When you don’t get a lot of sleep, it can have a negative impact on your health. You’ll feel tired and cranky if you don’t get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. You might also feel grumpy the next day. Tossing and turning for a long time in bed can also affect your ability to think and remember things. Melatonin, often called the sleep hormone, plays a major role in good sleep. It plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. This is why you need to know the ways to increase melatonin level.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain, says Dr Gaurav Jain, senior consultant, internal medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi.
Ways to increase melatonin level
When the sun goes down, melatonin levels naturally rise, signaling your body that it’s time to get some shut-eye. They decrease in the morning, promoting awakening. Here’s what you can do to naturally increase melatonin in your body.
Control exposure to light
Exposure to bright artificial light, especially blue light from screens, can inhibit melatonin production. To increase melatonin naturally, limit screen time before bed and use blue light filters on devices, the expert suggests.
2. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which can improve melatonin production.
3. Create an environment conducive to sleep
Make your bedroom dark, quiet and cool to improve melatonin production. You can use blackout curtains and reduce noise to create an ideal sleeping environment.
4. Food choices
Some foods contain melatonin precursors like tryptophan. Incorporate foods like turkey, nuts, seeds, and tart cherries into your diet to support melatonin production. For non-vegetarians, egg is a good option as it is one of the best sources of melatonin. It is very nutritious and offers nutrients like protein and iron.
Some people drink hot milk in the evening, a habit to maintain because it is rich in melatonin. Try not to consume caffeine at night, as you won’t be able to sleep better. So avoid consuming caffeinated drinks and foods after lunch.
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5. Regular exercise
Engaging in regular physical activity during the day can help improve sleep quality and potentially increase melatonin levels. However, avoid strenuous exercise closer to bedtime, says Dr. Jain.
6. Stress management
High stress levels can hinder melatonin production, so practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can reduce stress and promote healthy sleep.
7. Opt for a hot bath
In the evening, simply relaxing in a warm bath can help increase melatonin levels. This is because when the body relaxes, cortisol levels can drop. This in turn can allow melatonin to increase.
Should you take synthetic melatonin supplements?
Taking synthetic melatonin supplements is generally considered safe for short-term use to address sleep problems or jet lag, says Dr. Gaurav Jain. However, there are certain risks and considerations.
Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle or cause side effects like dizziness and nausea. It is essential to start with a low dose and consult a doctor for advice.
Melatonin may interact with certain medications or medical conditions like high blood pressure. So if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medication, consult your doctor before using melatonin supplements.
3. Long-term use
The safety of long-term melatonin supplementation is not well established. It is generally recommended for short-term use and should not be used as a permanent solution to sleep problems.
If you still want to have some, be sure to purchase melatonin supplements from reputable sources.