Most of us start to make progress towards a better nights sleep by making small changes in our lives. For example, we may cut out coffee completely. Some of us may compromise and only drink it early in the day (it can take 6 hours for your body to get rid of a half cup of coffee). Others may choose to listen to a classical music public radio station instead of watch TV to help them calm down at night. If the lifestyle changes you have made still do not add up to a good night’s rest, then supplemental melatonin might help your insomnia.
Melatonin Ð micrograms, not milligrams
Most studies have shown that melatonin works well for sleep, but the key is to not take too much of it. Once you go over approximately 500 micrograms (half of a milligram), you start to fill up the receptor sites in your brain in a manner that prevents the melatonin supplement from having the desired effect. Try to locate melatonin that only has 300 Ð 500 micrograms per capsule or tablet. If you are only able to find 1mg tablets, you can try splitting the tablets in half with a pill splitter. Melatonin is best taken approximately 20 to 30 min. before bedtime, and can be used as needed during the night should you wake before morning.
Too much light at night?
For those who work night shifts or who have to use a computer late at night, then you are likely negatively impacting your natural melatonin production. A hundred years ago, the extent of artificial lights were gaslamps. But as computers, televisions and fluorescent bulbs become more prevalent, we’re getting more and more of the natural darkness at night stolen away from us. People who work night shifts do so under electrical lights. The problem with electrical lights and computer screens is that they emit a new spectrum light that interferes with our natural production of melatonin. If you are not able to turn off or get away from these lights at night, here are two suggestions:
- Keep some melatonin tablets on hand to use during the latter part of your shift. This can help boost melatonin production, but make sure you know how it effects you as you don’t want to get too drowsy and not be able to perform your job. There are fruit flavored melatonin supplements that dissolve under the tongue and are convenient to take anywhere.
- Try using specialized glasses to block the blue-spectrum light that interferes with your production of melatonin. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000USRG90/
- If you use a computer at night, try using f.lux (mac / windows) to recalibrate the color intensity of your computer screen (it will adjust to a warmer hue at night) while using a blue light for a lamp. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001I45XL8/