I think of melatonin as “sleep gold”. This slumber-enhancing hormone is a key element in the regulation of your body’s wake-sleep cycle. Not only does it act to make you drowsy so that you can fall asleep, but it also helps to “maintain” your sleep throughout the night.
Melatonin production is triggered, in great part, by the waning light of day. That’s because it is produced by a small, “light sensitive” gland located within your brain located right behind and between your two eyes. The darker your environment is, the more melatonin that’s made.
Unfortunately the electronic advances of the 21st century have left us with the problem of “light pollution”. High wattage light bulbs, big screen televisions, laptop computers, tablets, and the like greatly inhibit our nocturnally-timed production of melatonin. In fact a 2007 research study demonstrated that human exposure to low-level incandescent lightning for only 39 minutes suppresses melatonin levels up to 50%!
In an attempt to minimize this problem in my home, each evening as the sun sets I begin the ritual of lowering the lights while chanting the phrase “It’s time to make some melatonin!” If you want to capture some better sleep for yourself, I encourage you join me by darkening the environment in your own home an hour or two before bedtime.
If you’re still having difficulty sleeping well, and think you would benefit from mining for some outside sources of “sleep gold” (melatonin), there are two safe and effective ways you can dig up more of this sleepy hormone. The first is by using an over-the-counter synthetic melatonin supplement. I emphasize “synthetic” because there are some “natural”, animal-harvested melatonin supplements available in health stores which can be contaminated. So steer clear of those.
The second, safe way to supplement your own natural melatonin is by drinking tart cherry juice. Mix two tablespoons of juice into 4oz. of water/seltzer (to decrease the tartness) and drink about half an hour before bedtime. This quantity of juice will deliver what researchers believe to be an adequate amount of melatonin for sleep support.