Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. It also has some other benefits. 
The word “melatonin” comes from the Greek words “melas” meaning “black” and “toning” meaning “to stretch.” Melatonin is made by the pineal gland, which is located in the center of your brain. Melatonin production starts to increase at night, helping to induce drowsiness and regulate sleep patterns.
It also helps regulate other hormones in our body, such as thyroid hormones.
Melatonin can be considered an ideal nootropic because it can help promote general well-being and reduce anxiety levels. What’s more, Melatonin indirectly improves every area of your brain performance.
But, melatonin can also be a terrible choice when it comes to nootropics – depending on a number of factors which we’ll discuss below.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland. It is the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and syncs with circadian rhythms.
It’s been used for decades to treat insomnia, jet lag, and other sleep disorders. It’s also been used to help people with autism spectrum disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.
Melatonin can be synthesized artificially in a lab, but it is not as effective as the natural form of melatonin. There are many side effects to taking synthetic melatonin, including headaches, irritability, depression and anxiety.
So when we’re talking about supplemental melatonin, remember we’re talking about high-quality, naturally-sourced forms of melatonin that don’t mess with your holistic bodily chemistry.
What is a “Nootropic”?
Nootropics are drugs, supplements, or other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions.
Nootropics are also known as cognitive enhancers. They are used to improve memory, attention span and focus. Nootropics work by affecting the brain and its neurotransmitters. Nootropics can be helpful for people with ADHD or Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the most common nootropics include caffeine and modafinil.
However, even “melatonin” can be considered a nootropic, when you understand how it affects brain health long-term.
What are the Nootropic Effects and Benefits of Melatonin?
There are many nootropic benefits that melatonin provides. But three, in particular, stand out.
1. Improves Sleep
Melatonin supplements are the most popular and effective way to improve sleep quality. They help regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle by providing a natural form of sleep hormone. 
There are many benefits of using melatonin supplements as a sleeping aid such as:
- Improving sleep quality.
- Reducing insomnia symptoms.
- Promoting better daytime functioning.
- Decreasing daytime fatigue and improving mood.
Decreasing nighttime awakenings for parents with infants or children who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Okay, that sounds good… but you may ask, how does melatonin actually work as a “nootropic,” and not a sleep enhancer.
The answer is very simple. Sleep is the best legal performance enhancer known. And that is not an over-exaggeration.
Research has shown time and time again that sleep is vital to healthy brain function. It is a time when the brain consolidates memories and stores new information.
We have learned that sleep deprivation can lead to problems with concentration, memory, and learning. It can also lead to mood swings and depression.
Not to mention that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure, and develop diabetes. Which further diminishes your cognitive capacities.
Simply put, if you improve your sleep, you will be improving virtually all areas of your brain function. You could then say, that melatonin is arguably the best nootropic in existence.
2. Protects Neurons from Oxidative Stress
Brain cells, also called neurons, are responsible for sending messages to each other and regulating all of your mental functions.
However, they are particularly sensitive to toxins, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a process where oxygen molecules react with other molecules, resulting in cell damage and death. Oxidative stress can happen inside or outside of cells, but it is more likely to happen when there is too much exposure to free radicals (molecules that have an unpaired electron). Antioxidants can help protect neurons from oxidative stress by donating electrons to free radicals.
Melatonin is a hormone that also happens to have potent antioxidant properties. It protects neurons from oxidative stress by removing free radicals from your brain tissue and reducing inflammation in the brain. 
It also helps open up blood vessels in your brain that are constricted during stress or anxiety. Speaking of which…
3. Reduces Tension & Stress Hormones
We know that stress has a negative impact on our health. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. But there are ways to combat this. One of them is Melatonin.
Melatonin influences levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that is released when we are stressed out or anxious about something.  Cortisol can have both positive and negative effects on our bodies depending on what kind of stress we are experiencing or what type of situation we are in.
It’s common for people with insomnia to experience high levels of cortisol at night because their body doesn’t know what time it should be sleeping at. This is where melatonin can really prove useful. It not only enhances your sleep onset and quality directly, but it also reduces the stress hormones that are keeping you awake at the same time.
Optimal Melatonin Dosage as a Nootropic
The optimal dosage varies depending on your unique chemistry as well as your goals.
In general, it is recommended to take a dose of 0.3-5mg of melatonin at bedtime to have a better sleep quality and to reduce stress levels.
For jet lag, larger doses of 10mg have been shown to be more effective. That said, 3-5mg will be plenty for most people, and more often doesn’t yield extra benefits, but rather, increases the likelihood of feeling groggy in the morning.
Is Melatonin Safe to Supplement With?
Melatonin supplements are safe for people who have trouble sleeping or who need extra help with their sleep schedule.
However, they should only be used in small doses and for short periods of time. Not every night.
They can also interfere with other medications, so it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying them.
Melatonin supplements are often used to help people fall asleep. However, they can also be used as a natural nootropic for reducing anxiety and stress, as well as improving brain function long-term, as better sleep correlates with improved mental performance across the board.
Melatonin supplements are available over the counter in the form of pills or liquids, but there are also other forms like gels, patches, and lozenges. There are also some prescription medications that contain melatonin as an ingredient which you can talk to your doctor about if you have trouble sleeping due to another condition.
The most important tip I can give you is to not cheap out when buying melatonin supplements, as the quality really makes a difference. Naturally sourced melatonin is far more effective, less habit-forming, and better absorbed by your body than synthetic ones.
Have any questions unanswered? Don’t shy away from asking in the comments below!