how melatonin affects your brain

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced out of serotonin by your pineal gland, a tiny pine cone-shaped gland deep within your brain.

What Does Melatonin Do For You?

Melatonin’s main job in the body is to regulate night and day cycles or sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. As the sun sets your pineal gland goes to work, releasing increasing amounts of melatonin into your blood stream. As melatonin levels rise in the bloodstream, a sedative effect is obtained, thus inducing sleep.

Melatonin release gradually slows then stops between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Light decreases melatonin production and signals the body to prepare for being awake.

This is why I encourage you to dim your lights as you prepare for sleep and to use black out curtains so that you are sleeping in darkness.  Any glow producing “blue light” from electrical devices such as your TV, computer, iPad or smart phone is enough to fool your body and slow down or stop the release of melatonin which can then lead to disruptive sleep.

Melatonin Goes Beyond Sleep Issues

Exciting studies show that melatonin’s multifaceted effects may improve treatment outcomes in cancer patients and extend their lives. Additional applications of melatonin include guarding the nervous system against degenerative diseases—such as Alzheimer’s disease and stroke—and preventing debilitating migraines.

Low Serotonin Can Cause Low Melatonin

If you suffer from low serotonin levels, then you typically will not have enough to convert into melatonin.  The result could be difficulties in falling asleep (night owl syndrome) and/or staying asleep.

Note: Being a night owl is NOT A GOOD TRAIT OR HABIT.  It is a key symptom of either abnormally low serotonin or excessively high stress-coping hormones (cortisol and adrenaline).

To make melatonin, your body takes tryptophan (amino acids) with key nutrient cofactors (like those found in the Total Health Pack) and converts it into 5-HTP and then further into serotonin and then further still into melatonin.

To learn how to raise serotonin naturally please go to: Raise Your Seratonin Naturally

Who Should Use Melatonin

Who Should Use Melatonin?

It is a safe supplement and so anyone can try it.  It really depends on whether or not you are low in melatonin or not. 

Melatonin won’t help you sleep if you are deficient in magnesium or have severe adrenal exhaustion.  For step-by-step guidance in overcoming any sleep issue, please refer to my instantly downloadable Sleep Tight e-manual here: Sleep Tight e-Manual

How to Take Melatonin

If you are very low in serotonin and having sleep issues, you may need to take melatonin along with your tryptophan or 5 HTP (with the Total Health Pack) until your serotonin levels are back to normal.

It’s a bit of a balancing act between the melatonin and tryptophan and/or 5-HTP but as you go along it is safe to experiment within our recommended dosage range. 

For information on tryptophan and/or 5htp go here: Raise Your Seratonin Naturally

With Melatonin, less is more. You want the minimum amount for the best effect.  If you take too much, you can potentially be groggy when you wake in the morning.  Start with ½ tablet (approx. 1.5 mg) about ½ hour to 1 hour before bed.  If you aren’t feeling sleepy by bedtime, take the other ½ tablet (chew it for faster action).  This can be increased by ½ tablet (1.5 mg) at a time to a maximum of 5 tablets (15 mg). My recommended melatonin can be found here: Melatonin New Roots 3 mg

It is 3 mg per tablet and can easily be broken in half.

Some people only need as little as 1/2 tablet while others may need 3 to 5 tablets to feel sleepy.  I personally have taken as little as one tablet and occasionally have taken as many as 5.  Most commonly if I need melatonin, just one tablet chewed (for faster action) right before bed, helps me to drift off within 20 minutes.

The goal is to feel sleepy enough to fall asleep effortlessly, and stay asleep all night.  Initially though, you may have minor awakenings (this is normal) but you should be able to get right back to sleep.  If you wake in the wee hours and can’t get back to sleep, you can try taking another ½ to 1 tablet of melatonin (chewed) to see if this helps you get back to sleep right away.

If you have “busy brain” you may also want to take the calming amino GABA.  (Refer to Health Solutions “The Dangers of Cortisol and What You Can Do About It” found here: The Dangers of Cortisol and What You Can Do About It

Discontinuing Melatonin

Many people have resumed normal sleep patterns on as little as 3 mg per night to as much as 15 mg per night.  It is non-addictive and once normal sleep patterns have resumed can be discontinued without withdrawal symptoms.  It can be used again whenever needed. 

I would suggest staying on the minimum dosage that induces a good night’s sleep for at least 3 months.  If you are taking more than one tablet per night, I would suggest weaning off the way I suggest for any nutritional supplement.  You want to find the lowest dosage that will retain your results.  For example, you may find that in the beginning 4 tablets were required, then you cut down to 3 tablets and after 2 weeks find you are still sleeping well so you cut your dosage to two tablets and find that your sleep is again interrupted so you would return to 3 tablets and maintain on that for at least another 30 days before trying to reduce your dosage again. 

It is safe to remain indefinitely on the lowest dosage required to induce a good night’s sleep.  

good nights sleep with melatonin

Make Sure You Don’t Sabotage Your Sleep Efforts

Melatonin Enemies

  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol (may get you to sleep but wakes you up in the night)
  • Chocolate (especially dark, try magnesium instead if you crave chocolate).
  • Aspirin, Tylenol
  • Most anti-depressants like Prozac, and sleep medications (all promote shallow, not deep sleep).

Have you ever caught yourself reaching for a glass of wine to “calm you down” in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep”?  Or has your doctor put you on an anti-depressant to help you sleep?

Look at the list above.  Now you know why these methods often fail.

Given that there is a correlation between healthy melatonin levels and both sleep duration and quality you want to ensure that you are producing adequate amounts of melatonin.

Until you have established restful sleep patterns again, you will want to eliminate melatonin enemies (if you are on an anti-depressant, please get help from a qualified Health Care Practitioner).

You can also help your body increase your production of melatonin with the following.

Melatonin Raising Tips

  1. Avoid exposure to bright light close to bedtime, as it could retard melatonin production. This includes TV, computer screens, iPads, and smart phones for at least an hour, if not two, before bed. The darker the better as the evening wears on.  Ideally, your rooms should be lit by no more than a small table lamp or reading light.
  2. When it is bedtime, make sure your room is very dark.  Black out curtains are recommended. If for some reason you cannot create a dark sleep environment, then a comfortable sleep mask can create the dark you need to help raise and maintain your melatonin levels. Keep the temperature in your bedroom a few degrees cooler as well.
  3. Not only does sunshine give you life-saving vitamin D, it also helps to raise your melatonin production at night.  If you are around bright light early in the day (another reason to embrace your mornings!), your melatonin levels will rise higher at night.  When you can’t get out in bright natural daytime light, you can use 150-200 watt incandescent bulbs or full spectrum fluorescent lamps that supply 25,000 or more lux (equivalent to 150-200 watts). You’ll need to be within three feet of this light for the full effect.

Copyright Brenda Eastwood 2020: 10 How To Balance Your Sleep Rhythm With Melatonin