You simply can’t wait to crawl into bed tonight. You’ve been feeling both physically and mentally tired all day long and nothing sounds as good as your comfy blanket and bed right now.
10PM hits and you prepare to crawl in. You lay your head down on the pillow, ready to let exhaustion take over and then it hits you.
Your mind begins running a million miles a minute. It would seem that all that fatigue you had during the day has now vanished and it’s like your brain has gotten a second wind.
You toss and turn for what feels like hours, frustratingly looking at the clock every 15 minutes or so.
Does this sound familiar? Restless nights are all too common for many people and can be an incredibly frustrating situation. Especially when you really are so very exhausted and know that you need the sleep to function the next day.
But, the more you stress about NOT sleeping, the less likely you are TO sleep (life’s greatest catch-22!).
The next day you might be searching for a sleep aid of sorts. What can you do to sleep better? You come across melatonin, an all-natural sleep supplement and figure you’ve hit the jackpot.
But have you?
Here are a few things that you need to know about melatonin.
Melatonin Is Not A Sleep Supplement
The first thing to note is that melatonin, as-is, is not designed to be a normal everyday sleep supplement. Your body naturally produces some melatonin everyday. It’s what helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is often influenced by light, which is why production shuts down in the morning as light streams into your window and starts to turn up in the evening when the sun goes down.
Unfortunately in today’s world, where are glued to our TV screens, computer monitors, or smartphones, we get bright light all around us, which can shut down much of that natural melatonin production.
Supplementing with it then can help bring it back to normal levels.
What melatonin is designed to do however is to assist those who are suffering from jet leg or who are trying to bring back a normal circadian rhythm. For instance, let’s say you worked night shift for the last week and now are trying to get your body back in tune with a normal sleep cycle.
In this case, melatonin can be very helpful. Taking it prior to bed can help you fall to sleep faster and stay sleeping better.
Melatonin may also be used by those who are working shift work and who struggle to go to sleep when they need to as it’s broad daylight.
For those who just need a good night’s sleep, melatonin can help as well. It can help you feel sleepier and stay asleep better than without – on an occasional basis.
If you take it for too many days in a row however (or worse use it chronically), you’ll find that you start feeling groggy all the time and never really feel truly refreshed after sleeping.
So the first thing to know about melatonin is that it’s not a long-term solution. Right on the label it says to avoid taking any longer than a couple weeks. Pay attention to this warning.
Melatonin Needs To Be Timed Properly
Another thing to know is that melatonin needs to be timed properly. Ideally, you want to take it about one hour prior to when you plan to go to sleep and then make sure to keep the area you are in as dark as possible during that time.
This is what will best help induce the need to sleep in the body. And, if you are going to take melatonin, do make sure that you are allowing a good 8-9 hours of sleep. Don’t take it when you only have five hours until you have to wake up (such as if you are having a very late night or you’ve been tossing and turning for hours).
If you do that, there’s a good chance it will not be out of your system come morning and you’ll wake up feeling extremely groggy and tired still.
You Don’t Need As Much Melatonin As You Think
Finally, the last point to remember about melatonin is that you really don’t need as much as you may think. You can often find melatonin in dosages of 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, or the super dose, 20mg.
For almost every individual, 3 mg should be the highest dose you ever need to take. Most people will do best on a fraction of these dosages – say a quarter of a 1 mg tab.
It takes very little amounts of melatonin to have impacts on the body, so always start with the lowest dosage.
If you up and take 20 mg of melatonin your first time taking it, there’s a good chance you’ll be groggy for a few days (and sleep for 14 hours straight!).
You need to assess your own tolerance and then adjust your dosage from there. Always start low and work your way up.
Many people also do well cycling melatonin if they are going to take it for a few days in a row. Start with a 3 mg dose, go down to a 1 mg dose, and on the third night, go without any.
Then repeat. That’s one strategy that you can use as well.
So there you have a few quick things to know about melatonin. When used properly and for the right purpose, it can help you get the sleep you need. Just don’t rely on it for months at a time.