Hi everybody, I’m Kris Stokes from Custom Fitness Personal Training Studio, and today I wanted to share with you four things that you might not know about melatonin.
A lot of people are lacking in sleep lately, that’s just a given. They’ve got this crazy stress going on, and maybe just the virus itself that we’re worried about, it may be work changes, it may be working from home, or not being able to go to work, and maybe the family is home and so the kids are out of school, and we just have a lot piling up.
I know for me, I look ahead to the future a lot, and so in times like these it’s really hard to do that. Again, I kind of live day by day, and everything feels like it’s changing, so sleep sometimes can be hard to come by. A lot of us turn to help for that right, we turn to sleep aids, and more and more people these days are trying to come off of the over-the-counter products and go more towards natural products, and a lot of people are using things like melatonin or CBD or so many things. I wanted to kind of hone in on melatonin today because it’s something that comes up a lot in conversation. I wanted to bring you kind of into the know on a few things, just so that you can be more aware.
Melatonin first of all, is not just a pill that’s put out, it’s actually a hormone that our body produces, it’s kind of our body’s natural timekeeper, it signals the time of day it is, it regulates our internal clock, helps us to know what time of year and all those things. It helps us on that realm, and it works in balance with almost 300 other hormones. Our body has a lot of chemical messengers that are telling our brain and the rest of us what’s happening at all times.
If you’re taking a melatonin supplement, a lot of people don’t realize that it typically will help you fall asleep, but it doesn’t help you to sleep deeper or to sleep through the night more often than not, because, melatonin actually metabolizes itself usually within about four hours, so you’re going to sleep really good through that time, but you’re not going to be able to go through the entire night because of it. And so a lot of people will start taking more on the front end, they’ll take 10 milligrams, they’ll take 20 milligrams before they go to bed thinking that it’s going to help, and the problem is not how much do you take in the beginning because you don’t need that much in order to fall asleep. The problem is that the body’s metabolizing it, so then by the time that you get to four hours in, you’re awake again because you haven’t allowed your body to find its own natural rhythm with things. There may also be some other underlying causes of this that we can talk about here in a moment.
One of the worst things that you can do for melatonin levels is to put blue light in front of your face, your screens from your TV to your computer, your phone, any of that kind of stuff. You guys have heard about blue light. Blue light actually minimizes the production of natural melatonin, so yes, your body still does produce it even if you’re not sleeping well at night, and it’s reducing that, so we can stay away from the electronics, even the clock faces to turn away from us and things like that, that will help our body to regulate its melatonin levels better.
All right, natural melatonin, and this is a big conversation I have with people a lot, is that it increases about two hours before your typical bedtime. Now if you’re on a really rigid sleep schedule, kudos to you, because that is the best thing we can do for our body, it helps to regulate everything, it helps our bodies to know when we’re sleeping, when we’re awake. So if you can regulate your sleep time, go to bed within about a 30 minute timeframe each night, wake up within a 30 minute time frame each morning, whether it’s the weekend and weekday, doesn’t matter. But if you pay attention to your body, you may find that even though you normally go to bed at 11 or 12 that you actually were tired much earlier, and it’s because your melatonin starts to increase around that evening time. About two hours before you typically go to sleep it’s going to start to increase so that your body can get you into that deep restful sleep.
Now at the same time as that, cortisol is the opposite of melatonin. Cortisol is your awake hormone, your stress hormone, if it’s released too much, it’s usually because you’re under a lot of stress, so that can be a bad thing, but if it’s just there, then cortisol helps to keep you awake, it provides energy, it helps your body to start producing adrenaline, and to wake up and move through the day.
Cortisol actually starts to drop off about two hours before you go to bed and melatonin takes over and starts to come in, so if you’ll pay attention to how your evening is going, you may notice times that you feel a little more tired than others, that you normally would say, well, I’m just tired from the day and you don’t think about the fact that it might be time to go to bed. It’s okay to be tired from the day, that’s the point, and we need to go to bed. If you’re staying up much past that, you’re probably missing that window and it’s throwing off the body’s hormones, which leads to a poor night’s sleep, which leads to hard waking up, and leads to you feeling fatigue the next day. If you want to balance all that out, you’ve kind of got to balance this system.
What we want to do, is if you’re taking supplements to sleep, if you’re taking the melatonin, then go ahead and take that about 30 minutes to an hour before bed so that you can let it drift into the system. Don’t take an extravagant amount, start with two and a half milligrams if you’re doing that, but don’t take it every night, see if you can help your body to re-regulate itself and be able to make its own melatonin, because just like anything else, if we start supplementing too much we end up overpowering our body’s system, it says you don’t need it, so it stops producing as much. We don’t want to get into that cycle because then it’s a lot more painful to break whenever we’ve got to stop something and allow our body time to remake it.
Then really pay attention to your sleep-wake cycle. Try to get that same rhythm each night so that you can get the best sleep that you want to get. Now, I mentioned that there might be some other reasons that you might not be sleeping through the night. One of them may be a mineral or a vitamin deficiency, a lot of times people are not getting in all of the vitamins and minerals that they need, and when they don’t do that it’s very hard for your body to sleep because it’s trying so hard to survive.
We’ve got to get that balance in, and right now is a great time to really be minimizing your grocery list to the most important things, so we’re buying proteins, we’re buying fats, we’re buying vegetables, we’re buying fruits, frozen if you can’t find them fresh, getting the things that you need. Dehydrated fruit is okay, but it does not count the same, because we’re missing that water content and it’s been processed and heat treated and all those things, so a lot of times you’re not getting the same things from that as you would from obviously your fresh produce. We want to try to make sure that we get that balance.
Another thing that could be keeping you awake at night is dehydration. If you’re not drinking enough water during the day, which the golden rule is about half of your body weight in ounces of water each day, if you’re not getting that, then your body is going to be fighting you on sleep because it cannot function at a high level, and during sleep is when we regenerate, it’s when we need all those nutrients, we need that hydration, we need all that stuff working for us at that time so our body can do what it needs to do.
If you are struggling with your sleep, if you’re struggling figuring out what’s causing the sleep issue, or you figured out through me talking that maybe you’re deficient in some vitamins or minerals, water, any of those things, feel free to give me a call. I do nutrition coaching as an independent service, and I also do it in combination with all of our training services. If nutrition is something that you want to chat about, feel free to give us a call and let us know, 806-322-3188. I hope you have a blessed day.