Melatonin is a sleeping hormone produced at night by the pineal gland of the brain. Its primary role is to regulate our internal biological clock and synchronize our sleep-wake rhythms in response to the light captured by the retina during the day. Today melatonin is available as a human-made prescription or supplement. For people who suffer from sleep restrictions or altered sleeping patterns (e.g. shift work and jet lag), melatonin increases total sleep time (a sleep quality metric). Moreover, it reduces the daytime fatigue associated with jet lag. This treatment also improves sleep quality versus sleep latency in seniors with delaying sleep phase syndrome.
How effective is melatonin for anxiety?- Click below to know all about it from the experts.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the feeling of fear or danger that is constantly present in anticipation of specific events or situations. Anxious thoughts circling over and over can activate the increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn activates the nervous system. Living with anxiety means occasionally rehashing your thoughts in the middle of the night.
Anxiety is a major factor in insomnia since it activates the body when it should come to rest. Appropriate sleep routines can help tame certain anxiety disorders and promote a peaceful and restful night.
Medical imaging studies reveal that sleep deprivation significantly amplifies anticipatory activity in the amygdala, a brain section linked to processing fear and unpleasant experiences. In some areas of this emotional center of the brain, sleep deprivation triggered an increase in anticipation of more than 60 percent. An intensity that also appears to be correlated with a natural inclination to anxiety.
Fear is a fundamental cerebral mechanism shared by many species. This is not fundamentally negative and, on the contrary, serves to prepare us for dangerous situations. It is, therefore, a survival mechanism. But when this is exacerbated and turns into hyperactivity, it becomes harmful and is characterized by stress, even severe anxiety.
Melatonin for Anxiety
Today, melatonin is sold over the counter in drug and health supplement stores. Like other health products, it’s regulated by the FDA.
All the synthesis and analyses published since 2001 point to the efficacy of melatonin reduction in the time required to fall asleep (the latency time) in people with insomnia and sleep time improvement. The results are similar for people who take benzodiazepines (sleeping pills).
To investigate whether these effects can be replicated to anxiety, researchers tested the anxiolytic effectiveness of melatonin on the anxiety felt before surgical intervention. Results: “Melatonin seems as effective as benzodiazepines, powerful anxiolytics, without the side effects (drug dependence, memory loss, etc.),” concluded the international and independent experts from the prestigious Cochrane Foundation in 2015 after a meta-analysis involving 775 people.
The mechanism involved is not fully understood, but melatonin’s soporific effect already used to induce sleep is said to be the secret sauce.
Melatonin Dosage for Anxiety
How Much Melatonin Should I Take for Anxiety?
Two forms of melatonin are marketed:
- Immediate-release melatonin (standard form)
- Prolonged-release melatonin
Presumably, the first helps to fall asleep faster, and the second helps to stay asleep.
Immediate-release melatonin at a single dose of 5 to 12 mg one to two hours before surgery has shown to be effective on pre-surgical anxiety. This effect could be independent of the chronobiotic and soporific effect of the molecule.
What Dose of Melatonin for Sleep?
In case of insomnia, what dose of melatonin for adults?
- Regular melatonin: Take 1 mg to 5 mg 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime
- Prolonged-release melatonin: Take 2 mg, 1 to 2 hours before bedtime
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How Many Milligrams of Melatonin Is Unsafe?
Doses that fall 1 and 5 milligrams (mg) a day may result in seizures and similar children’s complications. For adults, the standard recommended dosage from studies is between 1 – 10 mg. Dosages in the 20-30-mg range could be harmful.
How Much Melatonin Is Too Much?
The optimal melatonin for anxiety dosage is not established, as it has varied a lot throughout the studies. Melatonin dose 20 mg may be safe for one person and unsafe for another person.
Also, deciding melatonin dosage by weight is not an accurate way to dose the medication. Studies have found that melatonin in low doses is the most effective way to promote sleep if you experience restlessness or insomnia. Recommended melatonin doses are from 0.5 mg up to 5 mg, which are adequate to promote sleep or treat jet lag.
Decide your optimal melatonin dose using the melatonin dosage calculator:
- Sleep latency: 0.3-5 mg every day one hour before sleep
- Jetlag: 1-5mg two days before the flight and two days after arrival
- Trouble staying asleep: 0.5 mg every day between 9 and 10 pm
Read all directions on the bottle’s label. That will inform you how many melatonin pills to take and how often. Call your doctor if you have questions about melatonin doses. Don’t take more than the directed dose.
How Much Melatonin Is Safe Per Day?
Melatonin is generally safe if you take the correct dosage—this is any amount between 0.3 mg and 5 mg. Emerging science shows that 0.5 mg melatonin dosage may be all that you need to rebalance your sleep cycle. Higher dosages of the hormonal medication can increase the severity of side effects such as headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Can Long-term Use of Melatonin Be Harmful?
Generally, melatonin for anxiety has a positive safety record, when taken orally, long term. But it’s a hormone and thus needs proper dosage and caution in usage. The wrong dosage can lead to daytime sleepiness and short-term depression.
Several melatonin side effects have also been reported, including headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, irritability, gastroenterological disorders, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
For people with epilepsy, asthma, suffering from mood, behavior, or personality disorders, or following drug treatment, the use of melatonin should be subject to medical advice.
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Learn how you can make the best use of melatonin and other therapies to treat and manage anxiety. At EZCare Clinic, we have comprehensive treatment plans that address the multifaceted nature of the condition. Walk into our San Francisco clinic any day of the week or schedule an appointment to get started.