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SOME ADDITIONAL REFERENCES
Melatonin, a hormone your brain produces when it senses darkness1, helps regulate when you feel drowsy at night. You can also purchase melatonin as a dietary supplement in the United States. Supplemental melatonin comes in many forms, including tablets, liquids, patches, gummies, and sprays.
Most people take melatonin on a short-term basis3 to relieve temporary sleep issues, such as those caused by jet lag. Melatonin can also help some people, such as shift workers or those with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, reset their internal body clocks to get better sleep. While melatonin is primarily known as the sleep hormone, it may serve other important functions beyond regulating sleep. For example, it may help relieve anxiety prior to surgery.
Melatonin can be a safe short-term solution for sleep problems, as it is generally well tolerated without causing the side effects4 common to most prescription sleep medications. Studies show it can help you fall asleep faster, increase your total sleep time, and improve sleep quality overall.
Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers it a dietary supplement, there are no official guidelines for melatonin dosage in the United States. A safe melatonin dosage is determined based on your age, body weight, and personal sensitivity.
Melatonin Dosage for Adults
There is no official recommended melatonin dosage for adults, but a range of 1 to 5 milligrams5 generally appears to be effective. Adults can take melatonin a few hours before bed.
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Melatonin is a hormone made by your body that is linked to your sleep-wake cycle. It regulates sleep timing and helps you feel sleepy. Regular melatonin cycles start shortly after sundown and peak in the middle of the night. People may also take melatonin as a supplement if they struggle with getting adequate sleep per night due to medical conditions, shift work, frequent travel, or other issues.
Commonly touted as a natural sleep aid, melatonin supplements are available without a prescription, though it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before trying them for the first time. We discuss recommended dosage, timing, and additional factors to consider before taking melatonin supplements.
Melatonin Dosage by Age
Melatonin is not classed as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there are no official dosing recommendations. More research is needed to determine the optimal melatonin dose for different age groups and health conditions. However, initial studies have revealed some patterns.
For adults, melatonin doses between 0.3 milligrams and 12 milligrams have been used to treat a variety of sleep issues. Doses of melatonin between 1 milligram and 6 milligrams may be sufficient for improving sleep in older adults.
Both adults and older adults should try starting with the lowest possible amount of melatonin and slowly increasing as needed while being mindful of side effects. Most experts recommend limiting melatonin to short-term use.
Those Who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
There is not enough information available on the side effects of melatonin supplements to determine if pregnant or breastfeeding people can safely take these supplements. Those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid melatonin supplements unless directed by their physician. If you are struggling with sleep, ask your doctor for other ways to improve sleep during pregnancy.
Children and Adolescents
Melatonin may be safe to use short-term for most children and adolescents, but you should always talk to your pediatrician before giving your child melatonin for the first time. Dosage may range from 1 milligram to 5 milligrams taken up to an hour before bedtime, depending on the age of the child or teen. Children with certain health conditions may benefit from taking up to 10 milligrams of melatonin for sleep, under the guidance of a doctor.
Ultimately, more research needs to be done to ensure whether the benefits of melatonin for children outweigh the potential risks. There are concerns that melatonin might interfere with puberty. One research review found that while melatonin may help children fall asleep faster, it does not necessarily increase their total sleep time. The authors of this research review also point out that 50% of children experience better sleep with simple improvements in sleep habits.
Because melatonin supplements are not strictly regulated by the FDA, there may be variation between the label and the actual contents of melatonin supplements.
When Should You Take Melatonin?
Natural melatonin production in the body typically starts to increase 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. When taking melatonin to sleep better at night, most people find the best method is to take it within two hours of when they want to fall asleep. People who are taking melatonin for shift work or jet lag must calculate the best time of day to take these supplements in order to regulate their unique sleep-wake cycle.
Ensure that you will be able to sleep long enough for the melatonin to wear off when you wake up, and avoid driving or using heavy machinery within four to five hours of taking melatonin supplements.
Is it Safe to Take Melatonin with Alcohol?
Alcohol can disrupt your natural melatonin levels, so experts recommend against taking melatonin when drinking or when using other sleep medications.
There is limited evidence that melatonin might be helpful in recovering from alcohol use disorders due to the antioxidant effects of melatonin. However, more research needs to be done.
Can You Overdose on Melatonin?
Melatonin is generally considered safe for most people. However, it may result in unpleasant side effects especially at higher doses, when taken for longer periods of time, or when taken in combination with other drugs or medications. The most commonly reported side effects are mild and include:
- Considerations When Taking Melatonin
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new over-the-counter sleep aids. They can help you establish the correct dosage and timing based on various factors such as your weight, age, and other health conditions or medications you are currently taking. If you are not sure why you are having trouble sleeping, they may also be able to diagnose an underlying sleep disorder or health condition and work out a treatment plan. Improving sleep hygiene habits may also lead to better sleep.
