How To Increase Melatonin Naturally And Without Supplements
Melatonin to sleep as a quarterback is to football
When playing football, your team needs someone to direct the action in the field. You need a person to execute the coaches directives and lead the offensive. In football, it’s the quarterback’s job to take care of this.
In this respect, sleep happens to be a lot like football.
Your body uses its circadian rhythms to determine when it’s time to hit the sack. These circadian rhythms are like the coach in a football game, sending the higher up signal to the body that it should be asleep or awake.
Similar to football, your body needs a quarterback to execute these plans in the field. That’s where melatonin comes into play.
When your body decides that it’s time to sleep, it produces more melatonin. Melatonin directs all the necessary biological reactions that need to occur in order to cause you to fall and stay asleep. The end result? Restful and blissful sleep.
Except, that’s usually not the case…
Sometimes, our bodies produce lower than necessary melatonin levels, making it more difficult to fall into and stay asleep. This can be caused by poor sleeping habits, sleep disorders, drugs, and many other factors.
Not just a sleep problem
Lower than desirable melatonin levels don’t just cause you to feel more tired than normal. Low melatonin levels have been linked with higher probabilities of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a weaker immune system.
Melatonin is especially necessary for fighting and preventing cancer. Certain studies have shown that melatonin can destroy certain cancer cells, slow down tumor growth, and act as an antioxidant to prevent cancer development.
All benefits considered, it’s evident that melatonin is nothing short of a wonder hormone.
Unfortunately, many common factors cause melatonin to decrease
Age is perhaps the most inevitable of these. Over time, our bodies melatonin levels start dropping. This leads to shorter REM sleep cycles, higher sleep demand, and other health issues.
Other factors that can contribute to lower than usual melatonin levels include drugs such as NSAIDs and beta blockers. Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep related breathing disorders and circadian rhythm disorders are also contributing factors to lower melatonin levels.
Good news is that there are natural and perfectly healthy ways to increase melatonin levels get the amounts of this wonder hormone that you need.
The following are tested ways to increase melatonin naturally and effectively without you having to take any kind of prescription or synthetic drugs. Most of these solutions involve tweaking one or a few aspects of your day to day activities to stimulate melatonin production while others involve ways to increase melatonin intake.
6 Tactics To Increase Melatonin Naturally
1. Follow Proper Sleep Hygiene Habits
Sleep medicine has been placing an increasingly large emphasis on following proper sleep hygiene practices as treatment for sleep disorders like insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
And with good reason…
Oftentimes, the sleep related issues that we experience are due to poor sleeping habits. Many people aren’t aware of these behaviors because they’ve been doing it for so long that it has become second nature to them.
Many of these small mistakes affect sleep because they decrease melatonin levels
As a result, the first solution to increase melatonin levels is to prevent this decrease from occurring in the first place. You can do this by following proper sleep hygiene.
For example, you may be watching TV every night before going to bed, without knowing that doing so decreases melatonin levels due to blue light emissions from the TV screen. Other common sleep mistakes include sleeping in a less than pitch black room and sleeping in a room that’s not cold enough.
For a full list of proper sleep hygiene practices, check out the Rested Life regularly updated free sleep hygiene fact sheet.
2. Eat the Right Foods
Odds are, you have melatonin rich food in your pantry at this very moment.
It’s true. Melatonin is common in a wide variety of foods. Many common foods like rice, corn, and peanuts contain melatonin and offer great nutritional value.
Eating each of these foods individually might not increase melatonin significantly. However, when combined they can make for a significant natural source of melatonin and help increase the concentration of much-needed antioxidants in your body.
Melatonin rich food isn’t the only food that can increase melatonin levels naturally. Providing your body with the necessary nutrients to make melatonin accomplishes the same thing. As a result, consuming foods that are rich in tryptophan increases serotonin production in the body. And since serotonin is used in melatonin production, eating more tryptophan rich foods = higher melatonin levels.
Eat more turkey
For most people, the mention of tryptophan conjures images of Thanksgiving turkey.
Although contains large amounts of tryptophan, it’s not the only food that does so. Check out the list below for high tryptophan food options.
3. Eat the Right Micronutrients
Though extremely important, tryptophan and serotonin aren’t the only compounds needed to produce melatonin. Some of the most important micronutrients for melatonin and better sleep include Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, and Folic Acid.
