Sleeplessness is a common problem that many people face. Aside from waking up tired, not getting enough sleep can have severe consequences for your physical and mental health.
If you have sleep problems, one option to try is a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm – your body’s internal clock. This is the cycle in humans and animals that controls when you feel sleepy, as well as when you get hungry, when you are most alert, and it even regulates your core temperature and blood pressure.
Melatonin supplements are not like sleeping pills. They don’t make you feel drowsy, and they don’t affect your ability to wake up. Instead, they act as a signal, letting your body and organs know it is time to prepare for sleep. Your pineal gland produces more melatonin when it’s dark outside, and light exposure inhibits its production.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep when you are supposed to, melatonin supplements may be a powerful way to re-synchronize your circadian rhythm and change your sleep schedule.
Sleeping At The Wrong Times
There are many potential reasons why you can’t get to sleep when you need to. Maybe you’ve traveled to a new time zone or started a new job with a different shift schedule.
Other changes in our lives can also disrupt our circadian rhythms. Some of the most common causes for this are lack of exercise, too much or too little light exposure, eating at the wrong times, and even stress and anxiety.
If your eyes are seeing bright lights at night – including TV, phones, and computers – your pineal gland won’t be able to produce enough melatonin for you to feel tired. And once you get into the habit of staying up later than usual, your rhythm becomes trained to that schedule.
Using Melatonin To Sleep Better
Melatonin supplements won’t work for every kind of sleep problem, but they can be helpful in many cases.
Take a melatonin supplement a half hour before you go to bed. Start small, 1mg or less. If you need to, gradually increase the dose until it helps you fall asleep. Taking large does won’t help and might cause side effects.
Remember, these aren’t sleeping pills. They aren’t a one-time quick fix. The goal is to re-align your sleep/wake cycle so that you are getting high-quality sleep at the correct times.
Melatonin supplements can interact with some medications. Make sure you read the labels carefully and consult with your physician before taking a supplement. If your sleep problems are serious and persistent, you should ask your doctor for help determining any underlying causes.
You might be able to improve your melatonin levels without supplements simply by ensuring you are eating and exposing your eyes to light and darkness at the appropriate times.