to skin 15 minutes prior to exposure to UV radiation completely prevented skin redness (erythema) in a small randomized double-blind study of human subjects

This isn't necessarily good news. Sun burn is your body's way of reducing skin cancer. When your body detects too much exposure to sun, it kills the cells that are most likely to have suffered DNA damage. The soreness and inflammation are a result of that mechanism. Disabling that mechanism would cause skin cancer.

But maybe melatonin promotes DNA repair and thus the cells don't need to be killed. More research needed :-)

Are you saying this as a medical research professional or just spitballing? Because the article send to be straightforwardly claiming that melatonin is reducing oxidative damage, not just disabling the visible effects. One of the referenced sources is entitled, "Melatonin as a major skin protectant: from free radical scavenging to DNA damage repair," which seems to be saying that the "more research needed" has already been done, like 10 years ago.

Guilty as charged. I didn't read the references. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

Free radical damage is not the main mechanism of UV-induced DNA damage. The main mechanism is direct dimerization as the photo-excited electron relaxes.


It's hard to see how anything could prevent that other than sunscreen.

Think back to your high-school bio and chem; remember the whole idea of unpaired atoms or groups if atoms running around? That's a free radical. Remember that it takes energy to break chemical bonds? That's what UV does: provides the energy. The damage it causes is basically knocking random compounds and proteins apart. This leaves a random atom running around without an electron: a "free radical". Antioxidants donate an electron, thereby neutralizing the free radical. The real problem is when it does it to DNA; it can forcibly bond with it, and that's when you can get cancer. Which is why antioxidants are important.

Sunscreen turns UV light into heat topically, before it enters your cells.

Melanin, the body’s main pigment, turns UV light into heat inside the cells, but outside the nucleus. (The melanin is gathered into a shield-like collection of “melanosomes” which is “above” the nucleus relative to the outside of the body—like this: https://skincancer909.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/4K-sunh...) This has the same effect: the UV light never hits the DNA, and so never causes DNA damage.

Melatonin is known to recruit, or cause the production of, melanin within melanosomes. I’m not sure if this is the dynamic being discussed by the paper, though, or whether melatonin is more directly able to act in a similar capacity to melatonin exogenously. If it can, then the same explanation applies. (Does anyone know if pure melatonin powder looks black under a UV filter? That’d suggest it could act directly like melanin, despite its dissimilar chemical structure.)

This is what worries me about sunscreen. This is an entirely non scientific concern, but sunscreen is as much of a business as antiperspirant and shampoo, and both of those things disrupt normal endocrine rhythm, by definition.

Like even if the mechanism of action is perfectly sound, how does your body adjust with that over many years?

Tangentially I'm interested to know whether taking melatonin for long periods of time (years) reduces its effectiveness. I've been taking it for nearly a year but I've heard stories about how you need to keep increasing the dose to get the same effect.

I have chronic insomnia, I had it all my life. I used to use melatonin but yes over time it lost its effect and melatonin is not one of those drugs you can just take more to sleep. It has a very precise dosage and if you take more it doesn't make you more sleepy.

If you have chronic insomnia, you need to solve the root cause. In my case it is anxiety, and currently I'm trying to solve my anxiety and my sleep quality improves as a corrolary.

I take doxylamine succinate 5-10 mg about an hour before bed and find that it helps with sleep much more than melatonin, which only seemed to help with a very time-limited form of tiredness (it wore off and I'd wake up).

Still, even the antihistamine (sold as a sleep aid) can't do all the work when something big is going down the next day. Like a meeting with a big client requiring a lot of travel. A big stressor must be addressed.

In that case though, I find that writing 1000 to 2000 words about everything that could possibly go wrong gets me to the point where I can sleep like a baby. Precisely because I'm attaking the source of the anxiety. Most nights though it's easier just to do some basic organization and scheduling and take 1/3 of a little pill.

In the morning I do often take 50-100mg Jet Alert to blunt the fade-in. It's way easier to feel comfortable taking caffeine when fully rested.

An experiment in progress always, but at 9h average sleep (excluding waking times as recorded on FitBit) I managed to go 10 months between illness, as someone with an autoimmune condition (sjogrens). My previous record was 4 months. On top of that, no more depression. My subjective day ratings have gone through the roof. I have to laugh when I'm working with 10 hours of sleep and literally cannot find a single thing to be sour about in my entire life condition (the journaling template I use takes me through this). Plenty of problems, just more resources to work with. Sleep is worth the chase.

