What Is Melatonin? A Complete Guide on What Melatonin Does

In this blog, we will discuss what melatonin is and provide you with a complete guide as to what melatonin does in the body so you can help determine if melatonin is the right fit for your unique nutritional needs.

Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Or maybe you can fall asleep, but staying asleep is a challenge? I understand the struggle. Sometimes getting to sleep and staying asleep might not always be easy. That’s where a little extra help may be beneficial. Melatonin is a common supplement for many people seeking sleep support. In this blog, we’ll do a deep dive into what melatonin is and how it supports your body.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally secretes by the pineal gland and is best known for playing an important role in sleep. Melatonin is directly linked to our daylight and nighttime senses, but unfortunately, melatonin production declines with age.1

Your body produces the hormone melatonin, which plays an important role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin is connected to time of day. Natural production of melatonin increases when it's dark and decreases when it’s light.1‡ Unfortunately, as we get older, our ability to make melatonin declines due to various factors changing the pineal gland’s ability to make, store and release melatonin.2

Melatonin helps regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycles, also known as circadian rhythms. It may also help facilitate the onset of sleep, as well as promote sleep efficiency.1‡

Melatonin is one of those supplements that offers a wide range of dosages. Keep reading to determine which dosage might be a good idea to discuss with your healthcare provider. You’ll find that here at Pure Encapsulations®, we offer a variety of different dosages of Melatonin. For example, if Melatonin 0.5 mg is too little of a dose for you, but Melatonin 3 mg is too high, our Melatonin Liquid option provides 2.5 mg of Melatonin per 1 dropper to find the most comfortable dose for you.Let’s talk more about dosing options available with melatonin.

A Complete Guide to Melatonin Supplements

Currently, there’s no official recommended dosage for melatonin. Most people who decide to take melatonin for sleep support often choose a dosage between 1 and 5 milligrams about 30 minutes before bedtime.3 ‡

Healthcare professionals often encourage starting with a lower dose of melatonin, such as 1 mg or less, then increasing it, if needed. For many, lower doses may be just as effective as higher doses, though results are individual-specific. Multiple factors may influence how a person’s body responds to melatonin, including their age.4

Most of the research on melatonin and its effectiveness focusses adults. If you’re looking to use melatonin for sleep support with other age groups such as the elderly or children, we suggest speaking with your family’s healthcare provider to determine if melatonin would be a good fit for their nutritional needs.

Melatonin can be metabolized at different rates depending on the person. For this reason, we offer our Melatonin-SR. This sustained-release form of melatonin provides a more gradual release of melatonin into the body. For some, this may be a better option.

Now, you may see our options for Melatonin 20 and may be thinking, there’s a big difference between Melatonin 0.5 mg and 20 mg! So, let’s take a deeper look. In fact, Melatonin 20 is melatonin offered at 20 mg per serving and isn’t actually intended for sleep support. Instead, research supports it may be helpful in promoting cellular health in our tissues and its potential to positively support colon, breast, prostate and respiratory health.5‡

What Does Melatonin Do?

As we mentioned earlier, melatonin is a naturally secreted hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. This pineal gland is an essential component of your body’s endocrine system, or hormonal system.

While the functions and effects of melatonin have yet to be fully defined, ample research underscores its importance in synchronizing the body’s internal clocks, or circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms encompass physiological functions that fluctuate over a 24-hour period of time and respond to cyclic environmental cues, such as light and darkness.6

Melatonin Today
Most melatonin on the market today is made synthetically.6‡ That’s not to say there aren’t natural food sources of melatonin. Various foods can also be a rich source of melatonin, including fatty fish such as salmon, nuts like pistachios and almonds and even fruits and vegetables including cherries, Gogi berries, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes are rich sources of melatonin.7

We know Melatonin is well-known as the sleep hormone. This is because melatonin works with your body to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Taking melatonin two hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster and enhanced overall sleep quality.8‡

Sleep and Mood
Ever felt seasonally unmotivated, tired and just not quite yourself during the cold, winter months? Seasonal changes can sometimes have a marked impact on our overall mood. When seasonal mood changes occur, it may feel hard to stay peppy and positive. Science can explain why you may be feeling this way. Since our circadian rhythm is linked to light and dark cycles, it’s natural to feel a bit of a decline in your motivation and mood during these darker seasonal months. This type of shift in your mood is related to changes in the seasons and occurs each year around the same time, with symptoms typically appearing in late fall to early winter.10,11

Studies have found that changes in the body’s circadian rhythm were shown to contribute to seasonal mood swings, but whether supplementation with melatonin is effective at helping manage these mood changes remains unclear.10 More research is needed to determine melatonin’s true role in mood support during this seasonal time.

