Sleep is a difficult thing. Some of us are naturals – we wake up easily and sleep with darkness like gold medalists, as if sleep was an Olympic sport – while others are not. The American Sleep Association estimates that 50-70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. And according to an article from the year Journal of Neurological Research people with insomnia can spend an average of $ 2,000 a year more on medical treatment than people without sleep disruption.
Anyone who suffers from too little sleep knows that it affects much of life, such as emotional and physical well-being. People who do not get enough sleep are more susceptible to delayed reaction times, depression, obesity, and perhaps even heart complications. So how do we fall and stay asleep when sheep count and other common tactics just do not work? The answer may be a dose of melatonin.
What is melatonin?
Simply put, melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces. It is a chemical messenger that responds to some kind of stimulation (in this case, darkness) affecting other parts of the body. Melatonin is synthesized and released from the pineal gland, which is located in the middle of the brain.
How does it work?
The actual darkness signals the pineal gland to arouse melatonin and release it into the bloodstream. While the watch indicates that it is bedtime, bright light (natural or fluorescent) can inhibit the production and release of melatonin. Therefore, avoiding bright screens before going to bed or pulling the shades can help to get more Z.
When do you use it?
To know when to take additional melatonin, you need to talk to your doctor. However, the National Sleep Foundation says intervention may be needed to support sleep, when behavioral changes have proven to be ineffective, fulfilling daily tasks becomes difficult, or when lack of sleep leads to stress. In addition, melatonin can improve sleep to improve sleep onset, duration and quality when other pharmaceutical interventions have proven ineffective. And it does it with less measurable side effects (yay!).
Increasing consumption of melatonin-containing foods can promote healthier sleep cycles. Cherries, nuts, mushrooms, fish and eggs are good food sources. However, if you are looking for a quick and easy route, you can also get melatonin supplements without a prescription. According to an article in the Nutrition Journal (201
Risks Associated with Melatonin Supplementation
Melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so taking the supplement may be associated with certain risks. For example, the dosage listed on the package may not accurately reflect what is in the pill. You also need to be aware of when and how much you are taking, as additional melatonin increases your body's hormone levels higher than the naturally occurring ones. This can cause the natural clock of the body to revert to an undesirable rhythm. Nonetheless, according to the National Sleep Foundation, there were no cases of toxicity or overdose of melatonin at this time. More research is being done on its long-term effects. It is always best to consult your doctor before you start taking it.
Disclaimer: The statements made in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before making drastic changes in your lifestyle.
Sources: American Sleep Association – Sleep Statistics / Journal of Neurological Research (2017) – An Overview of Sleep Disorders and Melatonin / National Sleep Foundation – Sleep and Melatonin / Journal of Nutrients (2017) – Food Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin / Nutrition Journal (2014) – Efficacy of Melatonin for Promoting Sound Sleep: Rapid Evidence Evaluation of Literature  Print Friendly, PDF & E-mail "/>