Sleep is vitally important to so many aspects of our health. A good night’s sleep resets our bodies and replenishes our hormones. Sleep affects everything from our mood to our energy level, to our weight and our sex life! Only about one in three Americans gets the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Studies show that sleeping less than 7 hours a day is associated with short term memory loss, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and frequent mental distress.
Have you tried melatonin? This hormone can help you sleep and here are ways you can boost your body’s natural production of melatonin as well as taking supplements. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the pineal gland. It regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin levels rise as evening approaches, staying high through the night, and then falling in the morning so you can wake. Melatonin production decreases with age, as do many hormones in the body. Thus you may find you have a harder time going to sleep and/or staying asleep as you age. Irregular sleep schedules, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and light all play a huge role in your production of Melatonin.
One of the biggest benefits of melatonin is it’s ability for cancer protection but also it has a calming effect on the reproductive hormones – thus lowering risk or slowing the growth of ovarian, endometrial, breast, prostate and testicular cancers. Other benefits include lowering inflammation and boosting your immune system.
Small amounts of melatonin are found in food. However here are some guidelines to protect the melatonin your body does produce. Staring at your electronics devices like iPad, cell phone, TV etc disturbs the production of melatonin. So stop looking at those electronic devices an hour before bedtime. (Use the night shift setting on your iPhone for example, too). Getting bright sunlight during the day helps your body recognize the sharp difference between that and dark evening and helps your body produce more melatonin. Unplug electronic devices within 8 ft from where you sleep to decrease/stop EMFs that may impact your melatonin production.
Taking a melatonin supplement is perfectly safe for most people but as with all medical decisions it is ***always best to consult your physician before adding anything new to your regime. That said – melatonin is not habit forming and works in concert with your body’s own production of it. Doses range from .5 mg to 20 mg but – it is best to begin with a low dose and then relax in darkness to optimize effectiveness. Too much melatonin will make you more awake so start very low and add more if necessary. It won’t make you drowsy but in a fully lit room it might confuse your body’s sleep cycle if you use it during the day or in bright light.
***This information is not intended to provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. It provides general information for educational purposes only. It’s not a substitute for medical or professional care and should never be used in place of the advice of your primary physician.