Different types affect the body similarly

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At the drugstore, you may be overwhelmed by the different brands and types of melatonin supplements. “Melatonin is available as tablets, capsules, gummies, chewable tablets, and even mouth sprays. I’m not aware that any form is better than another,” Walker says. But again, “since melatonin is sold as a supplement, it is not FDA-approved or monitored and there can be wide variation from one manufacturer to another,” he says. “Pick a reliable brand and stick to it if it seems to work for you.” Dr. Shane recommends Best Rest by Pure Encapsulations. “It contains melatonin and a combination of other sleep-inducing ingredients,” he says.

Long-term effects on the body are unknown

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Melatonin supplements are safe, but it’s still probably best to only take them until your sleep schedule is back on track. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, less is known about long-term safety. “Melatonin is considered safe to take for short-term use to help control disrupted sleep cycles for a few days, weeks or months,” Walker says. “Its overall effectiveness in long-term use is questionable.” Also, if melatonin doesn’t seem to be working for you, stop taking it. As always, talk to your doctor about any ongoing sleep problems you’re having in order to work out the best solution for you. Read about 17 strange things that can happen to your body while you sleep.

How to help your natural melatonin work

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Although supplements may help, there are also other (less costly) ways to boost your body’s natural melatonin. “You can increase melatonin production by getting exposure to sunlight in the morning and afternoon,” Dr. Shane says. “Blue light from your computer or phone interferes with the brain’s production of melatonin, so stop using computer and phone one hour before bedtime, and stay at least six feet away from your television screen.”

Dr. Lockley explains it might not be the level of melatonin itself that needs adjusting, as that varies between people, but rather the duration and timing of its release. “In the hours before sleep, we want to reduce the intensity and the blue-content to help the brain think it’s night and induce sleep,” he says. Turn lights low and follow a relaxing evening routine. In addition, Dr. Shane recommends a pre-bedtime snack of foods rich in melatonin, such as goji berries, walnuts, almonds, pineapple, bananas, and oranges. Next, find out 50 easy ways to sleep better.