29 Dec Melatonin – the missing link for a good nights sleep?
Do you struggle getting to sleep? Or perhaps you wake multiple times during the night, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish in the morning? It could be more than just lumpy pillows or having too much on your mind. Let me tell introduce you to ‘melatonin’ and how it could be affecting they way you sleep.
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter within the body that’s main function is to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. It is involved in sleep onset and sleep quality. It is during deep sleep that the body naturally produces melatonin. If we are in a cycle of poor sleep the body is unable to produce sufficient melatonin to allow the body to enter a deep sleep, and so the cycle continues.
Signs that may present with melatonin deficiency include insomnia, hypertension, migraines, headaches, chronic pain, muscle tension and anxiety. Often shift workers and FIFO workers can have a disruption to their body’s natural ability to produce melatonin, having a detrimental effect on their sleep, energy and mood.
Improving sleep onset and sleep quality
Melatonin can be prescribed as a supplement to help encourage sleep onset and a deep, high quality sleep. In this instance the melatonin supplement can act as ‘training wheels’, in the short term allowing the body to enter the deep sleep it needs in order to naturally produce melatonin. Once natural production has returned, the training wheels can be taken away. It is important to look at poor sleep holistically and consider all contributing factors. Sleep hygiene and nervous system support is particularly important to improve sleep outcomes.
Simple steps for a restful sleep:
- Sleep hygiene
- Ensure the sleeping environment is dark and quiet.
- Avoid stimulants before sleep (technology, bright light, caffeine, stress).
- Try meditation, breathing or relaxation exercises prior to sleep.
- Support proper functioning of the digestive system. Serotonin is found in the cells lining the digestive tract, therefore inflammation in this area can affect serotonin and its ability to convert to melatonin.
- Following a nutritious diet, particularly rich in nutrients specific for optimal nervous system functioning (folate, iron, calcium, vitamins B3, B6 and C, zinc, magnesium, methionine and SAMe).
- Exercise or physical activity, stress management and mental health support with health professionals (Psychologist, GP) if required.
If you would like support with managing your sleep call our clinic on 9339 199 to book an appointment with NatMed’s Clinical Nutritionist, Amy Lloyd.