(NaturalHealth365) Over a third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call insufficient sleep a “public health epidemic.”
Sleep anxiety and deprivation can lead to car accidents, depression, obesity plus many other chronic health conditions – including brain disorders. Generally speaking, high sugar intake; overeating late at night; the use of wireless technology (especially before bedtime) or low melatonin levels could be the reason for your sleepless nights.
What Is melatonin and how does it alter sleep patterns?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It’s produced in response to darkness, and levels decrease in bright light. This is why using brightly-lit electronic devices at night is a bad idea.
Melatonin has several functions in your body, such as reducing age-associated bone loss and promoting cognitive function. However, it is mainly known for its role in sleep. When levels increase in the evening, you start to feel sleepy. When you wake up in the morning, the sunlight naturally reduces melatonin production.
You’ll have trouble sleeping if your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin when it’s time to sleep. In addition, if melatonin levels are too high during the day, you’ll get that groggy feeling.
Jet lag is a common example of when melatonin can be uncooperative with your sleep schedule. One of the best ways to overcome jet lag is to ‘ground yourself’ – by taking a barefoot walk in the park or at the beach for 45 – 60 minutes.
Can melatonin supplements help me sleep better at night?
Melatonin supplements may help with jet lag and certain sleep disorders. For chronic conditions, a melatonin dosage of about 0.5 milligrams may be appropriate. A higher dose, or 3 to 5 milligrams, can be effective for getting over jet lag and falling asleep faster.
One warning: Be careful not to take more melatonin than you need, since having too much can set your body’s clock off even further. It’s best to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin to get advice on dosage and interactions – especially if you’re on medications such as oral contraceptives, diabetes medications, anticoagulants, or immune-suppressants.
Four simple ways to improve your sleep
1. Create a better (regular) sleep schedule. Remember, the hours of 10 pm to 2 am are crucial for repair and rejuvenation.
2. Before bedtime, ‘wind down’ by avoiding T.V. or the use of wireless technology. Try drinking some warm chamomile tea, take a bath or do something that helps you relax – before bedtime.
3. Be sure your bedroom is as dark as possible at bedtime. This is especially important for teenagers!
Don’t sleep next to your mobile device – that EMF pollution can really mess up your sleep cycle.
4. Obviously, certain foods can induce melatonin production, making them smart choices for evening snacks. They include cherries, grapes, oatmeal, tomatoes, walnuts and bananas. Just remember, avoid eating 1-2 hours before bedtime to keep your digestive system calm.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who has trouble sleeping, take a look at your sleep habits first. If you’re still unable to sleep well, consider supplementing with melatonin. It just might be your ticket to better sleep.