Sleep And Mental Health
You may now be wondering how melatonin production relates to mental health. What does a hormone that aids in sleep regulation have to do with anxiety anyway? To answer this question, lets take a step back to focus not on melatonin, but on sleep.
Sleep and mental health are very closely connected. Every 90 minutes or so, a healthy individual will cycle between four phases of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops and heart rate slows during the first sleep phase. By the fourth phase, your body is producing physiological changes that boost your immune system and prepare your nervous system for another day.
Sleep disturbances that disrupt this transition between stages of sleep can wreak havoc on your brain. Your cognitive function may become impaired, stress hormones may be released, and above all else, your emotional regulation may not function as it should.
If this happens once, you can go to bed early the next night and make up for lost sleep without worry. But if your sleep efficiency is repeatedly impacted, your mental health may suffer in return.
This is where melatonin can come to the rescue. By taking melatonin, you can help your body get the sleep it needs to stay mentally fit. Melatonin treatment can be a positive sleep aid that promotes healthier, consistent sleep. These positive effects of melatonin can thereby ensure your brain is healthy and ready to go, each and every morning.
Is It Safe To Take Melatonin
For melatonin supplements, particularly at doses higher than what the body normally produces, thereâs not enough information yet about possible side effects to have a clear picture of overall safety. Short-term use of melatonin supplements appears to be safe for most people, but information on the long-term safety of supplementing with melatonin is lacking.
Also keep in mind:
Interactions with medicines
- As with all dietary supplements, people who are taking medicine should consult their health care providers before using melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications need to be under medical supervision when taking melatonin supplements.
Possible allergic reaction risk
Safety concerns for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Safety concerns for older people
Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement
Products may not contain whatâs listed on the label
How Much Melatonin Should I Take
Your melatonin dosage depends on why youre taking it. For most people, melatonin is primarily used as a regulator of the sleep-wake cycle. In those cases, melatonin doses range from 0.3 mg to 5 mg. For countering sleep-wake cycle disruptions, melatonin dosages range from 2 mg to 12 mg.
For a short term problem, like t jet lag, dosages range from 0.5 mg to 8 mg. I recommend taking them the first day you arrive in the city until you leave, but always run it by a medical professional if youve never taken melatonin before.Dont start off with the highest dosage as with most supplements, start off at the bottom end of the miligram guidelines, and work your way up from there depending on how your body responds.
Id also recommend taking a magnesium supplement as well this is something I do as well, and my go-to is Jigsaw MagSoothe. Magnesium is important because it helps regulate the bodys melatonin production, with lower levels of magnesium usually linked to lower melatonin levels.
One more thing youll want to remember: the optimal time to take your melatonin is about a half hour to an hour before bed.
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Before You Test Out Melatonin
Before you start any melatonin, read this!
Yes, melatonin is natural, but its a hormone. Its not a great idea to mess around with hormones unnecessarily.
I highly recommend that you talk to your doctor first before starting melatonin to make sure that it is the best fit for you.
There is a laundry list of medications that can interact with melatonin.
Also, there are contraindications for using melatonin including if youre:
- On immunosuppressant therapy
- Under 20 years of age
Or if youve been diagnosed with:
- Impaired liver function
- Seizure disorder
And I invite you to consider a couple of things before you head down the route of taking melatonin.
Melatonin should not be the first thing that you try if you have trouble sleeping.
Work on your diet and a consistent bedtime.
Power down from the blue light devices and use blue light blocker glasses if thats not an option.
Try taking magnesium before bed to help you wind down.
My point is that you should do everything else first before considering melatonin.
And lastly, melatonin shouldnt be your longterm solution.
Ultimately, supplementation is a bandaid.
Yes its critical to sleep so if melatonin works for you, wonderful!
But ultimately you need to work on the underlying issue disrupting your sleep in the first place.
If you have experienced using melatonin and you’ve tried taking it at night, leave your thoughts and experiences below!
Do you know anyone who is struggling to sleep at night?
Next Steps If Youre Not Getting Relief
Taking melatonin supplements alone to treat insomnia wont be as effective as taking melatonin and also working on improving your sleep hygiene, Dr. Avidan said. Sleep hygiene refers to creating an ideal environment that promotes conditions good for sleep.
Powering down electronics and avoiding the news two hours before bedtime.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
Eschewing alcohol and caffeine at night.
Trying to get as much natural sunlight during the day as possible to orient your internal clock.
Dr. Avidan suggests that people both try these habits and take melatonin for two to three weeks to see if it helps.