Edit: While I'm talking about anxiety, I have been testing L-theanine recently and so far it seems to lower the anxiety floor a little bit. There's nothing like getting your stressors sorted directly, but sometimes things are more complex than that, and if supplements can help, great.

Doxylamine succinate is a potent anticholinergic drug, as are (IIRC) all other OTC antihistamines that cause drowsiness. Long term use of such drugs have been linked to dementia later in life. I would at least read some of the literature and re-evaluate whether using drugs like this to sleep on a regular basis is worthwhile.

Already done. No dementia in family history, and the actual literature leaves much to be desired in terms of qualitative result.

By the way I discourage the use of the term "linked" in light conversation as it has recently and unfortunately become a socio-culturally appropriated term indicating proof of causality. That a linkage exists often means far less than most people think, and this could immediately impact their health-related decision-making for the worse.

I didn't read the paper since it first came out (1-2 years ago?), but I seem to recall a clear causal link was found?

I would really encourage you to review the study again. For example, the authors themselves acknowledged a lot of legitimate reader concerns with the inclusion of this statement:

"These observational studies have 4 important limitations. First, current anticholinergic use was ascertained at study entry and periodically during follow-up only by conducting a medication inventory. Second, these studies lacked information about the dose and duration of anticholinergic use. Third, these studies had short follow-up periods. This last point is important because the pathophysiological changes in the brains of patients with AD require several years to occur. Finally, these studies did not take into account that certain anticholinergics are used to manage insomnia and depression, prodromal conditions that can be seen in early but undiagnosed dementia, leading to protopathic bias."

I had other concerns as well, and these items alone are a pretty big deal. Like I said above, the _quality_ of the establishment of a "link" is really leaving much to be desired here. This is barely even legitimate science, where any kind of causality is concerned.


Thanks for taking the time to provide a summary - I will indeed take another look (I have hydroxyzine at night, so it's very relevant for me)

Something that I have not been able to get an answer to; could the long-term effects of regular antihistamine use be mitigated by supplementing with choline in the morning/daytime?

My initial thought would be probably not, because anticholinergic drugs work by blocking cholinergic receptors. No matter how much choline you eat, a blocked receptor is still blocked, until the drug lets go and gets broken down. That said, eating a few extra eggs in the morning probably wouldn't hurt. (Of course, this is not medical advice, because I'm not a doctor or a biological scientist of any sort.)

The writing idea is solid - thanks for sharing! You should try weighted blankets if you haven't already.

You are welcome. I have found that the presence of two cats, one on either side of my body, pinning me into bed, extends my nap time for the better. At nighttime though, a weighted blanket would probably be just the thing! I appreciate the recommendation.

Good that it worked for you. In fact purchasing it from the anti-allergic counter shelf used to be lot cheaper than buying it as a sleep medication.

I did not benefit from the few times I tried it. Its very potent, even 1/4th makes me super drowsy. However, under the surface my mind is alert. Its like being very drunk but trying furiously to concentrate through that drowning drunkenness. As a result, I did get sleep, but not remotely of the restful kind.

L-Theanine and writing on the other hand has been a big help. So lots of shared experiences.

I too suffered from insomnia regularly for most of my life (for at least 25+ years that I can remember) and just have managed to figure it out this past year. The major things for me have been light therapy in the morning, carefully watching my diet (certain foods cause mild digestive problems but this seems to really mess with my sleep), meditation and trying to control inflammation (again, partly through being very careful with my diet, partly by taking supplements and taking ibuprofin on rare occasion). The difference has been absolutely phenomenal. Your entire life changes for the better once you can sleep properly on a consistent basis. Glad to hear you have found something that is working for you.

What foods were causing you problems?

Dairy was the main culprit and I've cut back my consumption of wheat products significantly.

Melatonin works mildly well for me for a few days, but quickly stops working again, which is unfortunate. I will admit I also have some anxiety issues I need to work on.

For better or worse, a low dose of diphenhydramine hcl (12mg) has continued working for me for over a decade without needing to up the dose. My personal experience as far as habit forming goes: I only take it on work nights, and sleep just fine on weekends, or if I'm on vacation. My main issue with sleeping is the specific times I need to do it. If I'm able to sleep when I'm sleepy, and wake up when I'm not, then I don't need any medication. Unfortunately, that doesn't fit in with a typical work schedule.

The problem with is diphenhydramine is the increased Alzheimer's risk: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/common-anticholinergic-d...

