I’m frequently asked about melatonin, why I don’t promote it more, because after all it’s natural isn’t it?
Melatonin does occur naturally in the body. It’s a hormone manufactured in the pineal gland at the base of the brain. Melatonin is released during darkness and suppressed by bright light, giving us our 24 hour cycle or circadian rhythm.
The melatonin we take orally is not natural, it’s a synthetic form of melatonin. Natural forms of melatonin are available and are extracted from the pineal glands of sheep, but these aren’t recommended as they could be contaminated.
Added to that no-one seems to be able to suggest an ideal dose – anything from 0.5 to 5 mgs depending where you look. So if you’re taking melatonin you have to guess how much to take.
Melatonin is really only useful when our 24 hour cycle has been disrupted or when out natural supply dwindles. It’s particularly good for jet lag and for shift workers. Elderly people can also benefit as their level of melatonin is naturally lower.
So that’s why I don’t particularly recommend melatonin. Although melatonin seems a fairly safe sleep aid, it’s no good taking it if it’s not going to do you any good!
There are always exceptions to this rule though…
Yes there are always exceptions, people who tell me melatonin has helped them. They’re not shift workers and they’re not elderly. But they swear that melatonin is the best thing since sliced bread! So maybe it’s worth a try – after all it won’t do you any harm. And how much to take! Well… how long is a piece of string? Seriously though the experts advise taking 0.1-6 milligrams. It may be a good idea to start at about 2 milligrams.
There are other better ways to influence your supply of melatonin. The first way is to make sure you get enough sunlight early in the day. This drops your melatonin level immediately and helps you to be more alert and energetic during the day. This in turn raises your melatonin level at night, allowing you to feel drowsy and fall asleep easier.
The second way is to eat more foods containing tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin and thus to melatonin. Foods containing tryptophan are chocolate, oats, bananas, turkey (and other fowl), dried dates, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spiralling, and peanuts.
I used to take Tryptophan for my sleep problems before it was withdrawn from the market due to the release of a contaminated batch (and the desire of the FDA to have greater control over dietary supplements). Tryptophan is still available in some countries, make sure your supply is pure.
I’ve just started testing a new sleep product called “Sleep Tracks™”. Sleep Tracks was created by a guy who suffered with insomnia most of his life and set out to find out everything about his condition and how to overcome it. Sleep Tracks is designed for folks who are taking sleeping pills, suffer from restless legs, have a mild case of sleep apnea and those who are stressed and anxious.
I’ll let you know the results next month… watch this space!
Catch you next month, take care!