Overcoming Sleepless Nights with Melatonin
By Sara Jane Adkins
I have always had trouble sleeping, especially on nights before an eventful day.
As a young girl, I would stay up for hours thinking about what would happen at school the next day and my weekends were spent sleeping late and waking up early to go to the local church with grandma.
I use to always think that the trouble I had with getting adequate sleep was a personal issue but have since found out that I definitely wasn’t alone.
Unfortunately, there are many people who experience restless nights and have trouble falling asleep.
In a study done by the CDC, it was found that roughly 50-70 million Americans suffer from a sleeping disorder.
While we are recommended to get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, of the 74,571 respondents who were surveyed, up to 35.3% stated that they slept less than 7 hours a night.
What is even worse is that 37.9% of these adults admitted to unintentionally falling asleep during the daytime at least once in the past 30 days while they engaged in important activities which included: driving and even while on the job.
If that isn’t scary enough, there are even damaging effects that not getting enough sleep can have on your health.
Receiving inadequate sleep has been associated with increased risks to other health conditions such as: diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart failure, heart attacks and heart disease.
Moreover, 90% of people who suffer from insomnia also report to have at least one other health condition.
As a society that is always on the move, we owe it to ourselves to get more rest and recharge our bodies.
While there are many ways to help improve the quality of our sleep, one that I have found to be extremely helpful for me is using the over-the-counter dietary supplement, melatonin.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that supports our sleep and wake cycles. It is produced by our pineal gland, which is a very small gland found in the human brain.
The level of melatonin rises in our bodies when it gets darker and urges our bodies to go to sleep.
Since it is available in a supplement form, many people buy melatonin as an over-the-counter pill and use it to:
- Combat the pesky feeling of jet lag
- Assist in the treatment of insomnia
- Help with regulating sleeping patterns after a drastic change in their work schedule
Are there any side effects when using Melatonin?
Since melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement, no prescription is required to purchase it. I can just pick it up from a shelf at the pharmacy when I need a refill.
Also, I am never asked for identification to verify my age which would lead me to assume that the risks associated with taking Melatonin are minimal but I would recommend that you review this supplement with your physician before you begin using it to be sure that it is safe.
Other tips to help you sleep better
Turn off your electronics
When I was growing up, my grandfather would sleep with the television on every single night.
As if the contraption had some sort of drowsy, sleep-inducing power, he refused to go to bed without the flickering lights lulling him to sleep.
Thanks to modern-day studies, it is now known that playing with your cellphone or watching television actually hinders you from having a good night’s rest. Turn them off and try to relax.
Maintain a schedule
We are all creatures of habit and require some sort of structure to encourage recurring behaviors.
When you set a bedtime for yourself, you are telling your body that it is time to shut down. Over time, you should see a positive effect in going to bed at the same time every night.
Have a drink
No, I am not talking about a shot or a glass of hard liquor, but there are many beverages that you can have before bed to help stimulate a good night’s rest.
I usually opt for a hot cup of caffeine-free tea but have recently started drinking warm cups of milk, which have been working wonders for relaxation. Another great tip is adding a bit of casein protein to your milk, which has been shown to help improve sleep quality.
All in all, melatonin has worked great for me and I truly believe that it is an excellent sleep aid. If you are having trouble sleeping, remember to be sure to consult with your physician before taking any new supplements.
Ask them what they think about the supplement and for a recommended dosage. Everyone’s body is unique and reacts differently when introduced to new supplements so please be thoughtful and proceed with caution.
Sara Jane Adkins is a writer, food-lover and mother. Founder of Natural Healthy Living, she inspires people to become more nutritionally conscious while still enjoying the foods that they love to eat.
Her articles have appeared on Calorie Count, Share Care, Healthy Fit Natural, and the Chicago Tribune. Meet Sara, join her growing community, and live a healthier lifestyle by visiting Natural Healthy Living.