The Magic of Microdosing Melatonin for Real Human Sleep
If I were to tell you there’s a simple, familiar, scientifically proven supplement you could take to cure your sleeping trouble overnight, but that most people use it wrong, would you believe me? What if I told you that the medical industry has largely ignored the science on this supplement for 20 years? What if I told you that supplement companies routinely overdose people in a way that only makes sleep worse? Would you be curious? If so, I can’t wait to tell you about the magic of microdosing melatonin.
Since 2019, we at Hibernate have preached the uncanny benefits of a daily microdose of melatonin. In our experience, it can cure insomnia and help you achieve the real natural sleep your body was designed to enjoy every night. In fact, it infuriates us that this practice isn’t widely known. The science is obvious. Thousands of people have found it a miracle. It’s time to blow the cover on this issue and shed light on this simple supplement that conventional wisdom has, astonishingly, gotten entirely wrong.
Understand Light, Understand Melatonin
First, a quick science lesson:
Long before they lit their first fire 2 million years ago, our ancestors’ lives intertwined with the cycles of the sun. Our brains evolved with a slow descent into darkness every evening. The sun falls. Twilight settles. And when our optic nerves register this shift to darkness, the pineal gland produces a tiny, tiny drop of melatonin.
That’s right: melatonin is completely natural. Your brain makes it. It’s found in virtually all plants and vertebrates.
But when this TINY drop of melatonin hits the bloodstream, it doesn’t make you fall asleep. No, melatonin isn’t a soporific like Ambien. Instead, it’s a signal. There are countless processes in the hormonal cascade that actually “manufacture” sleep, but melatonin is only their starting signal. It announces:
“Alright boys, it’s time for this brain to sleep! Get to work!”
Unfortunately, not all of our brains produce the same amount of melatonin - it’s a spectrum, much like height, IQ, or hair color. For some people, the signal is weak. For others, it’s strong. There are evolutionary reasons for this. In both cases, the signal gets weaker as we age, and this starts in our early 30s.
Even worse, our modern habits — or “sleep hygiene” — can wreak havoc on melatonin production.
Remember that our brain produces melatonin when our eyes register cyclical darkness? Well, if we shine light into our eyes, that process stops completely. In one study, Harvard researchers found that nighttime light exposure can delay melatonin production — and the start of your brain’s “hormonal sleep cascade”— by up to 3 hours.
Thus, most people who have troubling falling asleep aren’t diseased, broken, or have wonky brains. They’re just modern humans. They’re surrounded by electric light and mobile phones. They aren’t living like their ancestors. They never experience a slow descent to darkness, and their melatonin production is all screwed up.
The Science of Microdosing Melatonin
“Great!” you think. “I’ll just take melatonin and start my hormonal sleep cascade!”
Not so fast.
Remember that melatonin is a signal. It’s not like alcohol — the more you drink, the drunker you get. Instead, it’s like an alarm bell that starts happy hour. The bell rings, and you start pouring wine. Good times ensue.
But what happens if that bell keeps ringing…all through happy hour? Annoying, no? Every time you go to take a sip, that bell goes off in your ear. Frustrating.
That’s what happens if you take too much melatonin. Your brain only needs a tiny drop. But if you take more, the excess hangs around in your bloodstream. Then, every hour or so, another tiny drop enters your brain and that starting bell goes off again:
“Alright boys, it’s nighttime! Get to work!”
Then…your hormonal sleep cascade starts over entirely. All of those happy-hour commandos pour out their beer, then trudge, grumbling, back up to the bar.
This is why so many melatonin users report crazy dreams. Every time a new drop of melatonin docks with its receptor, it kicks us back into that first stage of shallow sleep where we’re half-awake…even if we’ve already passed through it. This is also why heavy melatonin users rarely feel rested the next day: their brains never get the chance to enter deep, slow-wave sleep.