Fascinating, thanks for that link. I had never heard of the "anticholinergic cognitive burden scale".


Well that's concerning. I brought up long-term use to my GP, and didn't seem too concerned, but asked me to switch to melatonin, which I tried for a while.

These studies are extremely difficult to make an informed decision on, thanks to nearly everything being "linked" to some disease. See: Red meat [1]

I need to wean off it though. Thankfully dementia doesn't run in my family.


Have you tried trazadone or mirtapine? I've had good results with trazadone, bu would wake up after 5-6 hours with adolescent-like erections and read that it can actually cause priapism; mirtazapine works wonderfully(also a very strong antihistamine at lower dosages) but it leaves me groggy for 24 hours.

On the subject of mirtazapine, I was like a zombie for the first week @15mg and ready to ditch it but the doc persuaded me to stick it out and sure enough the chronic drowsiness went away by the following week, leaving only the potent sleep induction that encouraged an increase to 30mg.

But this thread terrifies me now, finding it's also a dementia-inducer. Is there any literature I can review to either allay or justify the fear? Additional horrifying fact from same physician: Chronic benzo use also linked to dementia?

I used to react strongly to antihistamines, even weak ones, that are not supposed to induce sleep (levocetirizine would knock me off), but after mirtazapine I got a semi-permanent tolerance to other antihistamines sleep inducing properties -- so if other antihistamines cause dementia, I'd expect mirtazapine to do so as well.

It's also a pity because I used to feel quite well rested and clear headed the day after antihistamines.

Gauche to follow up on my own post but the mirtazapine-dementia link is strong in this study https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/two-types-of-dr... but rather weak, and correlative rather than causative if my reading of this study https://www.ehealthme.com/ds/mirtazapine/dementia/ is correct (in that roughly half of the demented patients were co-dosed with an antipsychotic, presumably to help manage the agitation that can accompany dementia) . So now I feel I really need someone much better versed in medicine to advise.


Lack of sleep is also terrible for your health in so many ways though, and is also associated with Alzheimers. Of course antihistamines decreases your sleep quality but if it helps you get through rough patches I think it's a good alternative.

Taking it every day for years though is probably not a good idea.

I have this exact same pattern, where the effectiveness lasts for 1-3 days then stops. This is regardless of whether the dosage is 10 mg or 1 mg (Ive never tried 0.3 mg because I never bothered to crush the pills and weigh). The reset period seems to be on the order of 4-8 weeks before its effective again.

I don't have specific knowledge to counter this, but am surprised. It implies that humans would need more melatonin over the course of their lives, yet they produce less and less as they age...

Well, old people do tend to start sleeping poorly...

(citation needed, just got up, not looking for one.)

To be honest I think lots of systems in the body are working less well over time?

Sorry I didn't mean it lost its effect over the years. As other answers say it makes me sleep for a few days and then it stops being effective and I try to increase the dose a little which doesn't help. Other drugs I used were Xanax and Ambien, but I dropped all of them for different reasons. Currently, I'm using Prozac.

what i have found is when i take 3mg of melatonin i sleep well. When i take more than 6mg of melatonin i get into deeper sleep and sleep less hours feeling refreshed as if i slept longer

I used to suffer from something similar, nothing and I mean nothing has helped me like a regular sleep schedule.

Curious if you've tried that?

What dosage were you taking? (Same goes to zdragnar.)

A while ago an article [1] was posted here [2] with focus on its effects on sleep. Might be useful as well.

[1]: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/E4cKD9iTWHaE7f3AJ/melatonin-... [2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17632668

Anectdotal: daily use of 3 mg every night for three years

Still works wonders

Same here.

It lost effectiveness after a few months for me. On top of that, it gives me very restless legs, to the point that it can actually be harder to fall asleep :/

Restless legs can be a sign of micro nutrient deficiencies.

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25827521

- https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02011191 (if you follow this to its completed paper it claims there are neurological effects of biotin supplementation in their study group).

I used to have that and read recently it can be related to an iron deficiency.

Restless legs is not yet a solved problem, but supplementation with either iron, niacin or both seems to help most suffers.

AFAIK, no clinical deficiency of either is observed (with iron it will be in your blood chemistry, with Niacin it would manifest as Pelagra if observed).

Do your own reading about them. Both iron and niacin can be overdosed.

From my experience, use only pure niacin (nicotinic acid), rather than nictoinamide or inositol forms (the latter apparently completely useless but still marketed). Also, avoid the time release forms. But ... this is the internet, I might as well be a dog. Do your own research. Woof.

