Updated: May 27, 2020
Difficulties falling or staying asleep are a common problem in the U.S. and around the world. Because of that, sleeping remedies such as melatonin are a staple in many people's night time routine. But this is one of the last things that you should be doing to aid in your sleep hygiene. In fact, I often help my clients to get off of melatonin in order to improve their sleep! Today I'm sharing the deets on why you shouldn't rely on melatonin and what you can do instead!
But first... what is melatonin?
Melatonin is the hormone that triggers your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. It's the "sleep" hormone! Your body naturally produces melatonin when it's dark out and when your cortisol (stress hormone) levels go down. You need melatonin in order to get your body into restorative deep sleep that your body needs.
If your body makes it, don't take it
For most situations, it's best to stick by this rule: "if your body makes it, don't take it". The reason why this is so important is because many of your hormones respond to what is called a "negative feedback loop". It's a science-y term that essentially means the more you have of something, the less your body will make of it. For example, when it comes to melatonin - if you're taking it exogenously (as a supplement), then your body will see that you already have it in your system and it won't make it. That means the more often you take melatonin, the less your body will produce it and the worse your sleep problems will get.
What do you do instead?
There are many reasons why your body may not be producing melatonin. Two major factors are stress and exposure to electronics.
1. Reduce your stress levels.
I mentioned earlier that melatonin increases in response to decreased cortisol levels. If your cortisol levels remain raised later in the day - usually due to emotional stressors, having coffee after 2pm, a diet high in processed carbs or sugar, and a variety of other reasons - this makes it impossible for your melatonin to be produced which leads to sleep issues. In this circumstance, you need to address what is causing your increased stress levels. You can also try reducing your stress levels by utilizing negative ions (read more about them HERE).
2. Eat the right foods at the right time.
Eating one serving of healthy starchy carbs at dinner (such as sweet potato, zucchini, squash, and beans) also helps in reducing your cortisol levels and prepping you for bed! This is a method of nutrient timing that I utilize in the 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program to help decrease hunger hormones, increase fat burning mechanisms, and balance cortisol/melatonin! Hundreds of men and women around the world have used the 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program in order to achieve their weight loss goals and end up having INCREDIBLE sleep as a natural side result! Read their stories about how they did it HERE.
3. Unplug before bed.
The other major sleep disturbance factor is increased exposure to electronics. Most electronics emit EMFs that disrupt melatonin production. Try removing any exposure to electronics an hour before you go to bed so that you can allow your melatonin to naturally increase. This includes your cell phone, laptop, TV, iPad, etc. Magnesium is also helpful in countering the harmful effects of EMFs. A supplement of 350-500mg taken at night can also assist in bringing on the zzz's.
Getting great sleep not only feels amazing, but it's crucial for achieving maximum health and wellness. The more often you achieve better, deeper sleep, the faster you will achieve your wellness dreams!
P.S. Get started on achieving your wellness dreams TODAY with the 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program! Learn how to get started HERE.
Autumn Elle Nutrition