While melatonin can help with the promotion of sleep, for many it does not, Dr. Salas said.
If you are stumped as to why melatonin isnt working for you, Dr. Salas recommends talking to your physician. She says it may also be time to contact a sleep specialist, as there could be other, more serious sleep issues. Dr. Avidan says he and his colleagues are currently taking virtual appointments for anyone living in the United States, so its worth inquiring whether a sleep specialist can see you remotely.
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How Many People Suffer From Insomnia
If youre experiencing insomnia lately, it turns out youre not alone. Insomnia affects millions of people. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that:
- 30% of adults experience brief periods of insomnia.
- 15 to 20% have insomnia for less than three months.
- 10% have chronic insomnia that affects how their ability to function during the daytime.
What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin
Short-term use of melatonin has relatively few side effects and is well-tolerated by the majority of people who take it. The most commonly reported side effects are daytime drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness, but these are experienced by only a small percentage of people who take melatonin.
In children, the reported side effects of short-term use are similar as in adults. Some children may experience agitation or an increased risk of bedwetting when using melatonin.
For both children and adults, talking with a doctor before taking melatonin can help prevent possible allergic reactions or harmful interactions with other medications. People taking anti-epilepsy and blood thinning medications, in particular, should ask their physician about potential drug interactions.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends against melatonin use in people with dementia, and there is little research about its safety in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There is also very little data about the long-term effects of melatonin supplements in children or adults. There is some concern that sustained use of melatonin could affect the onset of puberty in children, but research so far is inconclusive. Because the long-term effects are unknown, people should maintain an ongoing conversation with their doctor about using melatonin and the quality of their sleep and overall health.
The Magic Amino Acid For Sleep
Remember how we talked about glycine and how it’s highly concentrated in collagen? Well, as it turns out, studies show glycine can help you get that elusive restful sleep.
Let’s talk more about how glycine and how it can help sleep and other benefits too!
Glycine is not only an amino acid but also a neurotransmitter. That means it has the ability to both stimulate the brain and nervous system or quiet it.
It’s also been used for patients who have experienced the most common type of stroke.
These are the main functions of glycine in your body:
- Collagen protein builder
- Aids in food digestion, especially fatty foods
- Helps produce creatine
- Regulates blood sugar and moves sugar around the body for energy
- Supports your immune system by speeding healing and lowering inflammation
- Helps your body make the hormone serotonin which positively affects sleep and mood
When Melatonin Can And Can’t Help
Some people with certain kinds of sleep disorders may get some relief from melatonin, research suggests, but theres less evidence for its use with more common forms of insomnia, according to the NIHs National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
A 2013 meta-analysis found that on average, people with insomnia fell asleep about 7 minutes faster with melatonin than with a placebo. While most melatonin side effects are mild, CRs survey showed that people may be taking it in unsafe ways, for example, driving too soon after taking it or taking it long term when theres little data indicating that longer than three months is safe.
Because of the lack of evidence, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends clinicians not use melatonin as a treatment for insomnia.
But that doesnt mean it cant help anyone.
About 5 to 10 percent of people may feel sleepy after taking melatonin, says Alcibiades Rodriguez, MD, the medical director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center at New York University.
Usually the people that get more benefit are the elderly, maybe 70 or older, and young patients, he says. Thats because older patients and young children are less likely to produce sufficient melatonin on their own, though its important to consult a medical professional before giving a child melatonin. Theres still little research on melatonin in kids and some concern about how it might affect development, especially around puberty.
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Use Melatonin To Promote Sleep Onset 2 Hours Before Bedtime
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in your body, is generally released as the sun goes down, flipping a switch in the body to initiate a change towards rest and recovery.
Thornes Melaton-3, which contains 3 mg of melatonin per capsule, helps maintain your normal sleep-wake cycle otherwise known as your circadian rhythm.* For individuals who have difficulty sleeping or altered circadian rhythms due to jet lag or night shift work supplementation with melatonin can promote the resynchronization of this cycle.*
An adequate melatonin level is reported to be a decisive factor in cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and bone health. Research indicates melatonin exerts its sleep-promoting action by decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, improving the ability to stay asleep, and improving the length of deep sleep.
According to sleep expert Leslie Swanson, Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, smaller doses of melatonin supplements produce similar levels to what the brain produces naturally. Once you go highly above this range, melatonin levels may rise to be 10 times the normal amount that the body produces on its own. This is where the negative side effects of melatonin occasionally come into play according to the NIH, these can include headache, dizziness, nausea and sleepiness experienced the day after use. Swanson notes that a larger dose will not necessarily make the use of the supplement more effective.
