Getting good sleep is a real challenge for Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-quarter of the U.S. population reports having a problem getting enough sleep and nearly 10 percent struggle with chronic insomnia, a condition characterized by an inability to get to sleep or stay asleep. And the problems with sleep seem to just get worse with age.
Several factors contribute to poor sleep, including other health conditions, side effects of certain prescription medicines and chronic stress but years of conducting medical research has convinced me that a major reason for poor sleep is melatonin deficiency.
Melatonin: The Master Sleep Hormone
Melatonin, yourbody’s master sleep hormone, is produced by the pineal gland, a tiny structure located deep within your brain. The pineal gland influences your 24-hour wake/sleep circadian rhythm and is largely controlled by natural daily light and dark cycles.
In young healthy people, normal daytime blood levels of melatonin are around 10 pg/mL, and rise to about 150 pg/mL at night. This nocturnal flood of melatonin into your system signals your body and brain that it’s time to wind down. In response, your body becomes drowsy and falls asleep. Then sustained levels of melatonin throughout the night help ensure you get a deep, restful sleep. When melatonin levels taper off toward daylight, it signals your body to wake up.
But, as you age, your natural production of nighttime melatonin plummets. It’s estimated that by age 50, levels reach only half your youthful high of 150 pg/mL at night. And by age 70, levels can drop to a meager 25%, meaning you have 75% less melatonin than you need. And that’s bad news for good sleep.
Based on clinical studies I conducted with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we discovered that supplementing with melatonin each night can help restore levels to an optimal amount and improve sleep in four different ways:
1. Restores a Healthy Circadian Rhythm
When you have chronically low melatonin levels, it can disrupt your daily circadian rhythm. It’s a vicious cycle. You don’t sleep well at night, so you’re groggy during the day. So groggy, in fact, that you find yourself needing naps to recharge. But then you have trouble falling asleep at night. And so on and so forth. The bottom line is that a melatonin deficiency can seriously impact your sleep pattern.
But my research team found that normalizing melatonin levels with surprisingly small doses of less than 1 mg each evening helped re-establish healthy sleeping patterns and a proper circadian rhythm.
2. Helps You Fall Asleep Fast
Resetting your circadian rhythm with daily doses of melatonin and re-establishing healthy sleeping patterns will go a long way in helping you get to sleep at the right time of night. It just makes sense that nixing daytime dozing will enhance your ability to fall asleep when you really want to—at bedtime.
But, more than that, having sufficient melatonin later in the evening is the signal your body needs to wind down and go to sleep. When you supplement with melatonin 30-60 minutes before you turn in for the night, your body and mind will have a clear greenlight to head straight for shuteye. Research shows that supplementing with melatonin can help you fall asleep up to 20 minutes faster.
3. Reduces Nighttime Waking
While falling asleep is a problem for some, a far more frequent sleep concern is waking up in the middle of the night. Statistics show that this problem tends to grow with age, which makes sense because your natural melatonin levels decrease with age.
With just the right amount of supplemental melatonin, your body will be able to not only fall asleep quickly, but stay asleep more soundly. In fact, clinical research has shown that melatonin supplements can reduce nighttime waking by up to 65%.
4. Reduces Restlessness
Taking forever to fall asleep and waking up during the night are both bad sleep problems. But most sleep deprived people agree that the inability to fall back asleep after waking up during the night is worst of all.
I’m sure you’ve been there. It’s the tossing and turning. The covers on and off. The pillow propped, flattened, or adjusted every which way. You just can’t get comfortable! And, even though you’re tired, your body and mind won’t settle back into sleep. You’re frantic to get more rest before that morning alarm clock rings…which, of course, makes it far less likely that you will.
These fitful periods of nighttime wakefulness are pure salt in the wounds of poor sleepers because they exponentially add to the exhaustion. Happily, melatonin supplements can help even with this most frustrating sleep problem. Even a small dose of melatonin each night has been shown in clinical studies to reduce restlessness by a full 50% for dramatically more peaceful and restorative sleep.
Sleep Well and Wake Up Energized
Deep, solid sleep is wonderful on its own, but I call it “the gift that keeps on giving” because you wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to take on the world. And let’s not forget the silent benefits that healthy sleep delivers by protecting you from so many serious health risks.
Without a doubt, getting good sleep is one of the very best things you can do for your long term vitality…and now you know how melatonin can help.
Learn more about getting the right nighttime doses of melatonin for the biggest sleep benefits.