There is nothing more frustrating than lying awake in bed, completely exhausted, but unable to fall asleep. No doubt, we have all been there at some point. Sleep is as vital to great health as a balanced diet and exercise. It plays such a crucial role on our physical, emotional, and mental health, which in turn affects our quality of life.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, then you may want to find ways to naturally boost your melatonin levels. Because when it comes to drifting off to a good night’s sleep, this hormone is where it’s at.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone our body’s naturally produce when the sun starts to go down. Our melatonin levels follow a circadian rhythm, such that they rise in the evenings to help prepare our body’s for sleep. They then fall in the early morning hours to help wake us and prepare for our day ahead. One of the primary causes of poor sleep is a disruption to this cycle as it extremely sensitive to outside factors. Thankfully, there are ways to boost your melatonin levels and regain control of your sleep cycle.
5 ways to boost your melatonin levels naturally
1. Increase Natural Sunlight Exposure
Due to our busy schedules, many of us have very little exposure to natural sunlight. By limiting your exposure to natural sunlight, you are confusing your body’s natural clock. Your body begins to think it is supposed to be awake throughout the night, and therefore does not know when to produce melatonin.
Try taking time out of your day for some sunshine. Aim for the morning hours, but if you are pressed for time, get outside in your lunch break. This will help your body know that it is daytime and will help with resetting your circadian rhythm.
2. Turn off electronics before bed
Computer screens, mobile phones, light bulbs, and televisions all give off what is called blue light. Blue light is similar to sunlight in its effects on the body. It misreads the light and sends signals to the brain to shut down melatonin production.
Try reducing your exposure to artificial lights 2-3 hours before you go to sleep. This will help ensure a high melatonin production by the time you are ready for bed.
Melatonin isn’t the only hormone that fluctuates with our sleep and wake cycles. Cortisol is the body’s natural stress hormone which also plays a role in our body clock. However, cortisol levels fluctuate on an opposite cycle. Levels naturally increase during the day and fall at night. When we are stressed, cortisol levels remain high and melatonin production cannot start until those levels begin to fall again. This causes our sleep cycle to become thrown off.
under control, which will decrease cortisol levels.
4. Kick caffeine to the curb
We all love a warm a cup of joe in the morning to kick start us for the day ahead. However, excess caffeine can negatively affect our melatonin production. Caffeine triggers our “fight or flight” response and sparks our stress hormone, cortisol. Drinking too much caffeine can make you irritable, nervous, and unable to fall asleep.
Try limiting your caffeine intake to one cup per day and before midday. If you are still longing for a warm drink later in the day, try making the switch to caffeine-free drinks. My go to are the Botanika Blends Medicinal Mushrooms Cacao mix and the Planet Organics Organic Chai latte.
5. Wear a sleep mask
Sleep masks make a great tool for better sleep. Wearing a sleep mask means less light makes its way into the body and brain, thereby helping to increase melatonin production. Sleep masks have also been linked with increased REM sleeping and reduced wakefulness, meaning you are more likely to sleep deeply throughout the whole night.
Try the Wheatbags Love beautiful hand made eye masks. They are my personal favourite as they are made in Australia with 100% cotton and perfect for blocking out light.