Are you struggling to fall asleep at night, and sleeping through the night is a foreign concept? Melatonin tablets are supposed to solve this problem and even combat jet lag. But can they really do that? Our team has examined the sleep hormone more closely and will now present our results to you.
Our melatonin tablet test 2021 provides you with all the information you need to know about the subject, so that you can then decide for yourself whether you want to try melatonin or not.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Melatonin Tablets: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for melatonin
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about melatonin answered in detail
The most important facts
- Melatonin tablets can help with sleep problems and jet lag symptoms. They are also said to provide relief from stomach problems and tinnitus.
- In itself, melatonin is a hormone produced by the body in the dark. It regulates the sleep-wake rhythm.
- Melatonin tablets should only be used for a maximum of 3 months because there are no long-term studies on risks and side effects.
The Best Melatonin Tablets: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for melatonin
Below we present the most important buying criteria that you should consider before purchasing melatonin tablets.
These features include the following:
Below we explain the respective criteria in detail so that you get a good overview.
Melatonin can be taken either in tablet or capsule form. There are also lozenges as an alternative, which you can simply let melt on your tongue.
The advantage of tablets and capsules is that they are tasteless and can be taken after brushing your teeth. In contrast, you don't need water for lozenges, and besides, the melatonin works faster here because it is absorbed through the mucous membrane of the mouth. Which form of intake is preferred, however, is subjective.
A common shortcoming of over-the-counter food supplements is the lack of monitoring by regulatory authorities. For this reason, some manufacturers publish laboratory analyses that check the product for microbiological purity, for example. If you do not find any information on laboratory analyses, it is advisable to ask the manufacturer.
Different dosages are possible for melatonin tablets. German suppliers offer 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 mg. We recommend starting with a low dose to test the effect on your own body. Because too high a dosage increases both the risk of side effects and you may still be sleepy the next day.
Mechanisms of action
Depending on the purpose of the melatonin tablets, different mechanisms of action are recommended. If the tablet is to solve sleep problems, we recommend those with the so-called time-releasing formula. The active ingredient is released gradually and should guarantee a restful sleep for the whole night.
For problems falling asleep, unretarded tablets are suitable. These release all the melatonin immediately after ingestion. This means that the entire effect is released at once, although this decreases overnight.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about melatonin answered in detail
This should help you decide whether the tablets are suitable for you or not.
What are melatonin tablets?
The hormone is produced by the pineal gland in the human diencephalon with the help of the messenger substance serotonin.
However, melatonin is only released when it is dark, such as in the evening hours, whereas daylight inhibits the production of the hormone. As a result, the melatonin level is about 12 times lower during the day than at night.
The body's preparation for sleep, i.e. the drop in body temperature and blood pressure, as well as the reduction in energy consumption, is a consequence of the release of melatonin. This is why the hormone is essential for a restful night (1).
How do melatonin tablets work?
Another study conducted in hospitals in France and Israel in 2007 found that the test subjects who took melatonin felt more rested and alert the next morning (3).
Especially in cases of insomnia, it can make sense to try a melatonin tablet. After all, it is a good alternative to stronger sleeping pills. However, melatonin should only be taken for a maximum of 3 months, although some manufacturers claim otherwise.
What side effects can occur?
- Stomach cramps
- Allergic reactions
If the tablets are taken at the wrong time, they can also disturb the day-night rhythm. Since melatonin causes drowsiness and also prolongs reaction time, the hormone should not be taken during the day.
However, melatonin is not considered a drug in Germany because it is available over-the-counter.
Therefore, manufacturers are not obliged to disclose risks or side effects. Furthermore, no long-term statements can be made about the latter, as there is still a lack of research in this regard.(4)
For whom are melatonin tablets useful?
- Shift workers: Frequent changes in working hours and regular night shifts can upset the natural biorhythm. Melatonin can help to bring the rhythm back on track and help you fall asleep.
- People with jet lag: After a journey with a large time difference, the jet lag symptoms can be reduced by melatonin tablets.