Indeed melatonin supplementation causes tolerance development. The correct dose to avoid it is 0.3 mg [1].

Nevertheless I'm glad pharmacies sell pills with much higher dosage - you can just buy the 2-10mg pills, crush them and take the dose you need. I bet they would sell 0.3 mg pills for the same high price if they knew.

[1] https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-th...

This is melatonin, so it's not really dangerous, but you should be careful with breaking up pills that aren't supposed to be broken in two or more. The amount of active ingredient is not evenly distributed in the pills, so you're not really halving the dosage.

For some reason melatonin is sold i boxes of 30x2mg for $25, and you need a prescription. It's completely ludicrous. You're only allowed to bring a months worth across the border. It's illegal to order by mail. /rant

What a waste. You can buy premade 300mcg melatonin pills for $0.03/pill (Sundown Naturals on iHerb), so the time you spend measuring melatonin yourself is just wasted time.

Brilliant idea! And here I was buying the only 0.5mg I could find and breaking that in half.

Don't give away such valuable secret. One 3mg tablet lasts me a week!

I had no choice but to downvote for the greater good.

Would be nice if you could explain how am I wrong. For whatever greater good you mean as downvoting doesn't really change anything except multiplying hatred perhaps (I didn't downvote you back but I can hardly save you from being downvoted by others). If I said something stupid that can harm others and you want to save us you should probably be a little bit more informative.

This isn't true. Even if your experience is contrary to what I'm about to say.

Melatonin isn't more effective by increasing the dose. Especially past 3mg. The body doesn't register anything past 3mg. But you also need to keep in mind that the placebo effect is strong.

I'm wondering if people who need to increase doses of melatonin also drink caffeine, especially in afternoon or later.

Anecdotally, I am taking it for years and haven't noticed any reduced effectiveness. Effectiveness increased when I reduced the dose to 0.3 mg. and started taking it several hours before sleep. https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-th... is pretty much a required reading on melatonin, as well as https://www.gwern.net/Melatonin. Neither discuss tolerance at length unfortunately.

This is required reading for anybody taking or thinking about taking melatonin:


Gwern has some great info on melatonin - https://www.gwern.net/Melatonin

I take Natrol brand Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets, Strawberry flavor, 3mg, splitting them in half (for 1.5 mg) and put it under my tongue for sublingual absorption.

I once asked about melatonin in a health food shop and was told it’s illegal in the UK!

The seems odd in a country where (for example) you can buy codeine pills over-the-counter, so now I’m curious about why it was banned, considering it’s reported to have few side effects?

You can easily buy it on eBay. A USA company which has local dropshipping sells it, and manages to skirt the regulations.

My understanding is that it’s not sold over the counter (otc) is because it’s a hormone. The class of drugs isn’t available otc.

Also: I think many people use it in completely the wrong quantities and in the wrong way. I’ve heard of people in countries where it’s legal giving their kids 30mg to get them to sleep.. “it’s otc so it must be safe”. I don’t blame the NHS

When I moved to Berlin and found I couldn’t get paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin in the supermarkets, a local told me the “it’s otc so it must be safe” attitude had caused people to overdose on them.

People are strange everywhere.

It's not illegal as such, it just not licensed and no drug company has bothered to go through the process to get it licensed in the UK. You can get it on prescription in certain rare circumstances.

Apparently, it was previously available in health food shops (like Holland & Barrett), as in many other countries, but was banned around 1995 and is now considered a prescription-only medicine.

It’s a fairly recent change you could’ve gotten it from Amazon until a few months ago.

That said you can import them from outside of the UK since you can import any drug for personal use even without prescription.

“Any” seems incredibly implausible. Class A drugs have penalties for mere possession.

Drugs as those which are controlled under the Medicines Act not by the Misuse of Drugs Act. There is no limit on importing POM for self use, the violation only happens if you distribute them without a prescription.

Just in case it's not totally clear for anyone reading this - it is illegal in the UK to import drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, even if they are also licensed medicines.

The cynical answer is that sleep medications (and I mean the more highly scheduled varieties) are among the biggest pharmacological money spinners. Melatonin is cheap and unpatentable (although there was several attempts at melatonin mimetics, e.g. agomelatine). It's unfathomable that melatonin is available only on prescription (and has become increasingly hard to obtain). I think the toxicity is close to water... one would be more likely to gag on the number of pills necessary to O.D. and I'm not sure if there's even a single melatonin related death on record.

