How Fast Does Melatonin Work?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses how fast melatonin works after taking a dose by mouth.


How fast does Melatonin work?

Asked by Kel On May 17, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On May 18, 2018

Melatonin capsuleHow fast melatonin works after taking a dose by mouth varies based on several factors such as the dosage form used (e.g. capsules or tablets) and whether or not the product has an extended release mechanism.

Nevertheless, studies show that the average time to maximum blood concentrations after taking melatonin by mouth is around 50 minutes, although this can range anywhere from 15 minutes to 210 minutes. In general:

  • Sublingual and dissolving melatonin tablets work the fastest (~15 to 50 minutes)
  • Time/extended release products will take the longest to begin working (~45 minutes to 2.5 hours)

It is important to know that taking melatonin with food may reduce total absorption and delay how fast it works. In fact, the prescribing information for Circadin, a prescription melatonin product available in the UK, states that food delays the time it takes to reach maximum blood concentrations by over 2 hours.

As food affects melatonin absorption and will delay the time it takes to begin working, it is generally recommended to take your melatonin dose at night, about 1 to 2 hours before bedtime, without food.

About Melatonin

Melatonin (5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine) is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our bodies to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Studies show that supplementation with melatonin may help to regulate or fix sleep disturbances that occur with:

  • Insomnia
  • Jet lag
  • Night shift workers
  • Depression
  • Neurological disabilities

Most over the counter melatonin supplements are synthesized, with very few derived from animal (bovine) pineal glands. Using animal based melatonin products are not recommended due to the potential risk of infection or contamination.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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