Melatonin — What It Is and How It Works
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It affects many processes in your body, but the one most people know best is sleep. Melatonin signals to your body that it’s time to start winding down and relaxing in preparation for sleep. Essentially, the more melatonin in your body, the sleepier you feel. Your brain kicks up its production of melatonin when it gets dark, and continues to produce the hormone at a higher rate throughout the dark hours. When it gets light, your brain slows down the production of melatonin to help you wake up.
How Melatonin Works
Melatonin doesn’t actually put you to sleep. It’s much more subtle than that. It’s a vital part of regulating your
your body’s natural clock. In simple terms, it tells your body when it’s time to sleep, wake up, eat and perform other basic functions. Melatonin helps regulate your
body temperature, your
blood pressure, and the levels of
some hormones. Melatonin binds to certain neuroreceptors that help you relax and reduce nerve activity. It also seems to reduce levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel more alert and awake. It appears to be involved in helping your body repair itself, build new tissue, solidify memories and metabolize glucose.
Scientists aren’t sure exactly
melatonin is involved in all these things, or precisely what it does. They do know that people who have trouble falling and/or staying asleep often have low levels of melatonin, and that for many people, taking melatonin supplements helps them get to sleep sooner and stay asleep longer.
Who Melatonin Helps
Melatonin supplements are especially helpful for people with certain conditions or certain circumstances.
- They’re often recommended to help people
avoid jet lag
when they travel across time zones.
- Studies show that melatonin supplements can help people who have
delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, who have trouble falling asleep and waking up. It has been shown to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by more than 20 minutes, and can help people who need to shift their sleep times — for example, they often can’t fall asleep before midnight but need to get up for work at 6 a.m. in the morning.
- It’s useful for people who do
with night shifts, and may help them sleep longer and more deeply during the day.
- Melatonin may be especially helpful for older adults. Your body’s natural production slows down as you age, which may lead to poor sleep and sleep disturbances. Some
have shown that melatonin supplements may help older adults fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin supplements are considered safe, non-addictive, and non-toxic. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as dizziness, headaches and nausea. Melatonin supplements can also cause daytime sleepiness or grogginess, especially at higher doses. Melatonin also may interact with a variety of medications, including sleep aids, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants, diabetes medications and blood pressure medications. If you take any of those medications, you should discuss using melatonin with your doctor or a pharmacist.
Melatonin Dosage and Use
The recommended dosage of melatonin is between .5 and 3 milligrams daily, an hour or two before bedtime. Most practitioners recommend that you start with the lowest dose and gradually increase until you find the most effective dose for your needs.
How Cannabis Helps You Sleep
Cannabis has long had a reputation for putting you to sleep, and it’s one of the most commonly cited reasons for canna consumption. It’s also one of the most commonly used substances to help with sleep. In a
conducted by the makers of an alarm clock app, 14 percent of respondents said they use cannabis to help them relax before bed, second only to tea (21 percent) and melatonin (15 percent). Does cannabis really help you sleep, and why? Here’s what we know.
Cannabis and Sleep: What the Research Says
Let’s start with this statement from the intro to a recent
on the effects of cannabis on sleep:
“Current literature on the effect of cannabis use on sleep quality is mixed, and few studies have used objectively measured sleep measures or real-time sampling of cannabis use to examine this relationship.”
In other words, like just about every other area of cannabis research, there’s just not a lot of it available. What there is, though, suggests that whatever the mechanism, cannabis actually does live up to the hype. That study, by the way, found that middle-aged and older adults who reported cannabis use got more total hours of sleep on the nights that they consumed it. The sample size was small, but it does suggest avenues for more research.
of the research into cannabis and sleep delved into literature from the 1850s to the modern day. The key findings were that cannabis use can achieve the following:
- help some people fall asleep faster
- decrease how often they wake up after falling asleep
- increase slow-wave (or deep) sleep and decrease REM sleep
- reduce the use of pharmaceutical sleep aids
Why Cannabis Helps You Sleep
While cannabis — particularly THC — does seem to promote sleepiness, it’s not the only reason that a little bud before bed can help
improve your sleep. In fact, the various other benefits of flower almost certainly come into play here. For example, the following play a role:
- Anxiety can keep you awake at night. Cannabis helps
reduce anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Pain, chronic or acute, often hurts more at night, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
and reduction is one of the best supported medical uses for cannabis. When you hurt less, you’ll sleep better.
- Certain strains of cannabis
by enhancing the effects of serotonin, the calming hormone.
increases the body’s production of melatonin.
By reducing the factors that keep you awake and disturb your sleep, cannabis may help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply and stay asleep longer.
Dosing Cannabis for Sleep
Finding the right strain and dose to prepare you for sleep can be tricky. Many people turn to edibles, making them part of their bedtime routine. Since it can take an hour or more for you to feel the effects of cannabis in an edible, it’s recommended that you take it one to two hours before bedtime. And, as always with edibles, you should start low and go slow until you find your optimal dose.
Cannabis and Melatonin — Better Together?
It’s not unusual for people who have trouble sleeping to use both cannabis and melatonin supplements in their quest for a better night’s sleep. It’s one of the reasons that people often ask if it’s safe to mix melatonin and weed. The answer to that question is a qualified yes. You can safely take melatonin and cannabis together as long as you’re aware of the way they affect your body and each other. For example, the following factors are true:
- Cannabis increases your body’s production of melatonin, so you may not need to take as much to get the same effects.
- Melatonin may increase the amount of REM sleep time, and produce vivid dreams. Cannabis, on the other hand, reduces the amount of time spent in REM sleep, and often leaves people with no memorable dreams. Taking the two together may compensate for the difference, promoting a more optimal, restful sleep cycle.
*NEW* Lotis Night: Blueberry Dream
There are drawbacks to taking melatonin and cannabis separately. First, and most obviously, you have to remember to take two different things, often at different times. In addition, there’s a lot of variability in the quality of both melatonin supplements and cannabis edibles available on the market. The solution could be as simple as combining melatonin and cannabis in one easy-to-take product, an avenue that a few manufacturers, including Garden Remedies, are exploring.
Sleep the night away with Lotis’ new Blueberry Dream gummies, combining natural fruit ingredients with a curated selection of restful supplements and cannabinoids! This restorative indica recipe includes 3mg of melatonin in each gummy, as well as five-star THC, CBD, CBN, and CBC —a special combination selected to grant physical relief and deep rest whenever it’s needed most (see below for more cannabinoid info). Dreams really do come true with Lotis Night!
As always with edibles, you should start low and go slow, gradually increasing the dose each night until you get the effect you need to fall asleep and sleep soundly. And of course, in households with children, take special cautions with edibles, which children may mistake for candy.
If you have questions about using cannabis and melatonin for sleep, or want more info on our new Lotis Night gummies, talk to one of our experienced cannabis guides. They’ll be happy to help you make the best choices to support your wellness and sleep needs.