I’m sure a lot of people are not having the best time sleeping through the night right now. And a lot of them are probably turning to Melatonin supplementation for help. But should you? Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland and acts as a signaling molecule for a whole hell of a lot of things in your body, like when it’s time to fall asleep or not. Generally I’m not a big fan of messing with the body’s innate hormone production. Melatonin production is highly rhythmic, and thus can confuse the hell out of your body if you’re not precise and consistent with supplementation. Turned into a zombie because of DST last month? That feeling can be constant when you start messing with your own body’s production of melatonin.
If you are having trouble sleeping, you may get far better lasting results by optimizing your environment and habits instead. These include, but are not limited to:
- No device use at least 1-2 hours before bed (the blue light suppresses melatonin production)
- Eliminate all blue light after sunset (same as above, try using Hue lights at home and turn them red with the sunset)
- Create a cool environment (I aim for 68F, with a fan)
- Block out all city light from your bedroom
- Wear an eyemask when you sleep
- Journal for 15-20 minutes before shutting down at night to get stressful loops out of your head
- Have a calm and relaxing shutdown routine that starts 45 min before bed
- Supplement with 250-400mg of magnesium
- Supplement with other botanicals (essential oils like Cedarwood, Lavender and Valerian are great to diffuse bedside as you drift off. Cedarwood is known to be a natural way top boost Melatonin production)
- Use a weighted blanket
This doesn’t mean melatonin supplementation is worthless. If your schedule has recently been messed up or you have recently traveled across time zones, supplementation can play a role getting you back on track.
Bottom line: If you’re changing time zones, or otherwise trying to alter the timing of your circadian rhythm, use melatonin (3-5 mg). Otherwise, do the heavy lifting by modifying your sleep environment and routines.