How Do Doctors Use Melatonin
Sleep doctors may use melatonin to help patients with circadian rhythm disorders regulate their sleep-wake cycles. For example, during the pandemic, Dr. Avidan said, weve seen those people who become super night owls unable to fall asleep until 2 or 3 a.m.
Experts also suggest people use a bright light in the mornings to help them wake up, which has alerting properties and can suppress any remaining melatonin production, said Dr. Abbott.
The Best Natural Sleep Aids Are The Ones Money Cant Buy
Itâs 1:45 a.m., and youâre wide awake. After tossing and turning and trying to fall asleep for well over an hour, you reach for your phone and start Googling desperately: âbest natural sleep aid,â âsleep supplements,â âinsomnia cures,â âWhat is wrong with me, and why canât I fall asleep?â
Your queries produce seemingly endless results â from herbal supplements and prescription sleeping pills to meditation apps and essential oils. Next thing you know, 45 minutes have passed, and youâve worked yourself into a search frenzy that has only made you more anxious and restless.
As anyone who has found themselves sleeplessly slipping down a similar rabbit hole can attest: Sleep problems are beyond frustrating. And not getting the sleep your body needs can cause a cascade of symptoms that may feel more like an avalanche: excessive daytime drowsiness, low energy, irritability, brain fog, and loss of productivity.
Well, what if we told you that the best natural sleep aid isnât something you can buy? Itâs something you can do â and it wonât require you to get out your credit card or arrange for shipping.
Sleep Quality Vs Sleep Duration
Often people equate sleep duration as the key indicator of sleep quality. On its own, it is not. Total sleep time is not as crucial to avoiding the harmful effects of sleep deprivation as time spent on sleep quality. The standard criteria of sleep quality cited by many are based on these indicators:
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less.
- Waking up no more than once per night.
- Being awake for 20 minutes or more after initially falling asleep.
However, while these indicators are important, what is a bigger indicator of sleep quality is the time spent in the deeper stages of non-REM sleep coupled with sufficient REM sleep. As people hit their mid-40s to age fifty, in addition to a number of health issues that can lead to increased nighttime awakenings , there is a decline in REM, and they tend to awaken at the transition from non-REM to REM sleep. As a result, there is also a reduced time spent in deep sleep stages 3 and 4. These changes can lead to many people over 45 years of age dealing with poor sleep quality and lower energy levels.
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How To Avoid Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills aren’t right for everyone. They can interact with other drugs. If you’re pregnant, they may harm your unborn baby.
You may also be concerned about the potential for addiction. Or, you may dislike the side effects.
Fortunately, there are other ways to manage insomnia. You may find it helpful to simply change your sleep habits.
- Start by keeping a regular bedtime and wake time. This will help reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.
- Avoid naps during the day. They can reduce your bodyâs natural desire for sleep.
- Reduce the time you spend awake in bed . Use your bed only for sex and sleep. If you can’t sleep, get up until you feel sleepy.
Other alternatives for treating insomnia include:
Can Promote Eye Health
Melatonin is high in antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage and keep your eyes healthy.
In fact, research suggests that melatonin could be beneficial in treating conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration .
In a study in 100 people with AMD, supplementing with 3 mg of melatonin for 624 months helped protect the retina, delay age-related damage and preserve visual clarity .
Additionally, a rat study found that melatonin decreased the severity and incidence of retinopathy an eye disease that affects the retina and can result in vision loss .
However, research is limited and additional human studies are needed to determine the effects of long-term melatonin supplements on eye health.
Melatonin is high in antioxidants and has been shown to treat eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy in human and animal studies.
Melatonin has been shown to block the secretion of stomach acids. It also decreases the production of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to enter your esophagus .
For this reason, some research suggests that melatonin may be used to treat heartburn and GERD.
One study in 36 people showed that taking melatonin alone or with omeprazole a common GERD medication was effective at relieving heartburn and discomfort .
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What Sleep Aid Can You Take With High Blood Pressure
While natural sleep aids are fine for most people, even gentle sleep aids like melatonin could have negative side effects depending on age or when paired with certain prescription medications. Folks with health concerns like high blood pressure should always consult their doctor or primary care provider before taking any herbal supplements.
How Effective Are Sleeping Pills
Studies show that sleeping pills arent that helpful in promoting a good nights rest. Most people who take sleep aids fall asleep about eight to 20 minutes faster than those without medicine. On average, you might get an additional 35 minutes of shuteye.
