Melatonin for Sleep: and 4 Additional Ways to Improve Sleep Naturally.
Dr. Rouzier recently provided some tips in response to an online publication writer who asked the question, “What are some tips on how to avoid sleep disruptions when season’s change?” I thought it would be appropriate to post here and expand on natural sleep in general. Read the tips below and feel free to provide your own based on your knowledge and experience.
1) Maintain a consistent sleep/wake cycle
Wake up at the same time EVERY morning and NEVER sleep-in to make up loss of sleep. Although your sleep may be slightly thrown off by a 1 hour time change, this will only have a minimal effect if your body already has a strong backbone of healthy sleep hygiene. What this means is if you wake up at the same time every morning, despite if you got 8 hours of sleep or 5 hours of sleep, your body will eventually fall into a natural sleep/wake cycle based on that wake up time. This will eventually turn into a regular 8 hours of sleep, or whatever amount your body naturally requires. This behavior modification is the most important component of strengthening your “body armor” against seasonal time changes.
2) Do not use sleep medication unless you have severe insomnia.
There are a variety of sleep medications out there that will certainly get you to sleep, but will make your body more dependent on them than that of seasonal change. Taking such medications will only contradict your body’s natural sleep wake cycle mentioned in tip #1.
3) Take a melatonin supplement to help you get into a regular sleep/wake cycle.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is already produced by our bodies, and we depend on this hormone in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. Studies have shown that taking melatonin for sleep not only helps you to fall asleep, but also puts you into a deeper level of sleep, which is crucial to feeling rested during the day. Also, melatonin is non-addictive and will certainly make seasonal change less disruptive. If your Health Care Provider is not familiar with melatonin, then search for one who is well versed in natural hormones. This will determine what your optimal dose should be and to make sure you are taking a high quality melatonin supplement, typically dispensed by a compounding pharmacy. Melatonin is also a bio identical, natural hormone that is not a drug or addicting, only a healthy supplement that possesses many other health benefits. Recent studies demonstrate its protection against many different cancers.
4) Replacing estrogen and progesterone makes all the difference in the world as to how one sleeps and functions.
If a woman is newly menopausal, then she may be suffering sleep deprivation as the result of loss of her hormones, which also results in significant health detriments, as well as feeling poorly. We never advocate hormone replacement with chemically altered synthetic hormones which studies have shown to be harmful to a woman’s health. However studies demonstrate that loss of hormones is also very harmful to one’s health and well-being. Replacement must be in the form of the identical hormones that the body makes normally, commonly termed bio identical or natural hormones.
5) Limit caffeine during the day and alcoholic beverages at night.
Drinking coffee or caffeinated sodas during the day, particularly after 12pm, is likely to make falling asleep more difficult. If you drink too much alcohol at night, this will do one (or all) of three things: 1. Make you fall asleep at a lower quality of sleep 2. Make you become dependent on alcohol for sleep, which will of course defeat the purpose of maintaining a healthy sleep/wake cycle 3. May have an adverse effect and keep you awake.