Finish each day before you begin the next,
and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Chronic lack of sleep is linked to a variety of negative outcomes including accidents, bad skin, diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity… and it can even kill your sex drive.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic,” affecting virtually every aspect of what it takes to lead a happy, healthy, and productive life. 2 It is estimated that as many as 70 million Americans are not getting enough sleep.
I have used melatonin as a sleep aid for years, but have been concerned about the warning label. Along with the positive message that melatonin helps promote sleep, there is a message to, “limit use to two months with a break of one week.” This makes me wonder, should I be worried about negative side effects or addiction?
A podcast featuring Dr. Michael Colgan, an Australian biochemist, physiologist, nutritionist, and expert on living longer, gave me hope and encouraged me to research further.
The podcast taught me that melatonin is more than just a sleep aide, it’s a critical hormone that was first discovered in 1958. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted naturally by the pineal gland, which is situated in the base of the brain’s hypothalamus. Scientists discovered that melatonin production begins to decline around age 25. By age 50, only half of what is needed for optimal health is naturally created by the body. This is important because reduction in melatonin levels is linked to many diseases and health problems.
Professor Russel Reiter, a University of Texas cellular biologist who has studied melatonin for 30 years, believes that, “because melatonin is a vital antioxident that declines precipitously with age, its gradual loss could explain why aging accelerates over time. 3
Dr. Colgan referred to Professor Reiter’s research in the podcast. He says decreased production of melatonin during aging induces insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, sleep disturbance, and metabolic circadian disorganization, which leads to obesity. He continued by saying, low levels of melatonin can increase the risk of developing degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The studies referenced in Melatonin Scientific Research suggest a melatonin supplement may bolster our immune systems, help prevent clogged arteries, protect against free-radicals attacking your brain, prevent cataracts, and slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that protects us from many illnesses. It is a critical hormone created natually by our bodies but that gradually declines with age.
Thankfully, Dr. Colgan assures me and the other listeners of his podcast that using a melatonin supplement can have many healthy benefits — and he says there are no concerns of toxicity or addiction. Hearing these words has helped me rest easy. (Pun intended!)
Other techniques I use to create a healthy sleep ritual:
- Keeping the bedroom dark and cool
- Not using the phone, computer, or television in bed
- Getting seven to eight hours of “actual” sleep every night
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
- Drinking a glass of water during the last hour before bed
Do you have any tips or routines that help you get better sleep? Here’s to amazing, sleep-filled nights and incredible health!
Image via Death to the Stock Photo
Please check with your doctor before adding melatonin to your daily regimen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns consumers to take melatonin, “without any assurance that it is safe or that it will have any beneficial effect.”