Melatonin and Sleep
A hot topic surrounding sleep is melatonin. What is melatonin? Is it safe? Is it natural? Is it habit forming? Is it safe for my children?
In the body, melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. Melatonin is critical to the body’s regulation of the circadian sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production is affected by light entering in through the eyes. During the day, when it is light, melatonin in the body almost ceases to exist, it is nearly undetectable. As the evening nears and the sun goes down, as less light is emitted through the eyes, your body begins to produce melatonin. This signals to your brain and body that bedtime is nearing. Melatonin does not actually induce sleep, but it aids in promoting your brain and body to be in a state that is ready for sleep. Studies show that high doses of melatonin decrease motor activity, increase fatigue, and lowers body temperature.
For a time in our lives, melatonin production does us many favors, but unfortunately, after puberty, the body’s ability to produce melatonin decreases and at a much older age, can cease to exist completely. I definitely feel like I’ve experienced the lowered production of melatonin myself. I often hear my parents talk about how they aren’t sleeping well and my grandma gets up in the wee hours of the morning which is so early, it almost isn’t morning, it’s still the middle of the night.
So what do we do as we get older and aren’t sleeping well or can’t seem to settle down enough to even be able to fall asleep? And we’re so busy with the responsibilities of today that we NEED sleep. And maybe our children aren’t good sleepers or they aren’t feeling well or for whatever reason, they cannot seem to settle in for the night?
Sometimes our bodies need that extra boost of a melatonin sleep supplement to kick our bodies into bedtime mode! Believe it or not, melatonin is a safe option not only for adults, but for children as well. The body produces melatonin on its own, so taking a melatonin supplement is considered completely safe giving our bodies the extra boost it needs.
Many people ask if melatonin is habit forming. The short answer is yes. The long answer? While melatonin is non-habit forming and not addictive in the way prescribed sleeping pills are, it is important to give yourself a limit on using melatonin for yourself and your children. For example, maybe you and your children are traveling for a trip or aren’t feeling well. While it isn’t addictive or habit forming, it is important to set a limit so as not to disrupt the body’s natural clock rhythm.
Aside from taking melatonin, it is a great idea to set a calming, predictable nighttime routine. Having a consistent, quiet, and calm routine will help signal to your body that sleep is nearing and to produce melatonin. Turn off all electronics AT LEAST 30 minutes before you lay down for bed (this includes your favorite Netflix binge!) and dim the lights. You may even want to read your favorite book or take a bath. Whatever it is, make sure you’re consistent in your evening and night routine and when you’re looking for a sleep supplement, make sure it is all-natural making it the best and safest melatonin option for you and your littles!