Melatonin for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using melatonin without first consulting their doctor. There has not been sufficient research into the safety of melatonin among this population.
Melatonin Dosage for Older Adults
Melatonin levels naturally decline as a person ages6, disrupting the sleep-wake cycles for many older adults. As a result, older adults may have an increased sensitivity to melatonin.
In a meta-analysis of 16 studies, melatonin dosages between 0.1 and 50 milligrams per kilogram were administered to older adults aged 55 to 77 years old. In all of the studies, the melatonin levels remained higher among the older adults when compared to younger adults and stayed higher for a longer period of time — leading to increased daytime drowsiness. The more melatonin the person took, the more pronounced these effects.
As a result, researchers recommend older adults start with the lowest dose of melatonin possible. Lower doses may help older adults sleep better without disrupting their circadian rhythms and causing prolonged drowsiness.
Older adults with dementia should avoid melatonin, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Short-term use of melatonin in small doses appears to be well tolerated by most children, though parents should consult with their child’s doctor prior to administering melatonin. The effective dosage for children depends on the sleep issue they are experiencing. Typical dosages for treating insomnia in children start at 1 to 2 milligrams and increase based on age.
When children experience side effects from taking melatonin, they are usually mild and may include:
- Bedwetting more than usual
Medical professionals may recommend melatonin for children with conditions that affect their sleep, such as insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Several studies have shown melatonin supplements can significantly improve overall sleep times by 25 minutes to 48 minutes, on average, for children with these conditions.
However, there have not been enough studies of melatonin in children for experts to determine an official recommended dosage or any potential long-term safety risks. Since melatonin is a hormone, it’s possible that taking supplemental melatonin could affect other aspects of hormone development in children, but further research is needed.
If your child is having sleep problems, experts recommend consulting your doctor before giving them melatonin. Research indicates that for half of the cases8 where melatonin was used to treat pediatric insomnia, better sleep habits were just as effective at relieving the child’s sleep problems.
How Much Melatonin Should I Take?
It is best to start with the lowest recommended dosage of melatonin for your age. From there, you can gradually increase your dosage until you find a dose that helps you fall asleep without causing any side effects. Generally, a safe starting dose for adults is between 1 and 5 milligrams of melatonin. Older adults may find doses lower than 1 milligram to be effective. Children should not take melatonin unless recommended by a doctor.
Over-the-counter melatonin may come in standard amounts like 1 milligram, 3 milligrams, or 5 milligrams. You can use a pill-cutter to cut the tablets in half or quarters to create a smaller starting dose.
Melatonin is one of the most potent anti-aging hormones in your body. It can help you sleep better, regulate several antioxidant defense processes, and help suppress cancer growth. Additionally, melatonin has been shown to increase the growth rate of your cells.
Some people believe that taking melatonin can help fix jet lag and restore a person’s circadian rhythm. This is because melatonin has both antioxidant benefits and anti-inflammatory benefits. To get the most benefit from this supplement, you must take it at the right time concerning your shift work or daylight saving schedule. One study found that people who took 0.3 milligrams of melatonin had improved sleep efficiency, but those who took 5 milligrams experienced more significant improvements in sleep quality overall. There is some variability with how much effect each dose has on Sleep Efficiency; however, high doses are not recommended for everyone due to potential side effects such as grogginess and mood swings.
There are benefits to taking melatonin for sleep, but it should only be taken in small doses at bedtime. Taking a large quantity of melatonin at once may also reduce your semen quality and testosterone levels. I do not recommend using melatonin daily.
Do supplements have similar levels of adverse drug effects as taking a standard antibiotic or anti-seizure medication? Some studies suggest that 3 to 5mg taken in one go has no adverse side effects. However, higher dosages might harm fertility.
Some supplements may contain more melatonin than the label states. For example, a supplement could have up to 478 percent more melatonin than what is stated on the label. However, this does not mean that these products are unsafe; they can still be within safe thresholds. Melatonin has both contraceptive and testosterone-reducing effects. Therefore, it is recommended to take at most 1 milligram per day for several days unless you have been advised otherwise by your doctor or healthcare provider. It’s also important to remember that taking melatonin intermittently (for several days at a time) will not have any negative impacts on sperm quality or testosterone levels.
It is not recommended to take melatonin routinely. The dose should be no more than 0.3 mg at a time and should be taken every other day rather than every day. Dosage should not be extended until one has a good sleep even if you are not taking rest medication, blocking out blue light before bedtime is essential. An hour before bedtime is ideal, but blocking Blue Light throughout the day will also work.
The links above are affiliate links, so I receive a small commission every time you use them to purchase a product. The content contained in this video, and its accompanying description, is not intended to replace viewers’ relationships with their own medical practitioner. Always speak with your doctor regarding the content of this channel, and especially before using any products, services, or devices discussed on this channel or website.