A new study has found that chronic disruption of one of the most basic circadian (daily) rhythms -- the day/night cycle -- leads to weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes.
Chronodisruption, or an imbalance of this circadian rhythm is becoming more and more prominent with increased exposure to artificial light at night. Here we are looking at time spent watching television, on an IPAD or your phone.
This chronodisruption often leads to sleep disruption, which in turn leads to people looking to supplement for sleep aid. For many people, the go-to is to increase their melatonin and the easiest way to do this is through a melatonin supplement. The problem here is that the more melatonin you supplement with, the less melatonin your body produces on its own, thus continuing the cycle.
We need melatonin (produced by our body) to help detoxify, rebuild and rejuvenate.
Here are some ways to natural boost your melatonin production and limit the side effects of chronodisruption:
1) No artificial light at night. Try and avoid artificial light 2-3 hours before bed. Blue light (from your phone, computer, and tv) has been shown to block your melatonin production both while you sleep and first thing in the morning when you need it to help wake up.
2) Get some sunlight. In order for your body to maintain it's circadian rhythm your body needs some natural light. In order to maintain melatonin levels at night your body needs to completely shutdown melatonin during the day. This can only be accomplished if you are exposed to natural light during the day.
3) Eat melatonin rich foods. Most plants have higher levels of melatonin because they need it for their own cycles. Some foods that have higher levels of melatonin include; goji berries, tart cherries, walnuts, almonds, pineapple, tomatoes, banana, and oranges.
4) Take a hot shower or bath before bed. It has been shown that getting in some hot water before bed will lower cortisol levels, resulting in higher melatonin levels.
5) Regulate your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant linked to lower melatonin levels. Avoiding caffeine after 2pm is beneficial to maintain proper melatonin levels.
6) Mediate before bed. Finding time for some mindfulness before bed will help lower cortisol levels and get your body ready for sleep.
7) Eat tryptophan rich foods. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to melatonin production. Foods like spirulina, cottage cheese, garbanzo beans, liver, pumpkin seeds, turkey, chicken, tofu, almonds, peanuts and yogurt.
Take a look at your sleep patterns, and start implementing these things to naturally boost those melatonin levels, especially if you are popping supplements to sleep daily.