How Long Does Melatonin Last?

Melatonin is a popular sleep aid that many people turn to when they experience difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. If you have ever wondered how long melatonin lasts and how it affects your sleep, you're not alone. 

Understanding Melatonin: The Sleep-Regulating Hormone

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in your brain. [1] It plays a crucial role in regulating your body's circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm [2] is responsible for controlling various bodily functions, including your sleep patterns.

When darkness sets in, your brain releases melatonin, [3] signaling to your body that it's time to sleep. This hormone helps you feel drowsy and ready for bed. On the other hand, exposure to light inhibits melatonin production, making you feel more awake and alert.

How Long Does Melatonin Last Depends On The Type

The duration of melatonin's effects can vary depending on several factors, including the dosage, formulation, and individual differences. Here's a breakdown of how long melatonin lasts in different scenarios:

1. Immediate-Release Melatonin

Immediate-release melatonin is the most common form available as an over-the-counter supplement. When you take immediate-release melatonin, it is quickly absorbed by your body, with melatonin beginning to work within 30 minutes in many cases. [4] Melatonin effects peak within 1-2 hours. [5] The half-life of melatonin, which is the time it takes for half of the dose to be eliminated from your body, is approximately 1-2 hours. This means that immediate-release melatonin typically lasts for about 4-8 hours. [6]

2. Extended-Release Melatonin

Extended-release melatonin, also known as slow-release or controlled-release melatonin, is formulated to gradually release melatonin over an extended period. This type of melatonin is often recommended for individuals who have difficulty staying asleep throughout the night. Extended-release melatonin has a longer duration of effects, typically lasting for about 8-10 hours. [7]

It's important to note that everyone's metabolism is different, and individual responses to melatonin can vary. Factors such as age, overall health, body composition, and other medications being taken can influence how long melatonin lasts in your system.

3. Melatonin And Gaba Combined

There's an argument for taking melatonin and GABA together, GABA is the precursor to melatonin and typically has a half life (reaches it's peak) of 5-7 hours. [8] As it helps your body produce it's own melatonin combining it with quick release melatonin can deliver extended results. GABA also has a calming effect making it good for stress related sleep disruption. [9]

Why It's Important To Know How Long Melatonin Lasts?

The main reason that you'd want to know depends on what types of sleep difficulties you're having. If you have problems getting to sleep or issues like jet lag that melatonin is commonly used for. Then quick release should be fine. This case would also be ideal for shift workers, another common use of the supplement. With findings demonstrating an average of 20-30 minutes extra sleep per night. [7]

However, if you struggle predominantly with distupted sleep, then having something that lasts for 5-7 hours is ultimately going to be more effective. 


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