Generally, sleep aids should be for short-term use. They may be most helpful if a stressful life event, such as a divorce or death in the family, is keeping you awake.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Beats Sleeping Pills
Many people complain that frustrating, negative thoughts and worries prevent them from sleeping at night. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems by modifying negative thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behavior.
A study at Harvard Medical School even found that CBT was more effective at treating chronic insomnia than prescription sleep medicationbut without the risks or side effects. CBT can help to relax your mind, change your outlook, improve your daytime habits, and set you up for a good night’s sleep.
Can I Take A Sleep Aid Every Night
Sleeping pills can cause side effects, and certain medications, such as antihistamines may not be suitable for long-term use.
A person should work with a doctor to determine what is causing their insomnia before taking sleep medications every night. A doctor will be able to advise on the best and most sustainable way to treat insomnia.
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How Can I Sleep Better Without Sleeping Pills
You may want to:
- Avoid large meals and alcohol before bed.
- Cut back on caffeine, including coffee, sodas and chocolate, throughout the day and especially before bedtime.
- Relax with soothing music, a good book or meditation.
- Shut off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Stay physically active during the day. Try to get outside, if possible.
- Stick to a sleep schedule even on weekends.
- Turn your bedroom into a dark, quiet and cool sanctuary.
Sleep Is A Dynamic State
Sleep is not a static process, there is a lot of activity taking place in successive approximately 90-minute cycles. The sleep cycle begins with stage 1 non-REM sleep, should progress through stages 2 and 3 to stage 4 non-REM sleep, and then, for some reason, the brain suddenly becomes much more active and triggers REM sleep. In adults, the first REM sleep cycle lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. We rarely remember these dreams, because, after the flurry of REM activity, brain wave patterns return to those of non-REM sleep for another 90-minute sleep cycle. With each subsequent cycle, the time spent in REM sleep increases. Each night most adults experience five or more sleep cycles . The last sleep cycle , may produce a REM sleep period that can last about an hour.
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Chloral Hydrate And Clomethiazole
and are older drugs with many side effects, including possible dependence. Chloral hydrate is a liquid drug, but it may also be available in tablet form called cloral betaine. And clomethiazole may also be spelled chlomethiazole.
These drugs are not usually offered nowadays as medication for insomnia. But they may be used in some rare circumstances. Your doctor may avoid prescribing you these medications if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. They may also be cautious about prescribing them if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or a diagnosis of a personality disorder.
If you are chloral hydrate, you should avoid it coming into contact with your skin as it may cause skin damage.
Melatonin For Sleep: Does It Work
Melatonin sleep aids are growing in popularity, with 3 million Americansusing them in 2012, according to a nationwide survey from the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention. If youre among them or are consideringmelatonin for sleep, its smart to understand exactly how melatonin works.
Your body produces melatonin naturally. It doesnt make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep, explains Johns Hopkins sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., C.B.S.M.
Most peoples bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own. However, there are steps you can take to make the most of your natural melatonin production, or you can try a supplement on a short-term basis if youre experiencing insomnia, want to overcome jet lag, or are a night owl who needs to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier, such as for work or school.
If youd like to harness melatonins sleep-inducing effects, Buenaver recommends taking these steps.
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Takeaways For A Restful Slumber
There are numerous natural sleep aids that can help you get a better nights sleep, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Choosing natural solutions like the ones above can also be great for your overall well-being. They can support your bone health, boost your mood, and contribute to a more restful sleep.
Have a natural sleep aid tip we missed? Or, perhaps a product you cant live without? Feel free to share your story with our community!
May Help Treat Acid Reflux And Gerd
Melatonin may help alleviate acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux by protecting the lining of your esophagus the tube that connects your throat and stomach against irritants such as acid, alcohol, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
For example, one study showed that taking melatonin inhibits an enzyme system that damages the esophageal epithelial barrier, which is responsible for protecting deeper layers of your esophagus from damage.
Damage to the esophageal epithelial barrier is known to cause acid reflux and GERD and may eventually lead to more severe health complications such as cancer (
A review of five studies concluded that melatonin use alone or alongside tinnitus medications may manage this condition while improving sleep. However, these studies were of low quality, limiting the strength of the reviews findings .
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Why Not Melatonin As A Natural Sleep Aid
When talking about natural sleep aids, melatonin is usually the #1 which comes to mind. Melatonin is the natural hormone which our bodies produce in response to darkness. But, just because melatonin in our bodies is natural, it doesnt mean taking melatonin pills is safe and healthy.
