Not getting much sleep can negatively impact your health. You will feel tired and cranky if you don’t sleep for seven to eight hours a night. You may also feel grumpy the next day. Prolonged tossing and turning in bed can also affect your ability to think and remember things. Melatonin, often called the sleep hormone, plays an important role in a good night’s sleep. It plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Therefore, you need to know how to increase melatonin levels.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, explains Dr Gaurav Jain, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi.
Ways to increase melatonin levels
When the sun sets, melatonin levels naturally rise, signaling your body that it’s time to take a break. They decrease in the morning and promote waking up. Here’s what you can do to boost melatonin in your body naturally.
Control light exposure
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 a sleep-friendly environment
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. Dietary choices
Certain foods contain melatonin precursors, such as tryptophan. Add foods such as turkey, nuts, seeds and tart cherries to your diet to support melatonin production. For non-vegetarians, eggs are a good option as they are one of the best sources of melatonin. It is highly nutritious and provides nutrients such as protein and iron.
Some drink warm milk in the evening, a habit you should continue because it contains a lot of melatonin. Try not to drink caffeine at night, as it will not help you sleep better. So avoid caffeinated drinks and foods after lunch.
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5. Regular exercise
Getting regular exercise during the day can improve sleep quality and possibly increase melatonin levels. However, avoid strenuous exercise right before bed, 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 support healthy sleep.
7. Go for a warm bath
In the evening, simply relaxing in a warm bath can help increase melatonin levels. That’s because when the body relaxes, cortisol levels can drop. This allows melatonin to increase.
Should You Have 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 some risks and considerations.
Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle or cause side effects such as dizziness and nausea. It is essential to start with a low dose and consult a doctor for advice.
Melatonin may interact with some medications or medical conditions such as high blood pressure. So if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications, consult your doctor before taking melatonin supplements.
3. Long-term use
The safety of long-term melatonin supplementation has not been 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 them, make sure you buy melatonin supplements from reliable sources.