Produced naturally by your body by the pineal gland, melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep cycles. It is affected by light exposure: at night when it is dark, your body releases increased melatonin to help promote sleep.
Certain lifestyles, like working night turn or shift schedules or traveling across time zones (jet lag), can alter the natural production of melatonin. Further, as you age, your body may start to produce less melatonin than it did in your younger years. That’s one of the reasons why seniors often sleep less or have disrupted sleep than they did when they were younger.
When your melatonin levels are imbalanced, it can be detrimental to your sleep cycle and upset your natural circadian rhythm. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to boost your melatonin production naturally.
- Go outside during the day. If you work long hours in an office building or home office with little exposure to sunlight, make it a point to spend some portion of your lunch hour outside. If you can take a break in the morning and another in the afternoon to take in some natural light source, all the better.
- Work near a window. If at all possible, situate your desk near a window. The added daytime light will help your body produce more melatonin when you are sleeping at night and better regulate your sleep and wake cycles.
- Turn off the electronics before bed. Your body can misread the television, computer, or smartphone glow for the light, and wreak havoc on your natural melatonin production.
- Consider using a lightbox. Lightboxes are devices that are meant to stimulate sunshine. They can also be helpful for those that suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. If you live in an area that has long, dreary winters, using a lightbox in the winter months can help improve your winter sleep quality.
- Increase intake of melatonin-boosting foods. While there isn’t much in terms of concrete evidence of its link, some foods, such as tomatoes, bananas, barley, oats, rice, pineapples, and oranges can naturally increase the production of melatonin.
- Wear a sleep mask. Because your eyes are covered when you wear a sleep mask, less light makes its way into your body and brain, thereby helping to increase your melatonin production.
Melatonin is a crucial hormone in helping you to not only fall asleep more easily at night and remain asleep throughout the night, but it also helps you to stay awake during the daytime. Incorporate the above tips so that when you go to bed at night on your latex mattress, you’ll fall fast asleep and sleep soundly.
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