Is Melatonin the Key to Better Sleep?
Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | September 27, 2016
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, specifically the pineal gland. Melatonin is most commonly known for its role in the body’s sleep cycle, but it is also responsible for the timing of when female reproductive hormones are released and when menopause starts. Melatonin production tends to slow down as we age, which some researchers believe is why older people may go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier than they did when they were younger.
What is Melatonin and Its Correlation with Sleep?
The production of melatonin is only triggered with darkness when nighttime sets in. Around 9 pm the pineal gland will awaken after being inactive for the whole day and begin to produce melatonin. This increased amount of melatonin in the blood stream is what makes you feel drowsy and sleepy.
Throughout the night, melatonin production will remain active for about 12 hours, at which point daylight has likely returned. At 9 am you will begin to feel more “awake” and alert as the melatonin levels in your blood drop.
Why Melatonin Supplements Can Do More Harm than Good
As with any kind of supplement you are taking, tracking your dosage is important. With melatonin, the risk with relying on a supplement for your intake is consuming too much of it. While melatonin typically does not have side effects in most people, taking too much melatonin can induce hypothermia, disrupt puberty, prevent regular hormonal development and alter menstrual cycles.
According to researchers, prolonged use of melatonin supplements can also extend insomnia because the brain becomes desensitized as a result of the regular dosage. It also hinders the body from reacting to the melatonin that is produced naturally by the body. Extended intake of melatonin supplements can also cause the body to reregulate internal production amounts to produce less melatonin overall. All of these factors can result in insomnia symptoms getting progressively worse.
How Can You Produce Melatonin Naturally?
Your sleeping environment is the key to maintaining appropriate levels of melatonin in the body. Make sure all sources of ambient light are blocked off or removed from your bedroom and screens are put away. The room should be as dark as possible. Sleeping in complete darkness will allow optimal levels of melatonin to be produced.
Another approach is consume more foods that are high in vitamin B6, which is something the body requires to produce melatonin.
When it comes to melatonin, sticking to natural solutions is ideal. Synthetic melatonin can wreak havoc with the body’s natural supply. Instead, invest your efforts towards helping your body produce optimal levels of this hormone on its own, as nature intended.
For another all natural, organic and dairy free alternative, ZenBev products are made with pumpkin seed extract which enhances natural levels of melatonin and tryptophan to increase sleep quality.