If you’re experiencing jet lag, unbalanced circadian rhythms (it’s real), or sleep deprivation, you may think you need to take melatonin supplements to reverse the problem. But melatonin tablets aren’t the only way to increase your levels. Thankfully, there are several natural ways that don’t even involve taking a pill or driving to your closet pharmacy. Ready for an amazing night of sleep? If so, let’s dive in and discuss what melatonin is, what causes a melatonin deficiency, and how to boost your natural production.
What Is ‘Melatonin’?
Melatonin is a sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates sleep and controls our circadian sleep rhythms and sleeping patterns. Its levels are highest at night and lowest during the day. While the body naturally produces melatonin, many use melatonin supplementation that mimics the sleep hormone to aid the many important benefits balanced melatonin levels provide. But taking melatonin alone won’t solve your long-term sleep problems.
Why is Melatonin Important?
Melatonin is an important hormone because of its function. Darkness signals the pineal gland to boost melatonin, while light does the reverse; it signals it to stop. In turn, melatonin controls our sleep wake cycle and promotes restful sleep. Yet, a decrease in melatonin can produce harmful effects on our mental and physical health.
14 Melatonin Deficiency Symptoms
A deficiency in melatonin can cause various mental and physical problems that can disrupt your ability to enjoy your life. Here are a list of signs and symptoms to look out for to start your journey to achieving better sleep quality.
- Concentration problems
- Mood changes
- Menopausal symptoms
- Irritable bowel
- Increased aging
- Jet lag
- Sleep disturbances
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
5 Melatonin Deficiency Causes
Did you know as you get older, your melatonin levels naturally decrease? It’s true, but age isn’t the only cause.
- Artificial light. The brain operates within natural sleep-wake cycles according to darkness and light. Even artificial light can confuse the body and wake you up far before you’re ready.
- Overnight work. Those who work overnight shifts often experience disruptions to their melatonin levels due to an off-balanced circadian rhythm.
- Frequent jet lag. Similar to shift work, those who travel frequently also experience melatonin deficiency. Their internal clock becomes confused with the changes in adjusting to different day-night cycles.
- Stress. High cortisol levels can also cause imbalanced melatonin production.
10 Ways to Boost Melatonin Naturally
1.Eat a diet rich in tryptophan foods
Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a role in melatonin production. It supports melatonin by raising serotonin. This means eating foods rich in tryptophan aid your sleep and boosts your happiness – double win. For example, foods like nuts, seeds, tofu, grains, and spirulina are a few choices from a great list of 12 foods that produce serotonin naturally.
2. Banish light from your room
Remember darkness triggers your brain to produce melatonin? That’s right, and light does the reverse. So, try to keep your bedroom as dimly lit as possible. For example, close the curtains and remove any sneaky blue light and any other unwanted light. As a result, you will prepare and train your body for a better sleep-wake cycle.
3. Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule keeps your body’s internal clock in check and trains you to wake up and fall asleep more easily. This rule also applies to the weekends. It may be tempting to sleep in, but you will be more thankful if you pull yourself out of bed on your days off.
4. Limit screen time
It’s a hard habit to stop, but scrolling at night or even falling asleep to a movie contributes to your sleep problems. Cellphones, laptops, computers, and tablets all emit blue light. This blue light is disruptive to your circadian rhythms and even blocks melatonin production. Therefore, reducing exposure can help you fall asleep more peacefully.
5. More sunlight during the day
Getting your daily dose of sunshine works behind the scenes and primes you for deep sleep ahead. This occurs because sunlight boosts serotonin which is the precursor to melatonin – it can’t work properly without the other. Before work, try to get outside and bathe in the sunlight to ensure you receive better sleep in the evening. You won’t regret it.
6. Relax as much as possible
Meditation (9 tips and guided meditations), mindfulness, and yoga are all ways that will relax your mind and body before bed. When you prioritize these relaxing habits, your brain will release more melatonin by responding to a quieter and calmer environment. Whether yin yoga is your jam (our favorite 20-minute yoga workout) or a quick 10-minute meditation, you’ll be grateful you prioritized a bedtime practice.
7. Hydration is key
This tip is more about switching to water to reduce your caffeine intake. As you know, caffeine sparks your energy levels and can affect your ability to sleep. For some, even the smallest amount can leave them tossing and turning for hours before falling asleep. So, try to limit your cup of coffee a few hours before bed and instead turn to water or another caffeine-free beverage to hydrate.
8. Move your body
Exercise is a natural treatment for melatonin deficiency because it releases hormones that boost production. But try to move your body earlier in the day because, at night, it can produce the reverse effect – keep you awake!
9. Reduce your stress levels
This habit is not the easiest to practice, especially with the current stressors happening in the world (Hello, pandemic). But cortisol is a stress hormone that disrupts natural melatonin production. Depending on what’s causing your stress, it’s worth eliminating it as much as possible. Maybe it’s refraining from working at night, checking your emails, or talking to a family member (learn how to set healthy boundaries). Bedtime journaling is also an effective way to release the stress from your mind and allow the pen to drain any anxiety.
10. Talk to your doctor
It’s not the most fun way to reverse a melatonin deficiency, but it is effective. Indeed, talking to your doctor about your sleep problems can help determine a potential underlying cause. For example, if you’re consistently struggling to fall asleep at night, a doctor could rule out whether insomnia or another condition is playing a role.
Above all, remember, melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates your circadian rhythms and promotes restful sleep. Using any of the natural tips in this article will help you reverse your melatonin deficiency and make you feel better to take on the day.
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