Weird, where are you that Melatonin is prescription only and difficult to obtain? I Can get it at any drug and grocery store I walk into in a variety of doses.

The UK.

I would not have guessed that. I imagine you could order it through amazon or a similar service?

Not through Amazon UK, but it’s possible to order from US-based suppliers who will ship to the UK, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Melatonin is now available from Chemists. You need to do a short online consultation but other than that it’s straight forward to buy

It’s not permitted to be sold by chemists in the UK. If so it would be an over-the-counter medicine.

Rather, it looks some online chemists skirt around the rules by having an “online doctor” issue you with a prescription. But the UK-based ones I found were very expensive and it is surely cheaper just to import from the US via eBay etc.

biovea.com ships it to the UK.

biovea are good

Note that the codeine you can buy OTC is very weak, and compounded with paracetamol (acetaminophen).

I know a lot of people who take melatonin to fall asleep. Trying to understand if that's good or bad here?

According to the article, you may be getting more hair and be less susceptible to sun damaged skin. What isn't clear is whether or not taking melatonin orally at typical dosage (300 mcg to 5 mg) will have those effects in humans. It seems that most of those human studies used topical application, and several of the animal studies used melatonin implants. Also, here is a quote from one of the references (Kleszczynski and Fischer, 2012):

> Regarding clinical application, exogenous melatonin should rather be used topically than orally, since orally administered melatonin appears in rather low levels in the blood due to prominent first-pass degradation in the liver, thus limiting skin access. Topical application might be meaningful, since melatonin can penetrate into the stratum corneum and build there a depot due to its distinct lipophilic chemical structure. Therefore, endogenous intracutaneous melatonin production, together with topically applied exogenous melatonin or metabolites can be expected to represent one of the most potent antioxidative defense systems against UV-induced skin aging.

>Melatonin administration has been found to increase hair growth in a variety of mammals

>In a randomized double-blind study of 40 women with hair loss, melatonin solution applied to the scalp increased hair growth significantly relative to placebo

Seems like a positive. The article is suggesting that by helping regulate the circadian rhythm, the use of melatonin can potentially: extend lifespan, prolong fertility, reduce cancer incidence, reduce obesity and insulin resistance, improve neurological recovery from brain injury, improve skin resistance to damage (such as from UV rays) and increase hair growth.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to affect male pattern hair loss.

> Unfortunately, this is unlikely to affect male pattern hair loss.


It's suspected that male pattern hair loss is a combination of genetics and testosterone. Melatonin will not impact your DNA or testosterone levels.

I have heard that the main questionmark is that typical doses are far larger than your body would normally produce, so you can't just assume it's "normal" or "natural".

But nobody has really identified harm yet.

Don’t see anything bad mentioned here.

TLDR: Animals with damaged pineal glands have trouble growing hair. Melatonin supplement helps reverse this. Topical melatonin reduces UV damage to the skin and can promote hair growth.

Nothing is bad in melatonin except the tolerance development. If I wasn't afraid of developing tolerance to endogenous melatonin I would take huge doses of it every evening.

I find small doses work better than huge doses anyhow.

I agree. Also, slow release can be similar to small doses in effect.

So you're saying it's pretty much a free lunch?

Not sure if it'll do anything for you but it surely is safe. My SO is taking 20mg per day for years (for glioma, not insomnia, it's way too high dose to work for insomnia). She had a break from it for few months during which her tumors started regrowing, might be coincidence.

Tolerance, vivid dreams, and anxiety in some.

It seems like a free lunch because we are starving ourselves for it. We need a lot more than we produce endogenously under artificial night lighting.

Question for people on melatonin. I tried 0.5 mg does, from cutting a 1 mg pill in half. Didn't have much effect.

Had a concussion three months ago and started taking 2 mg based on a post concussion study I read. this did markedly improve my sleep.

1. Did anyone experience a good effect only at higher doses

2. I'm doing much better day to day on this dosage, but I don't want to impair my own production. Do I need to go down to 0.3 mg, or can I cycle it etc?

It's really been life changing. Will ask my doctor the next time I'm in, of course.

I found no dose effect (weird, intuitively, I know). I ate a packet of gummy bears that, I didn't realize, turned out to be melatonin gummies! I think the packet had something like 15 mg. I was on a flight from china and had barely slept the night before (becuase of flight connections). I fell asleep for 2 hours and then I was awake for the flight. Conversely, I've taken 1.5mg and slept soundly.

