Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain. Melatonin regulates the body’s daily rhythms such as your sleep-wake cycle. (also called circadian rhythms) Production of melatonin by the pineal gland is stimulated by darkness an inhibited by light.
Scientific findings show that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep (“sleep latency”), increases feelings of “sleepiness,” and may increase the duration of sleep. The liquid form of melatonin was much more effective for me however, it did cause nightmares so I no longer use it.
Melatonin has been called “the most misused sleep aid in America” with many individuals taking 3+ mg, well over the 1mg suggested dose per night. Taking more than 1mg does not increase the affect and in fact, can negatively impact libido. The recommended and most effective dosage of melatonin is less in smaller framed individuals with 500 mcg or .5 mg recommended for a 105 lb individual.
Taken in proper amounts, melatonin is the least expensive and most effective sleep aid in America. Using a liquid form of melatonin can produce drowsiness in 10 to 15 minutes versus 30 to 60 minutes with melatonin in capsule form, which has to be broken down by the digestive system first.
I have tried every prescription sleeping pill that is available with none of them keeping me asleep for more than 4 hours. I have also tried several types of herbal tea but didn’t notice a great impact on my sleeping patterns. The best sleeping aid that I have tried (and continue to use) is a powder form of magnesium called Natural Calm. After dinner each night I heat one cup of water in the microwave for 30 seconds and split it between two coffee cups. (one for me and one for my hubby) Once I have added the water to the cup I add two teaspoons of the Natural Calm powder to the cup and stir to combine. Once the bubbles have settled it’s bottoms up! I highly recommend Natural Calm as a sleep aid for anyone that has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
According to a poll by Self.com, 60% of participants log fewer than 7 to 8 hours sleep per night and 15% indicated less than 6 hours per night.
- Forty-eight percent of Americans report insomnia occasionally, while 22 percent experience insomnia every or almost every night.
- Women are 1.3 times more likely to report insomnia than men.
- People over age 65 are 1.5 times more likely to complain of insomnia than younger people.
- Divorced, widowed and separated people report more insomnia
Sleep recommendations for Adults
The suggested amount of sleep for Adults is 7 to 8 hours per night. Benefits include:
- Healthy physical and mental state
- Younger looking appearance
- Improves circulation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces stress level
- Reduces inflammation
- Strengthens immune system
- Improves memory
- Aids in controlling body weight
Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep while school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
Risks associated with too little sleep:
Less than 7 hours:
- 3 times more likely to catch a cold (getting enough sleep helps to regulate the body’s response to infection)
- Weight gain (the body produces more ghrelin, appetite promoting hormone and less of the satiety-producing hormone, leptin)
Less than six hours:
All of the above as well as:
- Memory impairment
- Impair reaction time
- Impair cognitive thinking
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends to reinforce your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
- Eating and drinking habits: Don’t go to bed hungry or overly stuffed to avoid discomfort that could keep you awake. Limit the amount of liquids you drink prior to bed to eliminate multiple trips to the bathroom during the night. This includes intake of more than one “standard drink” of alcohol (10-12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1.5oz shot of liquor) Higher intake of alcohol disrupts sleep and limits the body’s ability to reach REM stage which stimulates the brains ability to learn, cognitive and creative thinking and memory skills.
- Try to create a bedtime ritual: Creating routine allows you body to recognize when in is time to “wind down”. This might include taking a shower or warm bath, reading a book, 30 minutes of Yoga or other relaxing activity. Dim lights and do not go to bed with the TV or computer on as research suggests that screen time or other media use interferes with sleep.
- Create a comfortable environment: A cool (65̊), quiet and dark room is ideal to promote sleep. Some individuals find using a fan or smart phone app such as Relax Melodies, White Noise or try one of the apps suggested by Shape.com by clicking this link: 10 Free iPhone Apps to Help You Sleep Better, Tonight!
- Limit daytime naps: Daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep, if you choose to nap during the day limit naps to 30 minutes or less.
- Be Active: Regular physical exercise is important to promote sleep, just be sure to limit strenuous evening activity which could also interfere with you ability to fall asleep.
- Limit and/or manage stress: Some sleep experts suggest keeping a journal or notebook on the bedside table to jot down the following day’s tasks an hour before bedtime reduces racing thoughts and sudden nighttime awakenings due to forgotten “to do” items.
- Skip the snooze button: REM sleep occurs towards early morning hours and is accompanied by vivid dreams and memory consolidation; the third and fourth stages of sleep are deep and restorative. Studies suggest when you hit the snooze button, you alternate between wakefulness and light sleep, which might feel comforting – but there is no physical or mental benefit from this. Set your alarm later and get more REM or quality sleep.
Additional resources regarding Melatonin
Hope this info helps you get a good nights sleep.
Sending peace, love and happiness to all!
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