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Naturally Increase Melatonin for a Better Night’s Rest
Many have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, even if you had enough time in your day to get in 8 or more hours of rest, many have difficulty falling asleep or wake up many times throughout the night. If you have difficulty sleeping, you’re not alone, it is estimated that 1/3 of Americans have trouble sleeping every night and over 50% have trouble at least several times each week.
One possible cause is a decrease in your body’s level of melatonin. Melatonin levels can be affected very easily and can drop off due to environmental factors, such as sleeping with bright lights on.
When you think about going back to what’s natural, hundreds of years ago we weren’t staying up late at night with artificial light, using laptops, or watching TV before bed, instead the human body used daylight to determine when it was time to sleep and when it was time to wake up. When this timing is altered it can result in the disruption of the circadian rhythm.
With just a few simple changes you will be able to naturally increase melatonin which will help you get a good night’s sleep.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced in the pineal gland. Melatonin production is what allows the body to relax and triggers sleepiness at night, the level decreases in the early morning.
The production of melatonin can easily be affected by environmental factors including, using artificial light and stress, which make it more difficult to fall asleep.
With the number of people who use cell phones, watch TV or use their laptop right before going to sleep, it’s no surprise that so many are low in melatonin and would benefit from increasing it.
The Super Health Benefits of Melatonin
Studies on melatonin have shown the numerous amount of health benefits. The hormone melatonin has been shown to increase the immune system and have anti-cancer benefits. It not only inhibits proliferation of cancer cells, but also triggers cancer cells to self destruct (apoptosis).
Melatonin is also a potent antioxidant, it decreases your bodies level of oxidative stress and reduces inflammation.
What Causes Low Melatonin
The most common cause of decreased melatonin is due to light exposure. Unless your going to bed at 8pm or 6pm in the winter, you’re using some form of artificial light.
Research has shown that exposure to artificial light at nighttime inhibits the production of melatonin. Even just being exposed to normal room lighting can suppress melatonin.
However, melatonin is most affected by “blue” light, which is emitted from cell phones, computer screens, and TVs.
Whether you check your phone for a minute before you go to bed or watch TV for a few hours, studies show the effect is the same and your body’s melatonin pump won’t turn back on when you turn your devices off.
There are also other factors that can influence melatonin production, including high levels of stress and eating foods with caffeine.
How to Naturally Increase Melatonin
With these simple tips you can naturally increase melatonin and should be able to get a better night’s sleep.
1. Go to Sleep Early– Make sure to get a full night’s sleep in order to allow your body to go through all sleep stages and to not disrupt circadian rhythm. If possible, try to turn down the lighting in your home as it gets closer to nighttime and minimize the use of computers and TV’s especially right before bed.
2. Sleep in Darkness – Completely pitch black would be best, make sure to cover alarm clocks or any small lights on electronic devices, and use blackout window curtains.
3. Avoid High Sugar and Caffeine – Several studies have shown that those with diets high in caffeine, processed foods and sugar tend to have even more decreased levels of melatonin
4. Meditate -Allow yourself some quiet time before you go to bed and practice deep breathing. Meditation has been shown to aid in boosting the production of melatonin.
5. Reduce Stress– High levels of stress result in the suppression of the production of melatonin and growth hormone secretion
6. Eat Cherries-Several foods naturally contain melatonin. To increase melatonin, the most powerful is tart cherries. Other foods that boost melatonin levels include turkey, chicken, and almonds.
Should You Supplement with Melatonin?
You can also buy melatonin supplements to increase melatonin. However, give the natural ways a try first to see if you can eliminate what may be causing low melatonin. Melatonin can be very helpful for some who continue to have difficulty sleeping. Studies have shown that melatonin helps individuals fall asleep quicker, remain asleep, and prevent fatigue during the day.
Have you tried any of these tips to naturally increase melatonin?
Where can I find magnesium flake
You can get them online or at your local health food store.
it is good that about melatonin detail iformation .but i would like ask about it.one way of increasing melatonin is avoid stress ,sleep fully dark place ,avoid contact artificial ligh .i have been done all of the above,but it is diffcult to me to get good sleep and when i expose to sun light at the time i will become sleepy soon.so what shall i do?
Hi aderaw adamu,
Try drinking chart cherry juice. Also, get some early morning sun within an hour of waking up, at least 30 minutes to an hour. Keep a regular schedule in regards to sleep. The best hours for sleep are before midnight. Every hour you sleep before midnight is like sleeping 2 hours. I recommend that you go to sleep by 10pm at the latest. No bright lights, TV, computers, cell phones, etc., at least one hour before bed. Download f.lux for your computer, tablet, cell. f.lux dims your screen you avoid that bright blue light after 6 pm. That will help a lot. No caffeine after 2 pm, preferably none at all. Eat a protein, carb and healthy fat at every meal. Try eating a complex carb and some protein about 30 minutes before bed. Maybe some turkey breast and cheese or whole wheat crackers with almond butter. Meditate daily and also do yoga. Practice deep breathing and also don’t worry about things you cannot control. Take care of the things you can. Take care. Health and happiness!