Luckily, there’s a perfect dose that will kickstart the hormonal sleep cascade. This microdose will quickly run dry, then let your brain fall into deeper and deeper sleep throughout the night.
What’s the Perfect Dose?
Don’t get confused.
Your local drugstore shelf will have 1mg, 3mg, and even horrific 10mg doses of melatonin. Yes, that’s 3X, 10X, and 33X more than your brain needs! If you take a standard 3mg dose, that means 10 times throughout the night, that little melatonin bell will ring like a maniac and kick you into shallow sleep. If you take a 10mg dose, the melatonin signal will go off…all day long…even after you wake up!
How do we know that 0.2-0.3mg is the perfect dose? For starters, researchers have proven this over and over again:
- Elderly people taking 0.3mg sleep better and have less side effects than those taking 3mg
- Dose-response effects plateau at 0.3mg
- Doses of 0.3mg to 0.5mg cause blood Melatonin levels most similar to those seen in healthy young people
The problem with larger doses is this: the effects are confusing. The first night you take a gigantic 5mg dose, it will probably knock you out. You’ll stay in shallow sleep all night. You’ll feel like warmed over death the next day. BUT…you'll “fall” asleep.
Unfortunately, this megadose overwhelms your melatonin receptors and you quickly develop a tolerance. The second night, it doesn’t work as well. The third night, it probably won’t work at all, your brain produces less natural melatonin, and now your hormonal sleep cascade is even more screwed up than ever. (Kind of like how taking anabolic steroids makes your balls shrivel up.)
A microdose, however, closely mimics the natural melatonin spikes we see in healthy brains. That’s the effect we want to achieve: the normal function of a healthy brain as the sun sets and darkness descends.
This isn’t new science, folks. MIT researchers figured this out conclusively in 2005. Honestly, however, we don’t 100% trust researchers. “Cutting edge” science has failed us enough in the last century. We don’t consider this science “settled” until we’ve seen how it works for human beings in the real world.
Luckily, the results speak for themselves.
Real Human, Real Results
These days, a handful of sleep aids do offer the correct dose of melatonin. Yet, Hibernate Sleep Formula was the first to offer a meticulously optimized 0.25mg microdose of melatonin, and thousands of happy customers later, the conclusions are in:
I have tried other night time supplements, but this one seems to have the right amounts for my body. I will be a repeat customer. - Mark
Used to avoid supplements with melatonin because it made it harder to wake up, but Hibernate has the perfect amount - Chad
I love using this product. I notice that there is a definite difference on the days that I am unable to take it the night prior. I have used multiple sleep aids in the past due to the fact that I have trouble staying asleep during the night. With Hibernate I am able to sleep soundly and wake up alert and ready to tackle the day. I would highly recommend this product to anyone that is looking for something to help them achieve more restful, deep sleep. - Daniel C.
i've tried a couple of other products, but hibernate is by far the best sleep aid i've tried and i plan on using it for years to come. - Alan G.
Getting great nights rest now, I was on Ambien and Xanax for over 2 years after my daughter passed. Now I’m only using Hibernate, thank you for a wonderful product. - Julianne
Why do Doctors and Supplement Companies Still Get This Wrong?
This is the zaniest, and perhaps most infuriating question. If the research says <0.3mg is best, and more is harmful, why do supplement companies sell 10mg doses? Why do our venerable doctors still recommend stupid amounts? Why does Johns Hopkins Medicine continue doling out bad melatonin advice?
There are two answers, as far as I can tell.
The first answer is that many doctors still follow the oldest, stodgiest, most out-of-date research possible. When melatonin became a hot commodity in the 1990s, poorly understood studies like this one became touchstones. They found that massive dosages of 3mg or 9mg showed some positive effect (for 1 day at least) in depressed, elderly insomniacs with Alzheimer’s Disease.
A decade passed before the science became clear. But in that time, an industry was born, and the rest is history. Even today, doctors can claim “evidence shows!” and lazily point to those old, out-of-date studies. It’s hard keeping up with research, after all. And once the scientists get stuck in their ways, it’s hard to get them out.