First off, lets clarify that melatonin is a hormone. Our bodies produce it from serotonin. You need healthy levels of both serotonin and melatonin to sleep well. Melatonin is primarily responsible for regulating the circadian clock whereas serotonin triggers sleep and REM . Just taking melatonin isnt going to solve your sleep problems. The one time when taking melatonin may be okay is when you need to reset your sleep schedule, such as when starting a new job with different hours or recuperating from jet lag.
Melatonin is a hormone, and taking melatonin pills means you are taking hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is very controversial because it causes your body to produce less of the hormone being taken. If you take melatonin, your body will stop producing so much melatonin! You soon become dependent on the melatonin pills to get to sleep.
What Are Alternatives For Chronic Insomnia
Sleep doctors strongly urge people with chronic insomnia to seek out cognitive behavioral therapy, a short-term psychological treatment that can help get to the root of the problem.
If you give melatonin to a patient and you dont complement it with behavioral therapy for insomnia, you may not necessarily see the effects that youre looking for, Dr. Avidan said.
Many common behaviors can also make it harder for us to fall and stay asleep, including using our phones near bedtime, which can hamper natural melatonin production. Meditation may help, as can warm showers and cool bedrooms, or giving up caffeine and alcohol.
There are a lot of other things people could do to help themselves sleep better, Dr. Martin said. Theyre just harder.
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Ingredients & Potential Interactions
It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.
Many sleep aids contain more than one active ingredient, some of which the safety is unknown. The above section supplements we do not recommend at this time has more details on ingredients we suggest to avoid in your sleep supplements.
Where Else To Buy The Sleep Aids
In the US, Ive seen several of the sleep aids in this article sold in stores such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Duane Reade, Acme, Walmart, and Target, as well as smaller independent pharmacies.
The sleep aids containing melatonin might not be available in your country. I bought them when living in the US, but have been unable to find them when Im in the UK because melatonin isnt sold over the counter in the UK.
In the UK, you can find a range of sleep aids in some supermarkets and chemists, such as Boots. They tend to stock herbal sleep aids, and sometimes antihistamine sleep aids.
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Other Popular Natural Sleep Aids
All other sleep supplements are like melatonin in that they can’t make up for poor sleep hygiene. Nor can they treat recognized sleep disorders like insomnia. Instead, they are meant to serve an adjunctâsupplementaryârole in an otherwise healthy nightly routine.
There is limited research on how various ingredients affect sleep in healthy people, but here are a few non-melatonin sleep aids that have gained popularity in recent years, and the science we have on them:
May Alleviate Migraine Attacks
A migraine attack is a recurring type of headache that causes severe, throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on the side of your head.
Several prescription drugs help treat migraine, but melatonin may also offer relief due to its ability to inhibit pain sensations .
In a review of 11 studies, taking melatonin significantly reduced migraine severity and frequency compared with a placebo in both children and adults, but with varying effectiveness .
A different review of 25 studies found similar results, suggesting that taking 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime reduced migraine frequency in adults .
Melatonin may support eye health, ease tinnitus symptoms, treat acid reflux and GERD, and alleviate migraine attacks, but stronger evidence is needed for these uses.
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Alternative Natural Remedies For Sleep
Other natural remedies may help promote sleep, although there is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support their use.
Some people may feel as though they fall asleep more easily or wake up feeling more refreshed after using:
Anyone considering using these foods and supplements as sleep aids should consult a doctor before doing so.
Carlyle Melatonin 12 Mg Fast Dissolve Tablets
If you have trouble taking pills, you’ll love this dissolvable sleep aid. Each tablet contains 12 mg of melatonin that will help to regulate your sleep cycle, which can get off-balance thanks to busy lifestyles, traveling, stress, and even blue light exposure from electronic devices and traveling. While the Sleep Foundation recommends starting with a melatonin dose between 0.5 mg and 5 mg, since this one contains a higher concentration, you could use a pill-cutter to divide the tablets in half or quarters to create a smaller starting dose â which .
“As a healthcare worker that works 12 long hours at night, it is important to get home and get to sleep fast to be on my best and well-rested,” said a customer. “This is it. I do not feel drowsy and it works quickly. The taste is a refreshing berry and not chalky. I went with 12 mg because I wanted to sleep well and not wake up a few hours later to have to re-dose. Highly recommend.”
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