Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Melatonin Experiment: My New Natural Sleep Aid

Optimum Nutrition's brand.
I've been working night shifts for many years now.  There is certainly a learning curve on how to get an appropriate amount of sleep when you have to fight sunlight, noisy kids, doors and cabinets slamming, etc. 
I was prescribed Ambien for a while and it seemed to work pretty well. This stuff comes in REAL handy if you are taking online classes while working a second job too.

I was warned of all the side effects and sometimes (begrudgingly) get cornered into recants of my past "weird" episodes while taking the drug.  Wifey thinks it is REAL funny to tell anyone who will listen about the goofy things I did or said when on Ambien. All the more reason to report that...

Melatonin works just as well and is ALL natural.  The same Emergency Room physician that prescribed me the Ambien had found Melatonin to work for her and she weaned herself off of her Ambien addiction.  Now, I wouldn't say I got ADDICTED to Ambien. I know what addiction feels like. I chewed Copenhagen for 15 years. Quitting that was TOUGH. I still think about it from time to time as a matter of fact and I've been off chew for probably ten years or so. With sleep medication, it is more of an addiction to want to fall asleep on demand. Anyway, I digress...

Three years of sleep...in a bag...
for a mere $26.
Melatonin is sold over-the-counter which means no prescription is necessary.  It is relatively cheap, comes in a tablet (no yucky flavor), and dissolves quickly (kinda too quickly).  I plugged the word "Melatonin" into my favorite deal website and waited for an alert email to tell me when it was on sale.

When I was finally alerted, I ordered 12 bottles (1200 tables) of Optimum Nutrition's label for $26 on Amazon. It arrived quickly and I always love that I didn't have to leave the house.

I began experimenting with the dosage. Each tablet is 3mg. I took one and waited...and waited.  The first time around I guess I was kinda comparing it to the Ambien. If you've never taken Ambien, you can tell when it starts to kick in with a feeling, at least for me, or maybe feeling a little tipsy (slightly drunk).

One tablet of Melatonin didn't produce that feeling but within 30 to 45 minutes I was noticeably tired.  Then I wondered if I was just tired because it was 45 minutes later into the night.

So the next night I took two 3mg tables.  Right around the 30 minutes mark, I noticed a drowsiness kick in as I was watching Season 3 of Lost.  Like that show isn't hard enough to follow (with all the time traveling back and forth) without nodding off thanks to Melatonin. Conclusion, two tables worked well.

Now, being the idiot that I am, a few nights later I tried four tablets. I figured "Hey, this is ALL natural. Not like it's gonna be BAD for me or anything." Sure enough, right around the 30-minute mark, the sledgehammer hit me (and right in the middle of a Lost episode, dangit!) I slept for ten hours straight, through the entire family getting up to go to school AND Wifey's return home with two toddlers (read: noisy).

She finally came into the bedroom to check on me and informed me I had been asleep for ten hours. I think I mumbled something and went back out for another two hours.  I finally drug myself out of bed and certainly felt whammied. Like a hard night out partying.

Conclusion: I'm 270 pounds, 6'3" and two tablets of 3mg Melatonin works just fine for me. If you're smaller than that, just stick with one tablet.  If you're broke and two days from payday, take four and by the time you wake up, you'll have enough money to order a pizza.

What do YOU use for a sleep aid?



  1. Both my wife and I have use melatonin for years. Get ours at wait*Mart. BTW, I used to use Copenhagen. Always had it in my mouth. I could drink, eat, and sing in the church choir with it in my mouth. That was ten times harder to quit than smoking.

  2. I loves my Melatonin. I have found, however, that I can't take it and then go to bed. I have to take it about 30 minutes prior, and let it kick in while I'm still up, watching TV or something. Works like a charm :-)

  3. My wife has tried this and said it had no effect. maybe I will get her to try again. Thanks OJD.

  4. @Dizzy Yes, chew is very hard to quit. I think its more potent than smoking since it sits right in your mouth. For me it was situational use, if I was working on my car, I wanted a dip. If I was working outside, I wanted a dip. Different activities seemed to "que" the desire. I used to know all the delivery routes and time near the house too so I knew what day I could go buy the freshest can. That was one expensive habit.

    @Crusty I agree with the 30 minute window. Same for me. Ambien took about ten minutes but made me a babbling idiot...and Wifey and kids won't let me forget it.

    @Rob See what dosage she was taking. My tablets are 3mg each. Two put me out pretty good. Four took me out WAY too long. Every dose though took about 30 minutes to kick in. I would watch something on our laptop until I feel aslepp.

  5. OJD, I also was on the Ambien for a long term period. I loved and hated it. During the week I would be able to get 6 hrs of very restful sleep each night and be ready for a full day. On the weekend I would sometimes sleep in and really enjoy it. Of course, the late night stunts I pulled were starting to catch up to me. I had developed the ability to stay awake while it. I would call friends, always women, and often not remember the call the next day when told about it. Luckily they knew what was going on and didn't hold it or anything I said against me. ;-)

    It was a complete bear to get off of.

    Now I also use the melatonin from GNC, the sub-lingual version 1mg. I usually start with about 4 and have similar results as you after 30 minutes.

    I don't sleep as well as I did on Ambien, but I get by at least.

  6. @Matt Man, you did have some fun, huh? For me, in case anyone reads this and is wondering about the side effects, here's a few of the stories I did, as they were told to me:

    Bulldozers. Appearantly I laid on my back on our couch with my arms stretched out in front of me as if I were driving. I then proceeded to tell everyone how my lips were as heavy as bulldozers.

    Free money. On one particular payday, I had several bills in my wallet. I emphasize HAD because at some point, with all six girls and wifey in the room, I opened my wallet and tossed all the money in the air. Needless to say, I had NO money the next day. I think it was a few hundred dollars.

    You're just weird. That's what Wifey tells me when talking about how I act while on Ambien. I don't feel like it but appearantly I appear different. I equate it to the feeling when you get drunk and you try to stand up straight and tell yourself that you're not drunk...but to the entire world it's obvious you're smashed.

    What I liked about Ambien is that I wouldn't wake up from all the noise in the house (phones, cabinets, doors, kids, dog) and I would get "restful" sleep. Before Ambien, every stupid little sound woke me up and I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep.

    I'm glad I was told about Melatonin. I could probably even drop down to one tablet per day. I'm just one of those dumb kinda guys that always figures "more is better."

  7. I take Natrol Melatonin, 3 mg with B6. The Vitamin B6 is to make you sleepy, so Natrol, with Vitamin B6 is best for sleep. If yours does not have B6, just buy the vitamin and take it along with the melatonin. I take mine and turn off the lights, brush my teeth, floss, turn off computer....all the shutting down for the night, put on nightgown and then go to bed. Often, I feel sleepy as I finish and head to bed. Practice good sleep hygiene and it helps the melatonin do its job.If CVS does not have the Natrol with B6, they will order it. They do for me.

    Some people have wild dreams with melatonin and refuse to take it.

  8. @PP. Thanks for stopping by so late (are you out of Melatonin? LoL.) Anyway, I didn't know that about B6. I have some in the house. I'll give it a try. Thanks!


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