Melatonin is something you take when you are jet-lagged right?
Yes, the hormone melatonin controls our circadian rhythm and sleep cycle, but did you know it is also a very powerful antioxidant that protects our DNA?
Additionally, melatonin is an important clue into gut function since 70% of melatonin is produced in the gut. Low levels can indicate a problem going on in your GI system and suggest that further investigation is required.
If your hormone panels come back with a low melatonin level, do you need to supplement? In some cases, it can be helpful for a short time (don’t bother with capsules though, you have to take the right form). More importantly, we have to look at some of the reasons why melatonin levels are low in the first place.
First, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to balance circadian rhythm that I talk about in my book Supercharge Your Sleep
. The most important of which is to limit screen time in the evenings. “Yea yea yea”, you are saying, “but what about my fascinating Facebook feed??”
Well if you MUST, then at least get some cool blue filtering glasses like these:
Or use a mobile browser app like EyeCare or Koala or install a simple software called f.lux on your computer that automatically warms the light emitted by the screen as the sun sets.
Why? Blue light disrupts natural melatonin production. Even 5 minutes of staring at your iPhone, TV or tablet can shut off this important sleep hormone and antioxidant and make it difficult for you to get to sleep.
How? Work towards strictly eliminating screen time at least 30 minutes before bed. If you need to use the computer in the evening or enjoy watching TV to unwind, there are a few tricks to mitigate the impact in the hours before bedtime.
Dim the screen(s) or use NightShift mode on iOS.
Get blue-light filtering glasses.
Install software like IRIS or f.lux on your computer (they are free, so why not give it a shot?)
In your bedroom, you may choose light bulbs emitting a warm/soft light or better yet a string of red/orange tinted LEDs instead of bright white lights
Why? Artificial light, whether it is from street lamps, cars driving by or electronics in your bedroom is several hundred times brighter
than the light from the moon or stars and affects the quality of sleep. While it may not affect the hours that you are asleep, light exposure has been shown to impact how deeply you sleep. Let’s try asking why not? This is an easy one to try and see what benefits you reap because it doesn’t require a huge lifestyle change or time investment.
How? Get blackout curtains or shades. Remove nightlights or at a minimum replace them with ones that have a red/orange light. Remove electronics that glow from the bedroom or put a piece of electrical tape over the LED lights.
Second, I would start looking into WHY you might have a low melatonin production in your gut. How is the integrity of your mucosal barrier? Do you have a parasite, bacterial or yeast overgrowth? Food sensitivities causing inflammation? These are all things we can test for in the DIVE phase of my 4-step Migraine Freedom Plan
Have you tried experimenting with reducing screen time in the two hours before bed? Would you be up for trying some nerdy orange glasses? Let me know in the comments below. Then if you haven’t grabbed a copy of my top 10 tips to improve your sleep quality, get it here: www.engineeringradiance.com/sleep