How do I Sleep Better? The Role of Melatonin
The Secret to a Good Night’s Sleep
Are you one of the enormous number of people who struggle with poor sleep?
There is nothing that undermines our quality of life so comprehensively.
For some people it’s not being able to get off to sleep - a busy mind, tossing and turning, wired and over tired. For others it’s that 3am wake up with little or no hope of ever going back to sleep.
You’ve probably tried all the sleep hygiene suggestions. You know about hydration, temperature, darkness, relaxation techniques, counting sheep, reducing screen time, and keeping your bedroom as your bed-room.
But have you considered nutrition?
And especially brain nutrition.
It’s an amazing sleep biohack.
Did you know that one way that sleep is determined is by the levels of melatonin in your brain?
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is the sleep hormone and is a central part of our body’s sleep-wake cycle. It is produced in the evening darkness, while light causes that production to stop. It promotes healthy (deep) sleep as well as boosting our immune systems through regulating our circadian rhythm.
How do I get more melatonin?
- The first thing to do is to try to reset your day-night rhythm by getting outside first thing in the morning. For as long as you can, but even 5 minutes will make a difference. Look towards the sun and boost your brain with light. Consistency is the key: to change the chemistry of your brain this needs to become your daily routine.
- Next thing to do is to work out how to reduce any blue light you are getting from your screens in the afternoon. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness - so turn down your light in the evenings.
- Then add some foods that help produce melatonin naturally. These need to have tryptophan in them.
- pumpkin + sesame seeds
- tofu + soy
In order for tryptophan to be converted into melatonin, your body also needs to have enough B vitamins, especially vitamin B6.
- Whole grains
- Protein (red meat, poultry, fish)
- Eggs + dairy products
- Beans + lentils
- Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
- Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale)
- Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)
That traditional hot milky drink in the evening if great for tryptophan - and a little helping of carbs helps too.
Melatonin: the Tryptophan pathway
The precursor to melatonin is serotonin, a neurotransmitter that itself is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. So eating foods with tryptophan or taking a supplement with 5HTP or tryptophan is a great way to naturally boost your melatonin levels.
We make less Melatonin as we get older leading to the “Serotonin and Melatonin deficiency state.”
This is the reason for our sleep starting to be interrupted and our immune systems to be more vulnerable as we get older. So taking tryptophan as a supplement or eating a diet rich in this amino acid may help improve our immune system and our sleep due to its ability to raise levels of serotonin and melatonin.
A really fantastic way to biohack the effects of getting older.
It is well-established that melatonin produced by the body plays a fundamental role in getting quality sleep, so it’s only sensible to consider whether melatonin supplements are effective at helping sleeping difficulties.
This Research by the Sleep Foundation has shown that Tryptophan supplements can help the sleep of both adults and children.
If you decide to boost your melatonin levels with a melatonin supplement look for high quality brands with 100% active ingredients. Make sure there are no added fillers, bulkers and chemicals. And remember that the tryptophan needs B vitamins to be absorbed and serotonin produced.
The gut-brain axis
It’s vital to also take a good probiotic with a wide range of bifido and lactobacillus micro bacteria as 90% of our serotonin is made in the gut.
For something that includes 5HTP, a probiotic blend, B vitamins and tryptophan all in one place have a look at the ingredients in the psychologist designed range called 360ME by M+E.
Happy Me has all the melatonin boosters that you need in it - making life easy! One less ting to worry about to help you get a great night’s sleep.
Are you tired but wired?
If for you the struggle is to quieten your mind to get off to sleep then maybe it’s GABA that you need to boost.
Have you been told to reduce your stress?
It’s easier said than done. But talking things through with a therapist or close friend, taking up yoga, practising square breathing, finding a meditation that you enjoy, staying mindful, forest bathing and adding probiotics, magnesium, theanine and glutamine to your diet can all help you feel calmer and can be the key to getting off to sleep easily.
Here is a review of Calm Me which has tryptophan together with magnesium, glutamine, theanine and the probiotics:
5.0 star rating
I have spent many years struggling with insomnia but this has improved my sleep completely. It has taken me a little while to find the best time and dosage to get the best results. I have finally found balance by taking one of these a few hours before bed and I am able to drift off easily. I am no longer tossing and turning until the early hours trying to fall asleep. I found if I took two tablets I am tired all the time, not good when I have a very active job and home life. Since taking these I have also found that I am a lot calmer during my everyday activities. Things that would normally stress me out I am able to deal with in a calm way without becoming overwhelmed. These are fantastic and I would recommend for people to try. I will buy more and I am intrigued by mood me to see if this would help other areas of my life too. Very happy, thank you!”
Could it be adrenaline?
Just a thought - another nutritional angle that may be behind your sleep problems is adrenaline. If you have chronic or acute levels of this chemical in your body it will keep you alert and hyper vigilant at all times. This can eventually lead to burn out and insomnia.
If this sounds like you then have a read about all about the tools and bio hacks you can use to help in: What is Burnout?
Back to THE VITAMIN SMITH