Are you taking melatonin to help you get a better night’s sleep? Or maybe you’ve been thinking, “Will melatonin help me sleep?” Do melatonin supplements work? And how does it work?
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced naturally by the body. It’s been called “Dracula’s hormone” because it only comes out in the dark. When the sun goes down, and less light enters your eyes, the brain detects that…and prompts the body to start producing melatonin. Melatonin makes you feel sleepy – AND keeps you asleep.
Here’s the thing, if you have all the lights on full force all the way until bedtime….or if you’re staring at a screen like the TV or your phone…your body isn’t going to produce nearly as much melatonin…so you don’t feel as sleepy. And, if you DO fall asleep, you may not sleep as deeply – so you don’t feel as rested the next day.
Will Melatonin Cancel Out the Effects of Light?
You’ve heard the advice to dim the lights and cut back on nightly screen time. But, maybe you’ve got shows to watch or work to do. Will taking a melatonin supplement help to cancel out the effects of all that artificial light? Probably not. Double blind studies (that’s when people don’t know what’s in the pill they’re taking) don’t fall asleep any faster – or sleep any better.
How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Here’s my suggestions. Save your money and skip the melatonin supplements. Instead,
- Dim the lights and your screen for that hour before bedtime. Perhaps turn off the overhead lights and use a reading lamp instead. What about reading a book instead of watching TV. Maybe do some stretching or enjoy some pillowtalk with your partner. And, for those of you who wake up in the middle of the night thinking about all the things you have to do, why not spend that time before bedtime writing down your plan for tomorrow. Now that it’s down on paper, it’s one less thing to worry about.
- When you turn down the bedsheets, turn out ALL the lights. Even the hall light or the light from your clock can makes it past your closed eyelids to prevent melatonin production
- Use an eye mask. And, not one of those thin one-dimensional masks. I have a soft padded one that’s really comfortable.
- Don’t check your phone in the middle of the night. If you can’t put it in another room, turn off your ringer or put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” so only emergency phone calls will wake you. Even that little bit of light from a quick peek at 2AM can trick your brain into thinking the sun is up – and shut down your melatonin production.