Tag Archives: melatonin

Need Help Sleeping? Melatonin Has Your Back.

Insomnia – or an inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep – is being recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a major public health concern. It’s estimated that a whopping 50 to 70 million Americans have some type of sleep difficulty.

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling worn down and cranky, it’s also been linked to an increase in car accidents, industrial disasters, and medical/work errors. Aside from that, research shows that adults with a history of insomnia are almost four times as likely to become depressed and have an increased risk of obesity and heart disease.

There are plenty of commercials toting prescriptions to help you get those Zs, but these medications are not without side effects, and in most cases, you have to make sure that you have at least an 8 hour window for sleep or you’ll be left feeling groggy and “out of it”. Some of these prescription medications can also be habit-forming, meaning that even if they do work, your body becomes so used to them that you’ll have an increasingly difficult time falling asleep without them.

So what do you do if you can’t sleep? We’re huge proponents of melatonin – an all-natural supplement that mimics the hormonal sleep response of the body.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland – a part of your brain – from the neurotransmitter serotonin. This hormone plays a key role in regulating your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural 24 hour cycle. Your body relies on its circadian rhythm to tell it when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep. If your circadian rhythm is off, your whole day will be off. You’ll have trouble waking up, you’ll have trouble falling asleep, and even when you do sleep, you may toss and turn throughout the whole thing – never fully experiencing that restorative REM sleep that’s so necessary for proper functioning. When it’s dark out, your body’s secretion of melatonin increases. When it’s light out, melatonin drops. This is the basis of your circadian rhythm.

Back in the day, the body was great at controlling its circadian rhythm. Humans didn’t have technology so they woke up when the sun rose and went to bed when the sun went down and there was no light left to see. Nowadays, with so much technology – lights, televisions, computers, and smartphones – the body has no idea what’s going on. It’s exposed to light at all hours of the night, and as a result, the circadian rhythm goes out of whack. Melatonin stays low at night when it should be high and then you can’t sleep. Melatonin supplements provide your body with the melatonin it needs at night.

Other Benefits of Melatonin

Melatonin isn’t just helpful for insomnia, though. Research shows that the best way to reduce the effects of jet lag is to take 5 milligrams of melatonin in your new destination for a total of 5 days.

How Should I Take Melatonin?

Although melatonin supplements are all-natural, you should still exercise caution when taking them. Take the supplement exactly as recommended by your doctor – do not take larger or smaller quantities or for longer than recommended. Typically, experts recommend taking the supplement 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime.

Who Should Avoid Taking Melatonin?

Melatonin may be contraindicated for those with:

  • Depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Asthma

Or those taking:

  • MAO inhibitors
  • Corticosteroids

 

 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

sleep and weight loss

Sleep and Weight Loss: What’s the Connection?

As a kid, you probably fought your parents tooth and nail over naptime, bedtime or any time that involved you having to go to sleep. As an adult, you may count down the minutes until you can crawl back into your bed. If you’re lucky enough to get 8 hours of sleep, your body thanks you more than you know. If you’re not, your body is likely to respond with grumpiness, fatigue and forgetfulness. Your body may also be punishing you for lack of sleep by making it more difficult for you to lose weight. So what exactly is the connection between sleep and weight loss? It all comes down to hormones.

Sleep and Weight Loss

There are two hormones involved in telling you when to eat and when you should stop eating. Ghrelin is the hormone that says “Hey, you’re hungry, let’s eat.” Leptin is the hormone that says “Okay, stop now. I think you’ve had enough.” When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more ghrelin and less leptin. As a result, your body is constantly telling you to eat without signaling you to stop. To add insult to injury, your metabolism is also slower when you haven’t had a good night of sleep so you’re not using the calories you are eating as efficiently. This not only hinders your progress, it can actually lead to weight gain.

What Can You Do?

The most obvious answer to correcting the problems caused by lack of sleep is to get more sleep. If your issue is simply that you aren’t going to bed early enough, get to bed at a decent hour. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night (although eight is ideal). For some of you, though, it may not be that easy. It’s estimated that 40 million Americans have trouble sleeping.

If you’re one of those with sleeping trouble, you may benefit from a sleep aid, like melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced by the pineal gland in your brain. The hormone controls your circadian rhythm – your biological clock that tells you when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to wake up. If your melatonin levels are out of whack, it can disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and sleep deprivation. Melatonin supplements provide the body with synthetic melatonin – which mimics the effects of the natural melatonin produced by your brain — to help you get to sleep faster and keep you snoozing throughout the night.

Magnesium is another supplement that can help with sleep. Magnesium plays a huge role in your nervous system and making sure you have enough in your body can help calm you down when it’s time to rest.

You can also increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by limiting your caffeine intake and watching what you eat before bed. If you like to drink coffee in the afternoon, switch to decaf after 2 p.m. Avoid caffeinated sodas and energy drinks. Try not to eat a big meal close to bedtime. If it’s late and you’re hungry, have a light snack like a bowl of cereal to tide you over until the morning. Getting enough sleep should always be one of your top priorities.