Case in point: in 2019, University of Chicago researchers conducted a vast clinical review of previous melatonin research. They scoured papers from 1946 to 2018. But…they ONLY studied dosages from 0.5mg to 10mg.
Are you kidding me?
The second answer is that many in the sleep-aid industry aren’t interested in giving you long-term solutions for healthy, natural sleep. Instead, they want you to experience the “knock out” effect of a melatonin megadose. You’ll stay in shallow sleep all night and have zany dreams. You’ll be groggier than drunken marmoset in the morning. BUT, when you talk about it later, you’ll tell people: “Man, it really knocked me out.”
Check the dose, folks. Your brain will thank you for it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to blindly follow these benighted grad students and shady sleep companies. They’re more interested in publishing papers or turning a quick buck than discovering actionable solutions for common folk like us.
Instead, since it’s remarkably safe (with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), and because it’s cheap and easy to find, you can try microdosing melatonin yourself.
DIY Microdosing Melatonin for Natural Sleep
Before they founded Hibernate, the company’s founders set out on a personal journey to cure their own insomnia. They talked to doctors and ancestral sleep experts. They consumed giant piles of research and tested solutions on themselves. When they found that no one sold the correct dose of melatonin, they made it for themselves. And it’s simple:
Step 1: Buy any standard OTC melatonin supplement that comes in circular 1mg tablets. Not capsules. Not gummies. Tablets — the kind that look like this:
(Photo by Ksenia Yakovleva on Unsplash)
Step 2: Buy any cheap drugstore pill-cutter. You can find them for less than $5, and they look like this:
Step 3: Cut the tablets into quarters, and voila!
Or, if you don’t want to go to all the trouble, we have a much easier, and much more effective solution.
Hibernate: the Original Microdose Melatonin Sleep Aid
With a perfectly calibrated microdose, and a man-sized mixture of ingredients your brain NEEDS to “manufacture” sleep, Hibernate was designed to be the perfect sleep aid for people who actually care about their health.
We refuse to take prescription drugs that cause “fake” sleep. (We’re looking at you, nonbenzodiazepines!)
We refuse to create a “knockout” pill that makes you fall asleep quickly but leaves you groggy and raccoon-eyed the next morning. (No thanks, L-tryptophan!)
We refuse to consume silly plant extracts that play no natural role in the hormonal sleep cascade. (Tart cherry extract? Wild jujube? What are we, dancing hippies?)
And lastly, we refuse…REFUSE…to give you more melatonin than your brain actually needs.
Because, we know that true sleep, natural sleep, the sleep your ancestors enjoyed, actually makes you feel amazing the next day. You never want more than one cup of coffee. You never yawn in the afternoon. You can train like a gladiator. Your joints don’t creak. You stay focused on your work.
And most importantly: it’s repeatable, every night, forever.
That’s the power of microdosing melatonin.
That’s the power of Hibernate.
We can’t blame the scientists and supplement companies for getting melatonin all wrong. The scientific process gave them clues, and we all benefit (even if they can’t get their story straight). In fact, we owe the researchers a huge debt of thanks.
However, we CAN blame anyone who doesn’t pay attention when twenty years of research and thousands of personal anecdotes line up. That’s the story with microdosing melatonin.
0.3mg or less.
If you’re someone who’s low on the spectrum of melatonin production, or melatonin sensitivity…
If you’re someone who’s otherwise healthy but has trouble sleeping…
If you’re someone who feels the heavy weight of modern-world stress when they lie down at night…
Then microdosing melatonin will almost certainly be a step in the right direction. Your brain doesn’t need nor want a flood of exogenous substances coursing through your bloodstream all night. It wants to sound the alarm once and only once: “It’s time to sleep!”
Then, it wants you to lie back and relax as your hormonal cascade deploys, and your brain does what it was designed to do.