There is very little worse than when you are exhausted but your brain is still going a million miles an hour. All you want to do is sleep, but your body refuses to calm down. You lie in bed, eyes closed, and sleep just beyond reach.
Melatonin is a chemical in your body that is responsible for regulating your sleep cycles and making you sleep. Your pineal gland is responsible for producing that melatonin. Each night your body produces approximately 25mcg of melatonin to promote a peaceful and restful sleep. Studies have shown that this amount gradually decreases as we age, which may explain why toddlers and youth require more sleep at night than adults.
You can help regulate your sleep and promote more relaxed, restful sleep by helping your body produce melatonin when you need it. If you are having trouble sleeping, try a few of these tips before you turn to medication.
- Say “no” to electronic devices and gadgets: The blue light produced by our phones, laptops, TVs, and tablets may be counteracting your body’s attempts to produce melatonin. Instead of checking your phone or social media accounts before going to bed, read, journal, or even color. These activities are much less stimulating than electronic devices, allowing your brain to start shutting down and encouraging your body to start producing melatonin for the night ahead.
- Drink chamomile tea: Chamomile tea actually has melatonin in it. Drink a warm cup of it in the evening to help your body relax, de-stress, and prepare for restful sleep.
- Shower or take a relaxing bath: Warm water relaxes tense muscles and refreshes your mind. According to research by Loughborough University in Leicester, the relaxing effect of taking a bath before going to bed helps increase the production of melatonin in your body. This is because taking baths and showers reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, allowing your body to produce melatonin instead.
- Block all sources of light: Pull all the curtains, shut all the blinds, turn off all the lights. Make your room completely dark. Even the smallest amount of light can disrupt your sleeping and melatonin production. Blocking out all the sources of light while sleeping will significantly boost the melatonin in your body, help regulate your sleeping patterns and promote deep sleep so that you wake you up happy and well rested.
- Focus on your diet: Your diet plays a huge role in your body’s sleeping habits. Studies have shown that reducing or eliminating caffeine and processed foods has a hugely positive impact on your amount and quality of sleep. It is also helpful to avoid trying to sleep on a very empty or very full stomach; both can leave your body focused on processes other than sleep. A light snack or a warm cup of tea just before bed can help calm hunger pangs without overtaxing your body.