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What Is Melatonin and How Can It Help Me Sleep?

04 July, 2023

Is there anything worse than waking up feeling more tired than when you went to sleep? 


Despite trying everything you can — from white noise machines to blackout eye masks — getting a good night’s kip can be a lot easier said than done. You may have even found yourself recently turning to social media for help, trying to find the latest trend to help you get to sleep more easily

While a lot of these trends don’t always work out, if you’ve seen melatonin advertised while scrolling on your phone in the early hours, you may have found yourself what it is. 

Well, we’re here to tell you all about it. 

In this blog, join us as we run you through what melatonin is, how it works and why it could be the sleeping aid you’ve been looking for. 

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that your body’s pineal gland produces in response to a lack of daylight being available.

During the day, your body will naturally release less melatonin as your eyes let in the daylight. As the day goes on, however, and darkness starts to steadily roll in, your pineal gland will start to secrete higher levels of melatonin to make you feel more sleepy. This is known as the sleep-wake cycle. 

When this cycle gets out of whack, you may find yourself struggling to sleep at night, due to the associated impact on your body’s melatonin production. 

This can happen for a number of reasons, such as: 

  • Working shift work

  • Travelling and different time zones

  • Being overweight

  • Getting older

  • Exposure to blue light (this comes from electronics like your phone)

  • Lack of daylight (this is more common during the winter when the days are shorter)

Despite having a disrupted level of melatonin production, there are several things you can do to fix it. Read on to find out what these are. 

The science of melatonin and sleep 

Melatonin doesn’t just help you sleep — it affects your quality of sleep too. 

A study published last year, for example, found that melatonin increased the duration and quality of sleep in people with disease-related sleep disorders. 

However, this contradicted another study that looked into the impact of melatonin use in children who had been using it since childhood — no significant differences were found between the group of children that had used melatonin, versus another that hadn’t. 

Although there are conflicting results with the quality of sleep, we do know that melatonin can impact how quickly you fall asleep, how long you stay asleep and how rested you feel when you wake up. Research has found that melatonin reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases how long you stay asleep by approximately 30 minutes.

Lack of sleep can be caused by more than just staying up and using your phone. Sometimes, it could be due to a pre-existing sleep disorder. 

Jet lag is considered a temporary sleep disorder, for instance, and melatonin has been shown in studies to counteract its effects. It has also been shown to help with insomnia, a condition known to affect approximately one in three people in the UK

Melatonin production and circadian rhythm

Melatonin production is essential for your body’s circadian rhythm — an internal 24-hour body clock that runs in the background while you go about your daily life. Melatonin helps to maintain your circadian rhythm by ensuring your body signals the right times to either sleep or wake up. 

However, while this may all sound great in principle, our modern lifestyle of staying up late binge-watching Netflix and scrolling through Instragam can easily throw our circadian rhythm off balance. 

This is because light exposure can prevent your body from producing melatonin. This means that sleeping with the light on, or laying in bed with too many bright lights around you, will make it much harder for you to fall (and stay) asleep. 

The sun also emits blue light, which is similar to the the light that’s given off by devices like smartphones. This type of light can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm and melatonin production, by tricking your brain into thinking that it’s daytime when it’s actually not. This is why putting your phone down before bed is one of the best ways to help ensure a good night’s sleep! 

There are several other ways to boost your melatonin production naturally. Here are some of our top tips: 

  • Use dim lights at night

  • Limit your coffee intake — especially from the afternoon onwards

  • Enjoy the sunlight during the day 

  • Eat a well-balanced diet

  • Try to relax in the evenings — read a book or take a warm bath to calm your body and your mind

Melatonin supplements

Sometimes you can try all the tricks in the book to boost your melatonin production and still find yourself staring at the ceiling. When this happens, melatonin supplements are there to help and are readily available online and in pharmacies and health food shops.

Melatonin supplements do exactly what they say on the tin — they supplement your body’s melatonin levels. By taking these supplements, you’ll not only boost your level of melatonin but you’ll also notice that your sleep schedule should return to normal. 

It’s important that you buy melatonin supplements from trusted suppliers that only use safe ingredients, as well as be vigilant about unknown sources online. Never buy melatonin supplements without doing thorough research into the supplier — you want to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. 

Here at Hormones And You, we offer melatonin supplements as part of our services to help you get back to sleep. 

Dosage and timing

Whenever you start taking melatonin supplements, you will need to start on a lower dose of 2mg and you should take them approximately 1–2 hours before bedtime. These will then slowly release melatonin during the night, helping you stay asleep for longer. 

If you find that 2mg isn’t working for you, you can then increase your dosage. The maximum dose that’s recommended is 10mg a day.

Side effects

Like all supplements, melatonin can have some side effects. Common side effects can include: 

  • Feeling tired during the day

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Dry/itchy skin

  • Strange dreams 

  • Night sweats

While these side effects tend to be quite mild, make sure to speak to your doctor if they start getting worse or become unmanageable. 

Who cannot take melatonin

Melatonin supplements might not be suitable for everyone to use. You should avoid taking melatonin if you:

  • Have had an allergic reaction to melatonin or other medicines 

  • Have liver or kidney problems

  • Have rheumatoid arthritis

  • Have multiple sclerosis

  • Have lupus or other autoimmune health conditions

Natural sources of melatonin

Certain foods can be a great source of melatonin and can easily be incorporated into your diet to help you get to sleep more easily. These include: 

  • Cherries

  • Eggs

  • Milk 

  • Fish

  • Nuts like almonds and pistachios

  • Goji berries

Try to incorporate these foods into your diet on a daily basis. If you find yourself struggling to sleep, for example, try drinking a cup of warm milk before bed — the high level of melatonin it contains could help you find the land of nod much more quickly. 

Discover melatonin supplements

Are you struggling to sleep at night and find yourself feeling tired as soon as you wake up? If so, why not try out our melatonin supplements? 

With our help, you can drift off into dreamland every night and wake up ready for whatever life throws your way. 

Start our online consultation now to find out more.

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