THE BOTTOM LINE
- Melatonin is an essential sleep hormone
- Supplements are best used in small doses (0.3 mg) and as short-term solutions
- There are many ways to boost your natural production
The global sleep supplement market is worth around 67 billion dollars. One of the key ingredients that repeatedly shows up in supplements is melatonin. In fact, millions of adults worldwide report using it every night to help them fall asleep faster. But, did you know that you can actually boost your natural melatonin?
What is melatonin, though?
Is melatonin safe?
It is generally considered safe to take as a short-term solution. In supplement form, it can be useful for people with disrupted circadian rhythms, such as shift-workers or people experiencing jet lag. It is also sometimes safe to use in small doses for older people who have declining melatonin levels. As for everyone else? It may be time to reconsider your melatonin use.
Potential risks of melatonin supplements:
- It may disrupt your natural production: One of the biggest concerns about melatonin is that it may disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin. Given that melatonin supplements are meant as short-term solutions, there is insufficient research examining its long-term effects.
- Melatonin is not regulated: Like many natural health supplements, melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that melatonin supplements are not tested for safety or effectiveness. Studies have found that the actual amount of melatonin in supplements varied significantly from what was reported on the bottles.
A 2017 study found some supplements had doses that were nearly 500% higher than the label indicated. Additionally, they found that 26% of the supplements studied were contaminated with serotonin. This is a potentially dangerous finding for anyone on certain types of antidepressants as it could lead to dangerously high levels of serotonin.
- Drug interactions: Melatonin may also interfere with important medications such as blood thinners, diabetes medications, anti-seizure medications, and immunosuppressive drugs.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR NATURAL MELATONIN!
The best way to boost melatonin is to learn how to enhance your natural production! Fortunately, there are many ways to give the ol’ sleep hormone a boost.
1. GET ON A SCHEDULE
Having a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best ways to boost your natural production of melatonin. Setting a bedtime isn’t always easy, so, focus on getting up at the same time every morning. Yes, even on weekends. Your body operates best on a consistent schedule and this will help optimize all of your natural processes.
2. SEE THE LIGHT
Getting around 20 minutes of light exposure in the morning or early afternoon can do wonders for regulating your circadian rhythm. A regular circadian rhythm means your melatonin production stays regular!
3. LEARN FROM DRACULA
Melatonin peaks during the night and takes darkness cues from your environment to keep pumping. Ambient light during the night can interfere with this process. Try using blackout curtains or an eyemask during the night to keep things dark and melatonin-y.
4. LOG OFF
Electronics within 2 hours of bedtime can significantly suppress your natural production. Put away digital devices and let your body do its thing.
5. EAT FOR MELATONIN
Did you know that some snacks have natural melatonin? Tart cherries are the best source but you can also get a little boost from foods like almonds, pistachios, white and black mustard, and flax seeds.
6. MEDITATION BENEFITS
Believe it or not, a regular meditation practice actually boosts your natural production! Just 10 minutes a day is all it takes to gain the sweet benefits of meditation.
7. RED LIGHT BOOSTS NATURAL MELATONIN
While blue light suppresses melatonin, red light may boost it. Try swapping your bed light out for a red lightbulb!
How to take melatonin supplements safely:
If you do insist on melatonin supplements, the best way to take it safely is a microdose. Most people are taking way too much, which increases side effects and may have more harmful long-term effects. Research has found that a dose of 0.3 mg is more effective than 1 mg or higher since a low dose mimics your body’s natural levels.