Can You Take Melatonin On An Empty Stomach?

Some people are able to fall asleep almost immediately, before sleeping through the night and waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Others need a little more help when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. They may even have sleep disorders, such as insomnia, that keep them from easily falling and staying asleep. For those having trouble, melatonin may be able to help.

Melatonin is a natural hormone created by the human brain as a response to darkness. It helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm. Being exposed to light slows down the production of melatonin, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Taking a melatonin dietary supplement can help some people fall asleep easier. However, melatonin may have some side effects and should generally be taken about an hour before bedtime, according to the Sleep Foundation. Some people may have an empty stomach or be hungry at that time. Can melatonin be taken on an empty stomach?

Melatonin is best taken on an empty stomach

Melatonin supplements come in pills, liquids, and chewables, according to WebMD. Unlike many other supplements, melatonin is best taken on a relatively empty stomach, or after a light meal, according to Keevs. The rate of absorption is greater when you aren't full from a meal, explains eMentalHealth. That is why it is better to wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to take melatonin (per HelloPharmacist). If you take melatonin right after dinner, it may take longer to fully integrate into your body and become less effective when it's time to go to sleep.

When melatonin is absorbed more easily, you may require a lower dosage. The supplement should be taken at the lowest possible dosage and only be increased as needed if you are not sleeping as well as you want, according to Cleveland Clinic. If your stomach is full, you may need to take more melatonin than would normally be necessary if you had an empty stomach and the melatonin could be more easily absorbed. 

However, modified-release melatonin tablets may be better taken with or after food, notes Medical News Today.