What are melatonin and the circadian rhythm?
The production of melatonin, often referred to as our sleep hormone, increases with evening darkness and is a central part of our body’s sleep-wake cycles. The circadian period of sleep/wake is around 24.2 hours and there are many endogenous and exogenous factors that can shift a circadian rhythm. Cortisol and melatonin are inversely related; cortisol peaks highest in the morning and melatonin is highest in the evening.
Reasons you can’t fall asleep: anxiety/stress, low melatonin levels, excess light/electronic stimulation, hormonal imbalances, medication/caffeine stimulation, neurotransmitter imbalances
Reasons you can’t stay asleep: cortisol (stress hormone) spiking in the middle of the night where you might feel ‘wired but tired’, dysregulation of our body temperature because of hormonal imbalances, blood sugar fluctuations, low oxygen levels, as well as liver health.
Sleep Hygiene Tips:
Keep regular bedtimes and wake times, even on weekends to train your biological clock.
Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
Avoid caffeine after 2 pm. Some people may be more sensitive, so limit intake before noon. This also includes caffeine-containing beverages, chocolate, etc.
Complete aerobic exercise or high-intensity interval training before 6 pm.
Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Do not use the bedroom for watching television, eating, etc.
Avoid watching anything that promotes negativity or stress prior to bed.
Journal your thoughts prior to bedtime.
Go to bed consistently between 10-11 pm; there has been a relationship with sleep onset timing and decreased risk of developing heart disease.
Incorporate breathing exercises, sleep sounds, or meditation prior to bed. Some great apps include calm, headspace, insight timer.
Consider Epsom salt baths; this will help with vasodilation and create relaxation and reduce muscle tension.
Avoid large meals and finish eating around 3 hours prior to bedtime.
Get regular exposure to outdoor sunlight; try watching the sunrise and sunset to help regulate our circadian rhythm.
Avoid sleeping near electromagnetic fields. Possible sources of electromagnetic fields include electrical outlets, clock radios, stereos, cell phones, computers, and monitors.
Make sure your sleeping area is in the correct temperature range (not too hot or too cold). The optimal sleeping temperature is approximately 65F which helps to facilitate the stability of REM sleep.
Make sure to stay from blue light and any stimulating light prior to bedtime. Stay away from electronics right before bed and consider setting the brightness as low as possible. Can use the Fluxx app on your computer, adjust your phone brightness under settings, and blue light glasses.
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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.