Melatonin is becoming more and more popular as the number of Americans with sleeping disorders is on the rise. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain to signal the body to prepare for sleeping. It is produced in the pineal gland, and secreted by the brain around 9pm. Our bodies naturally product melatonin, but it is dependent on exposure to light. When it is light out, melatonin production slows, and when it is dark out, more melatonin is produced. For most of us who are awake during the day when it’s light out and asleep when it is dark out, both circadian rhythms and melatonin levels should be normal. However, for those who work night shift, not only are their circadian rhythms disrupted, but also melatonin production is decreased and disrupted as well.
Serotonin is the precursor for melatonin, meaning serotonin is processed to yield melatonin. Serotonin is the “feel-good” hormone that enables us to not only feel good, but to relax. Serotonin levels are high when exposure to light is high, and lower when there is less exposure to light, which helps to explain seasonal mood affective disorder. In terms of melatonin, when serotonin levels are low, melatonin production can be affected as well. Low levels of serotonin are typically found in those suffering with anxiety and depression, and naturally, they usually report trouble sleeping as well.
Melatonin production enables us to become sleepy and go to sleep. For those having trouble falling asleep, there are several things that you can try to boost melatonin production, and drift off to sleep more easily.
STOP USING GADGETS ONE HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME.
Looking at bright screens slows the production of melatonin and is also stimulating to the brain.
TURN OFF BRIGHT OVERHEAD LIGHTS
These also will slow the production of melatonin and keep you awake.
GET regular sun exposure to reduce melatonin production during the day
Be exposed to sunlight and bright light as much as you can during the day time. This means opening the blinds if you are inside, and making a point to get outside as much as possible.
KEEP YOUR ROOM DARK AT NIGHT TO INCREASE MELATONIN PRODUCTION
Consider black out shades if your room is not dark enough. Additionally, sleep without night lights or bathroom lights on throughout the night. Fall asleep with the lights off.
REMOVE EMFS FROM YOUR BEDROOM.
Turning off Wifi before bedtime is recommended. The pineal gland is likely to recognize EMFs as light. (1)
EMFs have also been shown to have the potential to turn normal cells into cancer cells, which I will cover in a later post.
AVOID CAFFEINE AFTER NOON
Caffeine intake affects energy levels and can increase energy even when melatonin is secreted.
SUPPLEMENTING WITH MELATONIN
Melatonin production slows as we age, which is why children typically do not have trouble falling asleep, but the elderly typically do have trouble getting to sleep. If you have tried all of the suggestions above and still have trouble falling asleep, consider melatonin supplementation. Start with 0.5mg 30 minutes before bed, and up to 3-5 mg is the maximum recommended dosage. I recommend this brand by Natural Factors, which also includes 5-HTP, an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin. Tranquil Factors also contains suntheanine, also known as the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to help with relaxation. While it is not recommended to take melatonin daily, it has been shown to help those having trouble falling asleep.
Sleep information from your genes is a part of the GxRenew report by Genetic Direction which is super interesting.
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Have you taken melatonin for restlessness before bed? What is your routine before going to sleep?
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