What Are Some Other Ways To Improve Sleep
You can improve sleep by keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet, and switching off cell phones and other screens an hour before bedtime. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and exposure to sunlight in the morning may also help regulate your natural melatonin levels. Tell your healthcare provider if you suspect you may have a sleep disorder, as this may require additional treatment.
Rem Vs Deep Sleep: Whats The Difference
Before looking at any connection between melatonin and dreams, it helps to understand the two main stages of sleep.
- Non-REM sleep: When does non-REM sleep occur? This phase occurs first and is the change from wakefulness to sleep that consists of three sub-phases. It starts with a short, light sleep, where your heartbeat, breathing and eye movements slow down and your muscles start to relax, followed by another light sleep where your body and brain slow down and relax even further. Finally, you reach the deep sleep phase that you need to feel refreshed in the morning.2
- REM sleep: When does REM sleep occur? This initially happens about 60 to 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side , your brain activity increases, your breathing gets faster and irregular, and your heart rate increases. Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep, although some can also occur in non-REM sleep. Also, memory is processed and stored during the REM sleep cycle.2 Your first REM period is short , but as the night goes on, youll experience longer REM sleep and less deep sleep.3
Youre not in each stage of sleep just once. Instead, you cycle repeatedly through all stages of sleep roughly four to six times a night, sometimes waking up briefly between cycles.4 How long is a sleep cycle? A full sleep cycle takes about 90 to 110 minutes.3
Benefits Of Melatonin For Whoop Members Sleep & Recovery
To better quantify the benefits of melatonin, we examined WHOOP members sleep and recovery data when they report taking it. What we discovered makes a fairly convincing case that it can have a positive effect on your sleep.
On average, taking melatonin positively affects WHOOP members sleep and recovery.
Potential confounding factors were taken into account as well, meaning our analysis controlled for other sleep-promoting behaviors that you might also try when taking melatonin.
Overall we found these numbers were consistent for both men and women, however the benefits of melatonin on both sleep time and recovery diminished with age.
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You Can Use Supplements To Help With Muscle Repair While You Sleep
Thornes Recovery Pro product is a bundle within a bundle. Our research & development team set out to pair three nutrients together to optimize recovery and support quality sleep.* We have taken the all-important mineral magnesium and combined it with the neurotransmitter GABA and a quality whey protein source.
We mentioned GABA briefly in discussing magnesiums role in binding to the receptors in the brain that harness GABA, but what does this neurotransmitter do, and why is it essential for sleep? Thornes PharmaGABA is a natural source of the calming neurotransmitter that has been shown to promote restful sleep.*
Research has shown that PharmaGABA intake 30 minutes before bedtime demonstrated several benefits. One study of GABA showed a significant decrease in the time it took to fall asleep.* Just as magnesium plays a role in supporting GABAs function in the brain, GABA plays a synergistic role with whey protein in promoting muscle recovery and muscle mass gain. In a recent study, when PharmaGABA was combined with whey protein in non-athlete strength-trained participants, total body lean muscle mass increased significantly when compared to those taking just whey protein.
Even when not supported by GABA, whey protein consumed at night is known to promote muscle recovery and growth during the sleep phase.
Are There Side Effects
Deuster’s review looked at the reporting of adverse effects across all 35 studies, and found nothing serious. The most commonly reported side effect was drowsiness and headache.
But Scheer says there are some cases where melatonin can have adverse effects. For some people with a particular genetic variant, melatonin impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose. “It’s not harmless,” he says.
The risks of long-term use have also not been assessed. “There are no clear studies beyond six months of duration on melatonin’s use,” Scheer says.
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Does Melatonin Work For Shift Workers
Shift work that involves night shifts may cause people to feel sleepy at work and make it difficult to sleep during the daytime after a shift ends.
According to two 2014 research reviews, studies on whether melatonin supplements help shift workers were generally small or inconclusive.
- The first review looked at 7 studies that included a total of 263 participants. The results suggested that people taking melatonin may sleep about 24 minutes longer during the daytime, but other aspects of sleep, such as time needed to fall asleep, may not change. The evidence, however, was considered to be of low quality.
- The other review looked at 8 studies , with a total of 300 participants, to see whether melatonin helped promote sleep in shift workers. Six of the studies were high quality, and they had inconclusive results. The review did not make any recommendations for melatonin use in shift workers.