Did you know that the majority of people have trouble sleeping? Inadequate sleep can decrease alertness and productivity during the day, increase the risk for sickness and disease, and promote fat storage.
A good night’s rest is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of healthy living – it is responsible for regulating our immune system, healing processes, mood, energy, and muscle development, among many others. The problem is that there is not just one underlying cause for sleep disorders, and there are hundreds of herbal remedies and prescription drugs that promise salvation – usually at a steep cost (to both your wallet and your health). Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Melatonin is an effective sleep aid that stands apart from the host of others for one main reason – your body already produces it. Unlike the strong narcotic feeling associated with prescription aids like Ambien and Lunesta, Melatonin supplements feel completely natural – because they are. And don’t worry about side effects – it has virtually none and actually functions as an antioxidant as well, to further boost immune response. (It also assists in preventing cancer and promoting skin health.)
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland. It is primarily associated with regulating other hormones to maintain the circadian rhythm. This is the body’s internal clock that distinguishes between day and night to produce chemicals to either keep you awake, or put you to sleep. Melatonin, or 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, is one of the main hormones effected by abnormal sleeping patterns, and since it is primarily regulated by light, it is easy to throw this out of balance. Jet lag, poor vision, and unnatural work shifts can all lead to an imbalance and result in an inability to fall asleep. In addition, it is often affected by aging and the older a person gets, the less melatonin their body produces naturally.
Supplementing with melatonin can reduce the time it takes a person to fall asleep, increase the number of hours they remain asleep, and prevent them from being disrupted – this improves the overall quality of their rest and increases daytime alertness. This is evident in the fact that supplementing with melatonin tends to cause an increase in the vivid nature of dreams – a facet that only occurs in the deepest/ most refreshing REM state of sleep.
The recommended dose is between 1 and 5 mg about 30 minutes prior to bed. Melatonin supplements can be purchased at nearly any pharmacy, or health-shop and are extremely cheap. A bottle of 90 tablets will run you under $15, making it one of the most cost effective remedies around.
Photo: New Treatments