Great tips! I’ve been doing magnesium foot baths before I go to bed and I think they’re helping quite a bit too.
Hi Lori, what type of magnesium do you use for those foot baths? Epsom salt?
PS: I finally ordered some of those Blue Blocker glasses and got them in the mail today.
I add about 1/4 cup of magnesium flakes to make the foot bath. I was using Epsom salt, but I’ve found magnesium flakes to work much better for me. Many say they are better absorbed. Awesome you got the blue blocking glasses! I’ve been using mine every night now and I think they’re really helping.
Hi Lori, thanks for the information. Do you wear the blue blockers only after sunset or during the day as well?
Only wear them after sunset. I put them on at about 8pm and try to be in bed around 10pm. 🙂
Thanks again Lori. Great job! 🙂
Thanks Eddie 🙂
Just got a free download from justgetflux.com. It decreases the levels of blue light emitted by your computer screen as you approach nighttime (like daylight during the day and warmer reds at night). Just enter your zipcode so it can automatically adjust your screen at the proper times. You can adjust the range of light in the spectrum manually, and temporarily disable it to do work requiring full color discrimination. I just downloaded it and love it!
Cool! I’ve been using the glasses that limit the blue light.
Has wearing those glasses helped you in any way? Thanks
They definitely help! But, I have to admit I haven’t been using them as often as I should.
I am just now finding out about melatonin, and have been doing everything wrong! No wonder I have trouble sleeping.
I’m a night owl and use the computer or watch TV right up until bedtime. Also, I found out that the blood pressure medication I take (calcium channel blocker) decreases melatonin.
I am allergic to ACE inhibitors, so I don’t really have the option to stop taking a CCB.
I am going to try to change my ways to boost my melatonin naturally, because I am not sure it’s OK to take a melatonin supplement along with my CCB.
If anyone has suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks!
Lori, Health Extremist
Hope the natural tips help! I saw a great difference just from darkening the room earlier at night and sleeping in complete darkness.
I think some of these things may help people who are temporarily thrown off balance, by travel or schedules, etc; but, for those of us who’ve suffered thru a lifetime of being born with a different biological clock than the Farmer Browns of yester year, it’s doubtful. I finally resigned myself to the genetic predisposition, I came with and worked 2nd shift until I retired. I could awake without an alarm, or with one, at times, ready to take on the tasks before me. Forcing myself into someone elses idea of a “day job” only created huge amts of stress and even made it worse, trying to sleep for fear of oversleeping…hiring wake up services, etc…horrible way to have to live life. My mother, who grew up on a farm, eyes rolling up like window shades, at 5am… could fall asleep in a fully lit room, with the TV blaring, like it was a Brahms lullaby; my dad, had the insomniac gene I inherited; worked for himself and had someone else open his business for him. The times I had to live with the early birds, was atrocious and life truly was a haze and not worth the trouble…actually, truly it was not. People who are born, only requiring minimal amts of sleep…I require 6 straight hrs, is all…and when it’s time for my body to sleep, it will do it, no problem. So, I suggest, to listen to your body, and quit fighting it. Life’s too short, for that…and the “sleep thing” can even effect health and shorten life. Figure it out however you need to do it, and fit everything else, around it. I had been a hazard to myself & others, being forced into the “early to rise” mode; having to drive and operate in a haze and never operating at 100%. I tried everything…I still do, occasionally…but, to no avail. It takes all kinds…and there’s plenty of places for 2nd or 3rd shift workers and some would make happier maintenance men, at night, then white collar day workers. Or be taxi/truck/deivery drivers, or nurses, or, the many other things, to do out there; while the chickens are roosting! 😉
Great point to listen to your body; that’s something that we often forget to do.
I’ve found that by far the best melatonin booster is twenty minutes out in the sun as early in the morning as possible. Twenty to thirty minutes of very easy walking, playing on the slide, or just eating breakfast out there, before 8 am, makes a gigantic difference in how well me and my children sleep.
Lori, Health Extremist
Thanks for sharing!
Supplementing melatonin isn’t good for everyone and I think it needs a big caution sign on the label. Melatonin naturally decreases cortisol levels in the body which is all good and fine but for those of us who have trouble maintaining normal cortisol levels it can be very harmful and greatly disturb sleep. I have struggled with adrenal problems for many years but went into crisis mode after starting to supplement with melatonin at night. Another strange thing – melatonin gives me stomach upset and so do cherries….I don’t understand it but I never knew cherries contained melatonin until this post. Thanks for the great info!
Try bananas, oats, pineapples, rice, tomatoes?
I’ve did quite a bit of research on insomnia when writing the article, “10 sleep tips for insomnia”: http://blissfulwriter.hubpages.com/hub/Sleep-Tips-Help-Insomnia
You are correct that to have good melatonin production, we have to sleep in complete darkness and avoid artificial lights (such as your computer screen too late at night). However, exposure to bright natural sun light during the day will increase melatonin production at night and it help circadian rhythm in sync.
Melatonin supplement might be okay if you really need it, and if you already tried all the natural remedy without success. But I would not take them long term and start with really low dose. But they are still probably safer than some of the other sleep aids out there.