Are you trying to figure the cause of your sleepless nights? Studies show one-quarter of Americans have severe insomnia during the year. If you’ve ruled out coffee caffeine, high stress and loud sounds, lack of sleep might be due to the sleep hormone melatonin. It’s closely related to the human body’s sleep-wake cycle, so low levels might negatively affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
What Are Hormones and Sleep Hormones?
The human body gives off and circulates about 50 different hormones. This term originates from a Greek word that translates to “to spur on.” It reveals how hormones function in chemical changes within cells.
The hormones are important for different body functions, including energy, growth, and development.
What are hormones all about? These chemicals transport messages from glands to cells located within the body’s tissues or organs. They also help to maintain chemical balance in the bloodstream.
The body’s sleep hormones include ones connected to sleep like:
These hormones are also linked to the body’s internal clock. This body clock is also known by fancier names like “circadian rhythms” or “biorhythms.” These processes are important for other processes like blood sugar and the balance of chemical compounds known as lipids.
How to Get Better Sleep to Balance Hormones Naturally (video)
Melatonin: The Sleep Hormone
The human brain produces this hormone when responding to nighttime darkness. It plays an important role in the body’s 24-hour internal clock. Since humans are hardwired to sleep at night, melatonin is also closely connected to sleep.
Where does the body get melatonin? The human body naturally makes melatonin. While the brain makes it when a person is in darkness, being exposed to light can actually block the production of melatonin.
Most melatonin dietary supplements are produced synthetically. However, they can also contain natural animals or microbes.
As always, it’s critical to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements. This can help to catch “drug interactions” caused when certain prescription drugs are paired with other drugs or supplements.
Besides functioning as a sleep hormone, past studies show that melatonin might be involved in other body functions besides sleep. However, more research is needed because scientists don’t fully understand these processes.
In recent years researchers and the public have become interested in finding external sources of the hormone-like capsules and liquids. This is due to sleep deprivation becoming an epidemic. A recent study showed that the average American gets perfect sleep for one-third of a month, according to the New York Post.
How Melatonin Benefits Sleep
Whether you boost your natural levels or take dietary supplements, studies show that boosting your melatonin levels can help to improve sleep quality in various ways.
Various studies reveal that taking melatonin supplements might help people with conditions, including one known as Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD). This internal clock disorder causes a person’s natural sleep schedule to be shifted later and typically for hours.
One of the main problems with DSWPD is it can be tough for sufferers to wake up early for work, school, or family responsibilities. Studies show that taking small doses of melatonin might help to fall asleep earlier.
Is Melatonin the Right Sleep Aid? (video)
Fun Fact: The United States created its first four time zones in 1883: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Today, melatonin supplements might help airline passengers who suffer from jet lag when crossing international time zones.
The dietary supplements might help with jet lag symptoms. They include daytime tiredness, disrupted sleep, and digestion problems.
This conclusion is based on medium-sized reviews during the 2010s. It shows the supplements might help you get more shut-eye, like the ability to find a mattress that suits you.
Sleep Disorders among Children
Some studies show that melatonin pills or liquids might also help some children with sleep problems. Children with certain health conditions are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders, including:
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Health experts recommend using various behavioral treatments like good bedtime habits, then possibly supplementing them with medicines like melatonin.
Melatonin Supplements and Mental Health
Besides helping people to sleep better, some research shows that melatonin supplements might also help to improve a person’s mental health in various ways, including:
Some research also shows that melatonin supplements might help with anxiety caused before or after surgical procedures. This experience is quite common and happens in up to 80% of surgery patients.
A 2015 study review showed mixed results. Melatonin supplements seem to help with pre-surgery anxiety, although there’s less solid evidence it helps with post-surgery anxiety.
Studies show that in some rare cases, melatonin supplements might actually cause side-effects like short-term depression, irritability, and confusion. However, it doesn’t seem to cause long-term depression linked to major depressive disorders.
Meanwhile, other studies show that taking melatonin might help treat depression symptoms by slightly reducing them. It also might even lower the risk of depression in some population groups, such as cancer surgery patients.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This condition is sometimes triggered due to lower levels of sunlight during autumn and winter. This can result in depression when the body’s internal clock is disrupted. A 2006 study showed that low melatonin doses seemed to create more emotional balance and reduce SAD symptoms.
How to Naturally Boost the Body’s Melatonin Levels
Here are some effective ways to boost melatonin levels without needing strong chemicals in prescription medicines:
- Get lots of sunlight in the morning
- Take natural melatonin supplements
- End screen time 1+ hours before going to sleep
- Start regular cardio/weight-resistance exercising
- Take a warm bath or shower at bedtime
- Try meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises
- Wear blue light-blocking amber-tinted glasses at night
- Smell lavender for 10 to 15 minutes before sleeping
- Use/Install a dimmer switch in your bedroom
- Reduce stress/anxiety levels at nighttime
- Drink water instead of sugary beverages
- Eat high-melatonin foods (nuts/seeds, oats, corn, olives, cucumbers, etc.)
These are natural/holistic methods for boosting your body’s melatonin levels. They’re also low-cost or even free.
Another plus is these tips & tricks are also quite easy. They include basic steps like eating a bowl of oatmeal, turning off the TV, or taking a morning walk.
The global melatonin supplements market is projected to spike to over $1.5 billion by 2021, according to Statista. Studies show that such hormone supplementation might help with issues like sleep disorders, jet lag, and severe depression.
The key to a good night’s sleep involves a multi-faceted approach. This can involve different factors like hormone supplements; dark, quiet, and cool bedrooms; and finding the right mattress. While it seems complicated, it’s definitely something you can work on.
As a final note, if you do have serious sleep health issues, it’s best to always consult a health professional to get the correct treatment.