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Melatonin (chemical name: N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine) was discovered by understanding how amphibians and reptiles change the color of their skin, which was done by feeding tadpoles extract of pineal glands of cows in 1917.

In 1958, the hormone was isolated at Yale University to help treat skin diseases, and they named it melatonin.  However, it wasn't until 1995 that the first patent for a low dose sleep aid was granted to Richard Wurtman, at MIT.   Since then, there have been many findings on what melatonin can do for many different issues, but research focused mainly jet lag and insomnia.

Luckily, today we no longer use ground up cow pineal glands to get melatonin because it is man made in a lab.

melatonin chemical structure

Fig 1. Melatonin Chemical Structure

Table of Contents


Melatonin is a hormone produced by a small gland in our brains, called the pineal gland.   Melatonin controls sleep and wake cycles.  While tiny amounts of melatonin can found in foods we eat, the main source of extra melatonin is through supplementation via synthetic production in a lab.   It is mostly found in pill form, but  there are also forms that can be placed under the tongue for direct absorption.

Melatonin has dozens of uses, being the most popular insomnia treatment.

pineal gland sleep cycle

Fig 2. Sleep Cycle via Melatonin and Pineal gland

How it Works

The body has an internal clock that controls the natural cycle of sleeping and waking schedule by modulating how much melatonin the body actually makes.  In the evening, melatonin will start rising, then it will drop back down in the early morning.

Light manipulates how much melatonin is produced and when, so this is why some people suffer from winter depression.  This also explains why those who live in certain parts of the world are more depressed than people who live in warmer climates.

Unfortunately, the older a person gets, the less melatonin is produced, so older people definitely should consider supplementing with melatonin to make up this difference.

Other uses

There are many uses for melatonin aside from just insomnia, jet lag, and controlling our internal clock.

Studies have shown that it can also treat anxiety during surgery, tumors, low blood platelets, and prevent sunburn (topical form).

More research is needed, but it is considered helpful in depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, ADHD, fatigue, restless leg syndrome, IBS, nicotine withdrawal, and many more.


Lack of sleep is catastrophic for bodybuilders and athletes.  Sleep is the time when the muscles and body get repaired and recovered!  Furthermore, when a person doesn't get enough sleep, growth hormone and testosterone levels will drop, causing a domino effect of health problems.

Certain anabolic steroids such as trenbolone, halotestin, moderate doses of testosterone, and other hormones are known to cause insomnia for various reasons.  Melatonin will help the bodybuilder get to sleep at night, and get the necessary hours needed.  According to studies, on average, bodybuilders need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night in order to properly recover from heavy workouts.

Side Effects

Side effects can occur on melatonin when used at a high dosage, and unwanted sides like sleepiness will happen if you do not take it at the right time of the day.  Therefore, it is important not to drive or operate machinery when taking it.

Other possible sides are low body temperature, vivid dreams, morning grogginess, and blood pressure changes.   The good news is these are temporary, and will vanish once the supplement is stopped.
In addition,  you should not take it long term for insomnia, unless you have underlying medical issues that require such long term use.


The dosage of melatonin is tiny.   It comes mostly in capsule form, and for insomnia you take 1 milligram (mg) to 3mgs at bedtime, and it is important to take it at the right time for adults.  If children are going to be using melatonin, I recommend consulting a doctor first; typically, children with intellectual problems or autism will take a dose after sunset.

For jet lag, the dose is slightly higher; 1/2mg up to 5mg at bedtime the arrival day at your destination, and taken for the next few days.

For prevention of a cluster headache a hefty dose of 10mg is recommended to be taken in the evening.
For other ailments, please consult with a doctor as dosages will vary considerably.

Where to find it

Melatonin is not expensive, and it is sold at any vitamin shop or online store.  However, you may notice that fillers and other unnecessary ingredients are added, so it is important to choose a trusted supplement source.  Melatonin works best as part of a supplemental stack with GABA and 5-HTP, so I recommend a product called N2Sleep by N2BM.  It has 1mg of melatonin, and it also contains 6 additional ingredients that work in synergy to give you an incredible nights sleep.


Want to read about Melatonin on our forums? check out these threads:


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Steve Smi (Also known as Steve Smith), has over 12 years of experience in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. He's the co-Host of the popular Evolutionary Radio Podcast - over 500,000 listens! He has been a personal trainer and writer for the last 10 years with over 1000 articles written. He's been a moderator on forums for over 10 years. Steve holds the following certifications and records: NASM Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist Florida Local Powerlifting champion Top writer for 2019 Fitness rated

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