Micronutrients are used for innumerable biological reactions in the body. If that’s the case, why is it that even in 2017 Americans face vitamin deficiencies in potassium, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and so many more essential micronutrients?
Failing to get enough of the right micronutrients hinders our body’s ability to produce important hormones like melatonin. Alternatively, by consuming enough micronutrients, you’ll be able to provide your body with the necessary materials to produce the necessary amounts of melatonin, along with other very important compounds.
Getting the right amounts of vitamins and nutrients each day is a necessary long term investment in your health. In addition to the nutrients that I get from my diet, I take this daily multivitamin to ensure that I’m meeting my daily quota. It helps fill many of the nutritional gaps in men’s diet.
4. Go Vampyre Mode at Night
Vampyres don’t like light. And when it’s time to sleep, neither should you.
Melatonin production depends on how well the body’s circadian rhythms are operating. In the morning, more light signals the body to decrease melatonin production. At night, darkness signals the body to start melatonin production.
Ultimately, it is natural sunlight that triggers melatonin production in the human body.
As a result, it’s very important to sleep in a pitch black room at night. This is one of the most important habits you can start incorporating into your daily life to prevent any decreases in melatonin production during bedtime.
Very important, but very often overlooked
It’s common for many people to sleep with different light sources on at night. Always turn of these light sources by either unplugging the electronic device or placing some kind of cover over it. Common sources of bedroom lighting include:
– lights from phone charging cable
– phone notification lights
– gaming consoles
– night lights
– lamp post lights coming in through the windows
Bedroom lighting can put a serious dent in your body’s circadian rhythms and lead to constant sleep complications. Often, people get used to these bedroom light sources and ultimately experience low quality sleep.
Once you go vampyre, you can’t go back
Once you begin sleeping like a vampyre, you’ll wonder how you slept otherwise.
After you’ve been sleeping in a pitch black room for a while, you’ll notice a big difference if you ever have to spend a night in a bedroom that’s not pitch black. I noticed this myself a few weeks ago when I had to stay over at a friends house during a trip. My friend’s blinds were broken and outside light was coming in through the windows. It was a struggle to fall and stay asleep that night. I had to borrow a blanket and place it over the windows to eliminate the light source.
5. Go Superman Mode in the Morning
Superman derives his power from the suns light rays. During morning time, so do you.
There are few better ways to wake up feeling energized and excited in the morning than stepping outside and soaking in some sunlight. The suns natural light tells your body that it’s time to wake up and halt melatonin production. You feel less groggy and more awake and aware.
More than a feeling
Waking up to natural sunlight is more than just a nice way to feel energized and awake in the morning. It also establishes a reference point for your body’s circadian rhythms. By waking up and soaking in sunlight in the morning, you halt melatonin production and tell your body’s sleep wake cycle to wake up at that time.
The body then starts using this as a reference point to help determine when to seize melatonin production and when to start it based on your 24-hour internal clock.
This phenomenon is one of the reasons why it’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. The more consistent your sleep/wake schedule is, the more effortlessly you will be able to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
6. Befriend the Gym
You probably knew this one would make it into the list.
If it seems like exercise is a solution for almost every sleep problem out there, that’s because it is. In past articles, we’ve talked about its benefits as a treatment for sleep apnea and its ability to improve sleep quality in general.
Physical activity has been shown to boost melatonin production as well. In a study by researchers in Canada, scientists examined the melatonin levels of about 200 female subjects over time. The study specifically looked at changes in melatonin concentration as physical activity was performed. The study showed that melatonin levels spike up during physical activity.
But the sweetness doesn’t stop there
Researchers have known for a long time that exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer in women. Using the aforementioned research, scientists have come up with a possible mechanism for why exercise decreases the risk of breast cancer.
It was postulated that spikes in melatonin levels due to physical exercise lead to greater amounts of cancer-fighting melatonin. The higher amounts of melatonin are ultimately what suppress and decrease the risk of breast cancer.
Exercise is a solution to so many health problems, I’m convinced it’s as close as humanity will ever get to a true panacea. The increase of melatonin and the anticarcinogenic abilities are just another point in an already long list of reasons to exercise regularly.
Although melatonin supplements may be an easy fix to decreasing melatonin levels, if you prefer natural ways to increase melatonin that work in the long term, following these tactics is the way to go.
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