Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone which is released from the pineal gland and is found in animals, plants and also in microorganisms. The levels of melatonin that circulate in the blood vary during different times of the day, thus, ensuring that the circadian rhythm of an individual is not disturbed. The circadian rhythm of a person is the internal 24 hour clock that dictates the time we sleep and also decides our patterns of staying awake. Not very surprisingly, the levels of this hormone are controlled by the amount of light and darkness in the surrounding. This hormone also acts as an antioxidant and aids the immune system as well. Thus, melatonin use includes treating various circadian rhythm disorders (certain types of insomnia), ADHD, ischemic damage, headaches, mood disorders, anxiety and panic attacks, cancer, etc. This hormone is available in the form of supplements that help in treating these conditions. However, what most people worry about is the dosage. As this drug is available over-the-counter, people tend to self prescribe this drug which often tends to backfire.
Some fruitful information about melatonin dosage can be obtained from clinical studies and practical experience with the supplement. For most patients, doses ranging from 0.3 to 5 mg once daily, usually in the evening, seem to work well. However, it is advised to first try melatonin at bedtime. Also, it has been said that its dosage in children must not surpass 3 mg. If you find that the supplement does not work quickly enough for you, you may try taking it earlier in the evening. The time of the day at which melatonin is taken plays a very important role as the effect of melatonin on the internal body clock differs as the day progresses.
There are many symptoms that will help a person realize that the dose of melatonin was wrong or on the higher side. The person will often complain of excessive drowsiness, tremors, confusion and difficulty concentrating. The person may even have painful headaches just after waking up along with general weakness. In severe cases, the person may even get a seizure and may have liver problems. Dizziness, irritability and speech problems, like slurred speech, all point towards excess of melatonin in the blood. If you happen to notice such symptoms, you must immediately contact your health care provider and completely stop the intake of melatonin.
There were studies done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology which claimed that the pills that are sold as supplements tend to contain three to ten times the required amount of melatonin. It has also been claimed that this finding is significant because an overdose can be counterproductive in nature.
At the end of the day all that can be said for sure is that the final dosage for a person taking melatonin, for sleep disturbances or for any other disorder, will vary according to the person and his requirements. Hence, the final dose is decided on the basis of trial and error. In any case, since there isn't enough evidence to guide a person in his choice of dosage, a good plan is to start with a reasonable dose and see how the body reacts to it. A maximum possible safe melatonin dose has not been established. Furthermore, it is important to read the instructions on the supplement, because the amount of melatonin per pill will vary depending on the manufacturers. However, since it is available without prescription in the United States, people tend to get confused about its proper dosage. Hence, it is best to visit a doctor who can decide the dosage that would be best for you.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.