In a previous article or two, we discussed the role of melatonin, or what’s commonly referred to as the sleep hormone, in helping us doze off and then get a good night’s sleep.
To review briefly, it’s the melatonin in one’s system that makes it possible to fall asleep and then to stay asleep. Though the body creates melatonin naturally when the conditions are right, we sometimes do things that interfere with the production process. Aging also naturally decreases our store of melatonin.
It’s through our eyes that the melatonin production process is triggered. Specifically, when it’s dark, the sensation is conveyed through the retina to the brain to start melatonin production. Conversely, when it’s light, the body assumes it’s daytime and doesn’t produce malatonin. (So now you know why it’s important to avoid light when you’re trying to sleep.)
To help maintain a healthy melatonin level, there are methods you can employ that do not involve taking supplements, which of course is a direct source for increasing your melatonin level.
One method is simply to consume the right foods and drink. Researchers in Thailand did tests of melatonin levels in people after consuming oranges, pineapples and bananas, all of which are great sources of melatonin. Results confirmed that both melatonin and antioxident capacity increased significantly in the blood after ingesting the fruits.
Other sources of melatonin include tart cherries, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, almonds, walanuts, flax and sunflower seeds, corn, oats, wheat, rice and barley, olive oil, wine and beer — all substances considered part and parcel of the Mediterranean Diet. Be careful with caffeine, however, since it has been shown to retard melatonin production.
Another method is to wear a sleep mask to block all sources of light from hitting your eyes. This might prove especially useful on a trip or in a location where you can’t really control the light sources.
Still another method is called blue blocking. Researchers discovered that it’s the blue light in sunshine that blocks the production of melatonin, while red light has no effect. So if you need a night light, use a red bulb for the source. You can also use blue-blocking glasses to read and otherwise function a few hours before going to bed. This will trigger the production of melatonin.
A final method is called sun soaking. Basically, this means to spend as much time during the day as possible in the sun, soaking it in. Then when you go to bed in a totally darkened room, the body will be more prone to produce melatonin due to the stark contrast between the sun and the dark room.
Most of all, you need to make sure, if you have sleep or snoring problems, that you seek professional advice and treatment. Sleep is too important to your health and overall functioning to shrug off nighttime problems as “normal.” Help is available at places like The Snoring Center. Make an appointment today.