You’ve probably heard that just about any issue you have can benefit from a good night’s rest. What may seem to be a bit of an ‘old wives’ tale,’ actually has some scientific grounding.
How Lack of Sleep Affects the Body
A survey from the CDC shows that 35% of Americans are getting less than the recommended amount of seven hours. The effects of this go far beyond feeling a bit grumpy the next day. Sleeping less than seven hours a day is associated with increased risk of developing chronic conditions like:
High Blood Pressure
The frightening thing is that it doesn’t take much to see effects. One study showed that participants who had their sleep cycles thrown off for only three weeks started to appear pre-diabetic on blood tests. While many of us don’t miss sleep in extreme, we do miss it sometimes, and it can be harmful.
Part of the issue with maintaining healthful levels of sleep is that we are learning new information about it all the time. Information including: what sleep does to help our bodily functions and the actual mechanics of the sleep state itself.
What Is Melatonin?
Many people are turning to various sleep aids to help get more sleep. Functioning in various ways, the expected results from sleep aids are clear: not just more sleep, but a more concrete sleep schedule. One of the superstars in this field is melatonin. This hormone can be a more affordable, all-natural alternative to many sleep drugs. Science is even there to back up its claims. Of course, for the uninitiated, this begs the question: what is melatonin?
It’s important to understand what is melatonin exactly before getting into what it can do for you and your sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that comes from the pineal gland in the brain. Its primary role is to help maintain the body’s circadian rhythm, or “sleep-wake cycle.”
The circadian rhythm is an internal clock that is essential for controlling when we fall asleep and when we wake up. In general, more melatonin is produced at night, when the light entering the eyes begins to decrease. This melatonin is then spread throughout the body, giving the signal that it’s time to rest.
What Causes Low Levels of Melatonin?
Generally, too little light during the day or too much at night can interfere with your melatonin, and by proxy, your circadian rhythm. Examples of things that can disrupt your melatonin cycles include:
Seasonal changes in environmental light
How to Increase Melatonin Levels?
In addition to coming from the pineal gland, melatonin is also present in several food items, including:
- cow’s milk
This has led to melatonin’s availability in dietary supplement form. Melatonin supplements have been proven to be a popular supplement for all age groups, as well as, for specific groups. These can include the elderly, children, and people with autism or attention deficit disorders.
How Much Melatonin Do I Need?
You’re going to hear a lot of different stories about doses of melatonin. Ultimately, you’re going to want to talk to a doctor to decide what is best for you. This is especially true if you are thinking about melatonin for children. As a rule of thumb, starting with less melatonin is the way to go.
According to National Sleep Foundation, a safe amount to start with is what our bodies produce daily, about 0.3 mg per day. However, if you are an adult dealing with jet-lag, you may want to take a more aggressive approach. 0.5 to 5 mg of melatonin 1 hour prior to bedtime is a good option. Another option for jet-lag suffers is 1 to 5 mg of melatonin, 1 hour before bedtime for 2 days prior to departure and for 2 to 3 days after arrival.
One proven-effective melatonin supplement is Tranquility Labs’ own Sleep Fast® Enhanced Melatonin Spray. It is an easy-to-use sublingual spray. Sleep Fast provides a quick melatonin spike along with a calming herbal blend for immediate relief. Not only does it help your body prepare for sleep, it is also easily portable and it tastes great! Sleep Fast is great for getting your sleep cycle back on track, ending insomnia, and fighting jet-lag.
Does Melatonin Have Side Effects?
Because of the growth of melatonin use, there are a lot of questions regarding its safety. While there is no major danger when it comes to taking melatonin, too much of it can of course lead to some issues. The most common are increased levels of drowsiness, headaches, and extremely high levels of fatigue. While instances of these are rare, they do bear mentioning.
A more important thing to consider is the fact that being a hormone, melatonin may interact with other medications you are taking. So always be cautious and seek advice from a medical professional.
What Is Melatonin & Is It My New Sleep Solution?!
We gave you a lot of information to take in! Here are a few major points to take with you:
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain, but certain food items like tomatoes, walnuts, rice, and barley can increase its production.
Melatonin’s role is to regulate sleep through the circadian rhythm, but it also regulates other hormones, as well.
Major shifts in the sleep cycle (shift work and jet lag) and poor vision all affect melatonin levels.
Melatonin supplements are popular and effective for sleep aid, especially when taken before bedtime.
While sleep aids can be valuable for getting your sleep cycle back in order, check in with a medical professional to decide what dosage works for best for you. Also, make sure to check if it interacts with other medications you may be taking.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this informative video:
Any more questions about melatonin? Want to share your stories of how melatonin helps you get the sleep you need? Join the conversation by entering your thoughts in the comment section below!