When you don’t sleep much, it can have a negative impact on your health. You will feel tired and cranky if you miss out on sleeping for seven to eight hours per night. You may also feel grumpy the following day. Tossing and turning in bed for long can also affect your ability to think and remember things. Melatonin, often referred to as the sleep hormone, happens to play a major role in good sleep. It plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythm. That’s why you should know the ways to increase melatonin level.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain, explains Dr Gaurav Jain, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi.
Ways to increase melatonin level
When the sun goes down, melatonin levels naturally rise, signaling your body that it’s time to get some shut-eye. They decrease in the morning, promoting wakefulness. Here’s what you can do to boost melatonin naturally in your body.
Control light exposure
Exposure to bright artificial light, especially blue light from screens, can inhibit melatonin production. To increase melatonin naturally, limit screen time before bedtime and use blue light filters on devices, suggests the expert.
2. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, which can improve melatonin production.
3. Create a sleep-friendly environment
Make your bedroom dark, quiet and cool to enhance melatonin production. You can use blackout curtains and reduce noise to create an ideal sleep environment.
4. Dietary choices
Certain foods contain melatonin precursors such as tryptophan. Incorporate foods like turkey, nuts, seeds and tart cherries into your diet to support melatonin production. For non-vegetarians, egg is a good option as it is one of the best sources of melatonin. It is highly nutritious, offering nutrients like protein and iron.
Some drink warm milk at night, a habit that you should continue as it’s high in melatonin. Try not to have caffeine at night as you won’t be able to sleep better. So, avoid having caffeinated drinks and foods after lunch.
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5. Regular exercise
Engaging in regular physical activity during the day can help to improve sleep quality and potentially boost melatonin levels. However, avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime, says Dr Jain.
6. Stress management
High stress levels can hinder melatonin production, so practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga can reduce stress and support healthy sleep.
7. Go for a warm bath
At night, just relaxing in a warm bath can help to boost melatonin levels. That’s because when the body relaxes, cortisol levels might drop. This in turn may allow melatonin to increase.
Should you have synthetic melatonin supplements?
Taking synthetic melatonin supplements is generally considered safe for short-term use to address sleep issues or jet lag, says Dr Gaurav Jain. However, there are some risks and considerations.
Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle or cause side effects like dizziness and nausea. It’s essential to start with a low dose and consult a doctor for guidance.
Melatonin can interact with some of the medications or medical conditions like high blood pressure. So, if you have any underlying health issues or take medications, consult your doctor before using melatonin supplements.
3. Long-term use
The safety of long-term melatonin supplementation is not well-established. It’s generally recommended for short-term use and should not be used as a permanent solution for sleep problems.
If you still wish to have them, ensure you purchase melatonin supplements from reputable sources.