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Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally, but it can also be taken in the form of a supplement. This hormone is produced by your pineal gland, which is found in your brain. This part of your brain produces melatonin to help regulate your body’s natural cycle of sleeping and waking.
Without enough melatonin production, your body’s sleep cycle may get disrupted, leading to restlessness at night and tiredness during the day.
Taking melatonin supplements may help you get a better night’s sleep, especially if you practice other healthy nighttime habits as well.
Your brain’s pineal gland is hard-wired to produce more melatonin in response to darkness. As more of the hormone is produced, it signals to your brain and body that it’s time to go to sleep.
However, there are plenty of factors in modern life that can send mixed signals to your brain about waking and sleeping.
Once upon a time, when the sun went down, that was the end of the day. Aside from candles, people living a few centuries ago had little to no light once the sun had set, and that meant it was time to go to bed. This meant most people slept from sundown to sunrise – a very different schedule than you’re probably on today!
Chances are, your waking hours continue long after the sun has gone down, maybe even late into the night. However, this was not the norm for most of human history.
The invention of electricity changed the way that humans transition from being awake to going to bed. With artificial light, people could keep working, socializing, and carrying on with their lives when their grandparents might have already been asleep for several hours. This prompted a massive shift in society, and that shift got even bigger with the invention of the TV, the computer, and, finally, the smartphone.
Now, in 2021, you might find yourself staring at your phone for a half hour or so while in bed before rolling over to get some shut-eye. This might seem like a harmless habit, but it may disrupt your brain’s melatonin production.
The blue light that emanates from the screens on your devices signals to your brain that it’s time to be awake. When your body would normally be increasing its melatonin production, the blue light from your phone screen can disrupt the normal activity of your pineal gland.
This could explain why you may sometimes feel restless and have a hard time going to bed after staring at your phone or the TV for a long time.
So, is there a possible solution? There are several!
One helpful tip to potentially stop blue light from sabotaging your natural sleep cycle is taking melatonin supplements before bed.
Taking a high-quality melatonin supplement may help you to support better sleep by signaling to your brain that it’s time for bed.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you limit using electronic devices in the hours leading up to bedtime to decrease the sleep-disrupting effects of blue light coming from your electronic device. If you need to stay up for work or another important reason (Netflix doesn’t count!) you might want to try installing a blue-light filtering app on your devices or wearing blue light glasses if you can.
First, we feel strongly that it’s always important to consult your doctor before you introduce any new supplement into your nutritional regimen to ensure that it is right for you. Melatonin is no exception to this rule even, if it’s naturally occurring in the body!
Melatonin supplements can have interactions with some medications, and your doctor will be able to provide guidance that can help you determine whether melatonin fits in with any other medications that you take. The best way to figure out whether melatonin is right for you is to start by consulting your doctor, then carefully observe your body and mind’s response to the supplement.
To avoid running the risk of unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects, it’s best to stick with the lowest dose of melatonin that provides results.
Remember, however, that it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor regarding the dosages of supplements that you choose to take. Your doctor may also give you advice regarding the potential interactions between melatonin and other supplements and medications, as well as other ways to support your sleep.
If you are already taking melatonin supplements, there are plenty of other healthy habits you can include in your everyday routine to ensure that you get the best night’s sleep possible.
Below are just a few simple, helpful tips for creating a restful bedtime routine!
Practice winding down in the evening with intentional habits like meditation. Meditating before bed may help to settle your mind and help you relax. Meditating doesn’t have to be an inherently spiritual practice, either – instead, you can simply reflect on what you are grateful for in your life, on things that make you feel peaceful, centered, and relaxed, and on simple sensations like the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your lungs.
Save caffeine for the morning. Drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening can disrupt your sleep. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which can cause you to feel alert and focused, something that can be super helpful during the day. However, in the evening, you want to feel peaceful and relaxed! Coffee or other caffeinated drinks before bed may make you feel antsy and restless, and slow down your body’s natural melatonin production.
Create a separation between work and rest. If you struggle to put your work away in the evening, you might find yourself feeling anxious and wound up once it’s time for bed. It may be tough to start resting when your mind and body have just been working hard for hours – you’ve given yourself no time to wind down! If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, creating a better work-life balance may be a very beneficial start on your path to better rest.
We hope this article has provided some helpful info, but remember to consult with your healthcare provider for any questions about supplementing with melatonin and whether it’s a good choice for you. Sweet dreams!
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