Approximately 33-55% of the US population has some sort of sleep disorder or form of Insomnia. We are challenged with stressors that may keep us up at night such as financial stress, health stress, relationship pressure and more. Because of this, our sleep may often suffer leading to issues that we did not foresee.
When we sleep 8 hours a night, that actually equals out to be 33% of our entire life that we spent in bed, sleeping. Because of this, it is important to get high quality sleep and ensure that we do not do anything that throws our sleep out of it’s cycle. Melatonin, our main sleep hormone is an important part of this process.
Melatonin is an Endogenous Hormone
Melatonin is an endogenous hormone which means that it is produced by the body internally. Whereas exogenous hormones are hormones that are introduced outside of the body.
In other words, the body makes melatonin naturally and this is an important thing to remember. Because the body produces melatonin internally it is important to support the body in doing this, naturally.
How can you support the body in it’s ability to produce melatonin naturally?
The biggest thing that influences the body’s ability to produce melatonin production is light exposure at night. The more bright lights and light exposure you have at night the more confused your brain is.
The brain gets signaled by light to think it’s daytime, and naturally so. By turning down lights, and avoiding bright white (or blue, or green) lights at night, you’re reminding your body that it’s time to wind down now.
Orange and red lights are best at night as these mimic the sun setting which signals the brain that it is nighttime.
The body begins to produce melatonin at around 9 PM each night, so by turning the lights down and having orange or red light be your source of light after this time you will be signaling your brain that melatonin (your sleep hormone) needs to be produced.
The Problem With Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin supplements are what is known as exogenous hormones. This simply means that you are taking external hormones and giving them to your body. The challenge here is that your body receives this hormone (melatonin) and tells itself, my melatonin is made! I don’t need to produce any now.
This makes it harder for the body to produce melatonin over time as it is simply received by the body so your body stops doing the work. The challenge here is that you then become dependent on these exogenous melatonin supplements.
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What To Do Instead Of Taking Melatonin Supplements
Because your body produced melatonin internally and you do not want to confuse it by taking an external hormone, it is best to avoid taking melatonin supplements.
Instead you can try herbs and flowers in tea or Essential oils, or try other calming aids such as magnesium. These help to turn the body’s energy into relaxation and turn the brain and nervous system down, preparing it for sleep.
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The question then becomes should melatonin be avoided at all times?
Definitely not. A great time to use melatonin is when you travel. If you travel and are in a different time zone that is say two, three or more hours from your regular sleep cycle melatonin may be good for a night or two in an effort to get back on track.
Your circadian rhythm (internal biological clock) needs to have a consistent sleep/awake cycle and if traveling interferes with that, it may be good to use intermittently. I’d recommend using something like Healthy Cell’s sleep blend which has a lower amount of melatonin in it and is paired with multiple other nutrients that support sleep health. Here’s 20% off today at this link.
These gel packs taste like a cherry fruit blend and beyond being delicious support every cycle of your sleep.
This is a great intermittent sleep aid that is not a straight melatonin supplement but rather a blend of vitamins, minerals, herbs and the last ingredient (meaning, lowest ingredient in the whole formula) is melatonin.
You can also use a sleep aid like Qualia Night which was formulated to calm the mind and body and is melatonin free. When I was living on a farm in the inner city of Detroit, sleeping in a tent this formula really saved my sleep.
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If you’re really having trouble falling or staying asleep both of these above products taking in conjunction will definitely get your sleep back on track.
Naturally Occurring Sources of Melatonin in Food
Believe it or not there are also naturally occurring sources of melatonin in certain foods as well. These are okay as the body knows how to process and utilize these efficiently.
Plus, foods are paired with other important co-factor nutrients to improve the absorption and assimilation of melatonin. Foods such as pistachios, tart cherries, fatty fish, rice, goji berries, oats and mushrooms are all naturally occurring sources of melatonin.
Once again, these foods are okay to eat because the body knows how to utilize hormones from whole foods. Eat these foods to support your body in it’s natural melatonin production.