Sleep and the Importance of Melatonin
One of the best ways of looking after ourselves is to ensure a good night’s sleep. With our busy modern lifestyles, sleep is often sacrificed.
It’s no secret that sleep is necessary for our physical health and emotional well-being. Some of us will even wear our sleepless nights like a badge of honor - but at what cost to our health?
What have studies found?
- They have found sleep deprivation not only affects cognitive function but can also negatively affect your ability to carry out essential bodily tasks like digestion.
- Those who don`t sleep well tend to have a very low tolerance to stress and low empathy which explains why some people become nervous and suffer from anxiety when they are sleep deprived.
Getting a proper nights’ rest on a regular basis isn’t just a good idea, it’s an essential one. One of the biggest factors when it comes to your sleep cycle is melatonin.
What is melatonin?
It is a hormone that’s made by the pineal gland in the brain. It is primarily responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm to manage your natural sleep cycle. The production and release of Melatonin is connected to the time of day, increasing when it’s dark and decreasing when it’s light.
Melatonin is also a renowned natural sleep aid and is used across the world as a popular dietary supplement. In addition to improving your natural sleep cycle, melatonin is also involved in managing a healthy immune system, blood pressure and cortisol levels.
Aging can lead to a decline in natural melatonin production.
What are the signs of a melatonin deficiency?
- Restless legs syndrome
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Menopause symptoms, PMS and menstrual irregularities
- Intestinal symptoms
- Increased aging process
How to maximize your natural melatonin production?
- Getting more sleep!
- Ensuring you have a darkened bedroom for sleeping as melatonin production is increased by darkness. Use blackout curtains or blinds if necessary and remove any artificial light, putting away digital devices, mobile phones and bright alarm clocks well before going to sleep.
- Avoiding foods or drinks before bedtime that will induce stress hormone production or cause blood sugar imbalances during the night. Examples include heavy meals, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- Daytime light exposure will promote a regular circadian rhythm of melatonin and help ensure higher levels at night time.
You may be tempted to take melatonin supplements but as these can negatively interact with many different medications, it is wise to check with your doctor before self-medicating.