- Seniors: Ol der people produce less melatonin, which means they are more likely to suffer from sleep problems.(5)
In addition, the hormone is of course suitable for all people with temporary sleep problems. Only children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid melatonin.
Where can I buy melatonin tablets?
What types of melatonin tablets are there?
|pure, synthetic melatonin||exact dosage, some require a prescription|
|sour cherry extract||provides vitamins, most expensive|
|based on tryptophan||cheap, less well researched|
We will then describe the 3 variants in more detail.
Melatonin tablets with pure, synthetic melatonin
These contain a synthetically produced version of the hormone. The advantage of this is that the amount taken can be easily dosed, due to the exact indication of the active ingredient content. However, it is not available everywhere and in certain cases requires a prescription. In addition, there is no research on the long-term side effects of this melatonin tablet.
Melatonin tablets with soursop extract
Instead of a synthetically produced extract, some manufacturers use melatonin with sour cherry extract. In many cases, Montmorency sour cherry is used because it contains large amounts of melatonin by itself. There has already been research showing a correlation between sleep length and quality and the effect of the sour cherry extract.(6)
Nevertheless, there are far more studies on pure melatonin.
In general, this preparation is easily available and provides vitamins through the sour cherry, but the side effects are rather unclear, and this is the most expensive melatonin preparation.
Melatonin tablets based on tryptophan
The precursor of melatonin is the amino acid L-tryptophan, which cannot be produced by the body itself but can be obtained from food. Studies show that this preparation shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and can also help with sleep disorders.(7)
The advantages of this product are that it is available in a wide range and is cheap to buy. Disadvantages are that the preparation is not yet so well researched, the exact dosage is difficult and also side effects are not yet clear.
What are the alternatives to melatonin tablets?
- CBD oil (8)
- Valerian (9)
- Hops (10)
There are also certain "natural" methods to get a better night's sleep.
|lots of light during the day||increases sleep quality at night|
|no alcohol/coffee in the evening||alcohol reduces REM sleep phases, coffee reduces sleep efficiency|
|sleeping in dark rooms||increases likelihood of restful sleep|
|stress reduction||stress reduces sleep quality, relaxation exercises before going to sleep can help|
Nevertheless, it must be said that every body reacts a little differently. That's why we recommend you simply try out what works best for you to get your restful sleep back.
Image source: Popov/ 123rf.com
Tordjman, S., Chokron, S., Delorme, R., Charrier, A., Bellissant, E., Jaafari, N., & Fougerou, C. (2017). Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits. Current neuropharmacology, 15(3), 434–443. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X14666161228122115
E. Ferracioli-Oda, A. Qawasmi, & MH Bloch (2013). Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. Plos One, 8(5), 1-6.
P. Lemoine, T. Nir, M. Laudon, & N. Zisapel (2007). Prolonged‐release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects. Journal of Sleep Research,16(4), 372-380.
LPH Andersen, I. Gögenur, J. Rosenberg, & RJ Reiter (2016) The Safety of Melatonin in Humans. Clinical Drug Investigation, 36, 169-175.
KK Gulia, & VM Kumar (2018). Sleep disorders in the elderly: a growing challenge. Psychogeriatrics, 18(3), 155-156.
G. Howatson, PG Bell, J. Tallent, B. Middleton, MP McHugh, J. Ellis. (2012). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European Journal of Nutrition, 51, 909-916.
E. Hartmann, & CL Spinweber (1979). Sleep induced by L-tryptophan. Effect of dosages within the normal dietary intake. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 167(8), 479-499.
S. Shannon, N. Lewis, H. Lee, & S. Hughes, (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, 23, 18-41.
S. Bent, A. Padula, D. Moore, M. Patterson, & W. Mehling (2006). Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Medicine, 119(12), 1005-1012.
L. Franco, C. Sánchez, R. Bravo, A. Rodriguez, C. Barriga, & JC Juánez (2012). The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 99(2), 133-139.