New research shows melatonin supplements work best when you take them within an hour of bedtime.
Study author José Cipolla-Neto, MD, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and his team found that melatonin has the biggest effect if you take it at your dim light melatonin onset (DLMO), the point at which your body normally starts producing the hormone. DLMO typically occurs 45 to 60 minutes before your usual bedtime.
You also need to take the supplement regularly rather than sporadically—like when dealing with jet lag or during a particularly stressful week—for it to actually help you sleep, Cipolla-Neto adds.
Taking melatonin about 45 minutes to an hour pre-sleep and at the same time every night will make its effects stronger. To keep that schedule, it’s important to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day, even on the weekends, he says.