Melatonin and Immune Support
Scientific advances suggest that melatonin in larger dosages may play a role in cellular health. For example, research has examined the role of melatonin in supporting healthy cells and tissues, particularly promoting immune cell activity and scavenging those free radicals.12,13 Melatonin at larger doses such as 20 mg per serving has been found to potentially support colon, breast, prostate and lung tissue.5,14,15 ‡

Supplements to Support Sleep

At Pure Encapsulations®, we also offer a wide variety of different products in our Sleep health category to help naturally support a restful night’s sleep. Glycine and magnesium in our Sleep Solution may also help support muscle relaxation and a healthy sleep cycle.16 Sleep Solution also provides melatonin to help facilitate the onset of sleep and sleep efficiency.2,17‡

L-Theanine promotes relaxation and moderates occasional stress. Research indicates that l-theanine enhances alpha wave production in the brain, an indication of relaxation. Several studies indicate that l-theanine enhances alpha wave production in the occipital and parietal regions of the brain, an indicator of relaxation, without causing drowsiness.18,19‡

If you’re looking for more of an herbal formula for sleep support, the combination of the time-tested herbs valerian, passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm and hops, found in our Best-Rest Formula, may act to calm and relax the central nervous system. Plus, studies have found that valerian and lemon balm combined support the onset of sleep as well as healthy sleep quality.20‡

Last but not least, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an intermediate in the natural synthesis of the essential amino acid, tryptophan, to serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter responsible for emotion, appetite and sleep/wake cycles, this is because serotonin often is considered the “feel good” hormone, helping regulate your mood.21,22‡

Melatonin and Supporting Holistic Sleep and Wellness

With the vast array of health benefits melatonin offers, Pure Encapsulations® offers multiple different options and doses to help support your individualized wellness. Melatonin is produced by our bodies and plays a critical role in regulating our sleep and wake cycles. Not to mention, melatonin is generally well-tolerated at recommended doses and may offer additional immune support. Not that interested in melatonin? No problem! We have a vast array of products specifically indicated to support sleep. Check out our Sleep health category today!

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  3. Ferracioli-Oda E, et al. PLoS One.2013 May 17;8(5).
  4. Neubauer, D. N. (2023, August 22).. In R. Benca & J. G. Elmore (Eds.). UpToDate., Retrieved November 8, 2023, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pharmacotherapy-for-insomnia-in-adults
  5. Melatonin Dosage: How Much Melatonin Should You Take. (2021, May 28). Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/melatonin/melatonin-dosage-how-much-should-you-take#references-235887
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  8. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, May 7). Melatonin: What It Is & Function. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23411-melatonin
  9. Kurdi, M. et al. (2016). Indian Journal of Palliative Care22(3), 295. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1075.185039
  10. Magnusson, A. (2000). An overview of epidemiological studies on seasonal affective disorder. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica101(3), 176–184. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10721866/
  11. Desan, P. H., et al. (2001). Is Seasonal Affective Disorder a Disorder of Circadian Rhythms? CNS Spectrums6(6), 487–501. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1092852900008038
  12. Lewy, A. J. et al. (2006). The circadian basis of winter depression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences103(19), 7414–7419. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0602425103
  13. Ochoa JJ, et al.J Pineal Res. 2011 Nov;51(4):373-80.
  14. Chahbouni M, et al. Clin Biochem.2011 Jul;44(10-11):853-8.
  15. Cerea G, et al. Anticancer Res. 2003 Mar-Apr;23(2C):1951-4.
  16. Lissoni P, et al. Eur Urol. 1997;31(2):178-81.
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  22. Cleveland Clinic. (2022, March 18). Serotonin. Cleveland Clinic; Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22572-serotonin