I’ve been experimenting with melatonin supplements as a natural sleep aid. When I have enough melatonin being naturally produced in my system, it’s because I get a good half hour of morning sunshine each day, and because I put myself in quiet and darkness for sleeping each night. When I’m stressed, my melatonin is sucked away and that affects my ability to achieve restful sleep. Not good. Sleep is crucial and affects all aspects of health. Reasons to get enough sleep include improving learning and memory, balancing metabolism and weight, preventing mistakes, enhancing mood, promoting cardiovascular health and supporting stronger immune function.
Melatonin is the primary hormone of the pineal gland that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the 24-four hour cycle driving physiological processes of the body and determines when to fall asleep and when to awaken. This rhythm is balanced by the dark and light cycle of the day where darkness stimulates melatonin production and light suppresses its activity.
The “clock” that regulates the circadian rhythm is located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) which are a group of cells located in the hypothalamus. The SCN receives info about the amount of light through the eyes, interprets the info and sends it to the pineal gland, which secretes melatonin in response. The melatonin cycle may be disrupted by many influences, compromising health. Common disturbances may be due to overexposure to light in the evening and lack of sunlight during the day, jet lag, poor vision. Growing evidence shows that low-frequency electromagnetic fields also interferes with melatonin’s action.
So here all along we thought we had insomnia that we needed to take prescription medication for, or drink ourselves into a state of feeling relaxed enough to sleep, and all it is for most is just low melatonin levels. Did you get from the above why your melatonin levels are low? You are not in complete darkness on a daily basis, and you are surrounded by electronic equipment 24 hours a day. Both of these things suppress the melatonin level. A big offender is falling asleep in front of the tv, and those all-night sessions on the internet. Ah, are you getting the connection now, why you might be feeling under-slept and under-rested?
I know not to fall asleep with the tv on. The only type of light that does not affect melatonin production is red light. And it’s not just the retina of our eyes that register light and react to it. The cells of our body also react to light and sound and remain on active standby while we’re asleep. I wrote in 15 Simple Steps to Reboot A Sluggish System that just as poinsettas in the garden need 6 hours of darkness every 24 hours in order to bloom and grow, just so our mind and body does better when we have quiet darkness to sleep in. Remember, melatonin is secreted in darkness and suppressed in light. Morning sunlight increases the level of melatonin in your bloodstream at night, which induces sleep.
I know to put myself in the complete silence and darkness for good nightly sleep, and if I want to quickly recupe from any frazzling or stressful situations. I didn’t know why I did that until I researched it, but my guidance system lets me know when I need to cut off the light and sound. I turn my digital clock so I don’t see it when I get up during sleeping time. My room is pitch black, and cool with air blowing right on me. I don’t keep sound on in the background, when the choice is silence.
Doing this once every 24 hours is a big key to my ongoing peace of mind, and my happy, optimistic disposition. And it definitely soothes any frazzled edges.
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