How 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.
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:
- Jet lag
- Night shift workers
- 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.