How to Use Melatonin Smartly?
Ever wondered why on some days you can get sound sleep while on others you are left tossing and turning at night? While your sleep cycle is dependent on several factors, the one thing that is mainly responsible for how well you sleep at night is a hormone called melatonin. As the sun goes down, melatonin is released in the body as a signal to your brain to go into sleep mode. Because melatonin in the body naturally induces sleep, it is recommended by many doctors for sleep-deprived patients, those who work in shifts, or travel frequently. For melatonin to show its effects, it needs to be taken in the right dose, at the right time, and in the right environment. Here’s how you should take melatonin to make the best use of the supplement.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your brain's pineal glands secrete in order to regulate your sleep cycle. It also helps your body know when it's time to wake up. The process is tied to the amount of light around you. Your melatonin levels rise when the sun sets and are at their highest at night. However, its level drops significantly during the morning. Melatonin helps synchronize the circadian rhythms in various parts of your body.
A melatonin deficiency can happen due to old age, neurological diseases, and overexposure to blue light at night. Another reason why the melatonin in your body isn’t working as well as it should is due to the malfunction of melatonin receptors. For melatonin to signal your brain to sleep, it needs to send signals using the receptors. Hence, malfunctioning receptors can also be the cause of sleep deprivation.
In addition to improving sleep, melatonin benefits also include improving immunity, and reducing cortisol levels, and blood pressure. Melatonin is known to have antioxidant, anti-aging, and neuroprotective properties and has significant functions in cardiovascular diseases. Melatonin is also available as a supplement and comes in the form of instantly dissolving oral strips, pills, liquids, and chewables. Natural melatonin supplements are always better, as they act as a natural sleep aid and are less likely to cause side effects.
How does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin won't magically treat your sleeping problems, but it can help initiate sleep by resetting your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin acts as a hormonal indicator for your brain, signaling that it is time to sleep. Keep in mind that melatonin supplements are different from sleeping pills.
Sleeping pills have a sedative effect on you and slow down your brain and body functions, thus making you feel sleepy and even groggy the next day. Melatonin, on the other hand, adds to your body’s natural supply of the hormone and gently lulls you to sleep while also regulating your sleep-wake cycle by interacting naturally with your brain.
How to Take Melatonin Smartly?
Melatonin can be very effective and helpful for your body to sleep better, allowing your brain to rest. But if you want to enjoy the complete benefits of melatonin, you've got to use it smartly.
Here's how you can do that: -
Take melatonin 20-30 minutes before sleeping
Melatonin is not a sleeping pill, which is why you shouldn’t take it right before sleeping. Normally, melatonin is released as the sun goes down. Its release is a signal to your body that it is the end of the day and time to sleep. In response to the increase of melatonin at sundown, the body starts to wind up and prepare itself for rest. But that process takes some time. So, the right time to consume melatonin supplements is 20–30 minutes before sleeping.
More isn’t better!
Often, people think taking more melatonin will be even more effective. But that is not the case when it comes to taking melatonin supplements. Overusing melatonin can have consequences like: -
- High or Low BP
Melatonin can be taken in doses of 1–5 mg per day, around 20–30 minutes before you go to sleep. However, it is better to consume the recommended dosage as mentioned in your supplement.
Blue light is stronger than melatonin
If you take melatonin before going to bed but are still exposed to bright or blue light from your phone, laptop, television, etc., you may struggle to fall asleep or sleep well. When your body has taken melatonin and is exposed to light, it starts to get mixed signals and is unable to sleep.
So, to sleep peacefully, it is better to reduce or have no screen time for at least two to three hours before bed. You can change the ambiance to warm-toned lights that calm your system, as the cooler lights will give your body the idea that it is daytime.
Melatonin Shouldn't be the Solution to all Your Sleep Problems
There are many reasons affecting your sleep, be it depression or anxiety, insomnia, or regular work-life stress. Taking melatonin supplements or using sleep aids will only hide your problem temporarily, and you may not tackle the root cause.
Taking melatonin supplements can be a smart decision if your lack of sleep is due to a deficiency of melatonin or a lifestyle that prevents you from getting to sleep on time. However, if there is some other underlying issue, continuing with the melatonin dosage will only hide the real issue. Therefore, it is recommended that you consult a doctor to figure out the reason behind your insomnia and then employ the ideal solution.
Who Should Not Take Melatonin?
You must not take melatonin if you:
- High Blood Pressure: Melatonin consumption can raise blood pressure in people who are already taking medications to control it. So, it is better to avoid it if you have high blood pressure.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers – Even though there isn’t any research that confidently says melatonin is bad for pregnant and lactating mothers, please consult your doctor before you start consuming melatonin.
- Don’t mix alcohol and melatonin - Melatonin promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle, while alcohol disrupts the cycle, so drinking may interfere with melatonin’s intended function.
Consuming melatonin for better sleep is a smarter solution than taking sedatives. Rather than forcing you to sleep, it works with your system to help you sleep naturally. There are many things people don’t know about melatonin and end up having the wrong dose, at the wrong time. We hope that with this article, a lot of your doubts have been resolved and you are more aware of the right way to consume melatonin.
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