As I understand it, Melatonin can be administered as a hypotic (taken in larger doses (1mg - 3mg) before bed), or it can be taken in smaller doses hours before bed to trigger the natural release of Melatonin and start the sleep cycle. (I mentioned this in another comment).

Oh, interesting. So 30 min or so before, 1-3 mg would be effective, but with a lower dose I should try 3-4 hours before bed or so?

Thanks! I'll try that and see what happens.

Yeah, you might have more success that way. I take 3mg right before bed and I find I fall asleep a lot faster than I do without it. Especially if I've been on a screen before bed or my brain just doesn't want to shut up.

if you're thinking about trying the option where you take it a few hours before bed time, make sure you're going to bed at a consistent target time (10pm for example). Since this method is more targeted at resetting your circadian rhythm.

If you feel like you have more serious sleep/wake problems I would definitely recommend seeing a specialist. I was surprised to learn that people who say things like "I can't go to sleep until x o'clock" or "I can't stay awake beyond x time" probably suffer from circadian rhythm problems that are treatable.. but the treatment isn't always as intuitive as you might think.

My grandfather lived to 94. Towards the end, the doctors had him on all sorts of schtuff. When he started his final decline in the last months, a hospice worker started coming a couple of times a week to check on him. Grandpa no longer wanted to hang around, ready to "see grandma again", he didn't want to take his medications. We finally relented when the hospice lady said that it was OK, so grandpa was allowed to stop taking his medications. Then something odd happened. Grandpa got better. Which really him. The hospice lady said that it was normal, and she'd seen that happen many times. Grandpa's recovery was shortlived though, mainly because he was hellbent on checking out, and he finally passed, in not too horrible a manner. He fell asleep, then fell into a deep unconscious state, then everything just shut down. In retrospect, I attribute his longevity, aside from genetic potential, to moderation, as well as getting moderate daily sunshine, fresh air, home cooking, walking, and having a reason to get out of bed every morning to attack the day. He had minimal immunizations, I'm sure the ones he got where of the highest quality (who the hell knows the quality control of modern mass produced overseas immunizations), he also took no supplements, and his exposure to the changes in mass produced food in recent decades, would have been minimal as most of his life had already passed. I'm in my late 40s, and virtually all of my friends have similar stories to tell. Our grandparents lived a long time. Our parents less so. And we're sure that our own lifespans will be even less. Pure lifespan aside, looking at the quality of life, it's even more dramatic. Grandpa and his friends did more at 60, then I did at 40. Parents did more at 50 then friends and I did at 40. Now it's common knowledge that 20 and 30 year olds are increasingly shocking doctors in trend-like fashion, with general poor health, and issues.

Wonder if people with more hair in later years tend to be sleepier.

Or if they get better sleep, actually more alert in afternoon/evenings.

I've been taking melatonin for the last 3 months since cutting out alcohol and it seemed to help with falling into a sleep. As Friday I stopped taking it because I don't want to be reliant on something for sleep other than exercise and proper diet. Anecdotally, my sleep the last three nights since cutting it out have been horribly restless and not fulfilling. I'd rather not take it but if after a week normal sleep doesn't return I might since it sounds like it's relatively benign compared to other sleep aids.

Are there any longitudinal studies about years of usage?

I have the same concerns and every doctor I ask tells me the study show no long term effects at all.

One explanation: I tend to take melatonin when I am very tired and didn't get enough sleep the previous night. But on those nights I sleep very well anyway. And once I have enough sleep I don't sleep as deeply the next night. Perhaps that is a lurking variable for me.

Do you have a fitbit or something to track the sleep?

Would crushing a melatonin pill and adding it to suncream work?

I take magnesium supplements to help with sleep. First read about it on Hacker News 6-12 months ago. Changed my life. My insomnia is not cured, but definitely much better and zero side effects. I tried many different sleeping pills, but they either made me too groggy the next morning or their efficacy lessened over time. Just Magnesium Citrate from Walgreens is what I use.

I take something called rozerem which is essentially a prescription melatonin. There is lots of debate if these really work.

Melatonin is available OAC in the US, hence some of the difference.

I know a few people who are eating bananas like crazy since they found out about it.


Bananas contain L-tryptophan. Your body converts L-tryptophan to melatonin (+ serotonin and vitamin B6).

Isn't that the same stuff that's in Turkey and 5-HTP?

L-tryptophan can be found in many types of food such as meat, nuts and eggs. The body converts it to 5-HTP, which in turn converts to serotonin (in the brain).

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