How Melatonin Can Help You Sleep And Feel Better
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S.A. doesn’t get enough sleep1. Although it is a common problem, poor sleep can have severe consequences. A lack of sleep can deplete energy, lower productivity, and increase the risk of diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.
There can be a variety of reasons why you're not getting a quality night of sleep, but one crucial factor is a lack of melatonin.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a vital sleep hormone secreted by the pineal gland. Melatonin secretion is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by the light. Melatonin secretion is also dependent on light exposure during the day. It is the primary reason why people that work overnight have issues with their melatonin levels. Anyone with inadequate sunlight exposure during the day can also be affected by the disruption in their melatonin levels.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin works with your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) to help you fall asleep at night. However, melatonin itself won’t knock you out. It binds to receptors in the brain to let your body know that it is night-time so you can relax and fall asleep easier.
What Causes Low Levels of Melatonin?
Too much light at night (blue light), stress2, smoking3, inadequate exposure to light during the day4, and aging can impact melatonin production.
Here Are A Few Things You Can Do to Sleep Better:
- No heavy meals before bedtime.
- Avoid watching television, using cellphones, or a laptop at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
- Create a nightly routine such as reading a book, taking a warm shower, or meditating.
- It is best to avoid stimulants like caffeine and any other sugary drinks after 3 pm.
- Natural sleep aids can be a great addition to your sleep ritual. Aromatherapy oil or warm tea can induce sleep.
- Take a melatonin supplement 30 minutes before bedtime to help you fall asleep naturally5,6.
1. 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, February 18, 2016
3. Active smoking causes oxidative stress and decreases blood melatonin levels, 2005 Mar;21(1-2):21-6
4. Lack of exposure to natural light in the workspace is associated with physiological, sleep and depressive symptoms, 2015 Apr;32(3):368-75. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2014.982757. Epub 2014 Nov 26
6. Day-time melatonin administration: effects on core temperature and sleep onset latency, 1996 Sep;5(3):150-4