Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland. It is most well-known for helping to regulate sleep and for keeping the body in sync with the cycles of day and night – the peak of natural melatonin production is in the evening, when the sky becomes dark. This hormone also helps with immune health, and as a powerful antioxidant, it may help with cardiovascular well-being. While some people take supplements to help with sleep problems, there are also simple lifestyle habits that you can practice to help normalize melatonin levels.
When to Eat
Eating a heavy meal late at night is probably not the best way to get a good night’s sleep. Not only can eating late affect digestion, but it can also disturb your melatonin levels. The best way to normalize production of this hormone is to eat at the same time every day. This will encourage your body to follow a regular routine. Also, keep later meals on the lighter side. Digestion naturally slows down after nightfall as melatonin production increases. Eating heavy foods at this point is more likely to challenge your system and lead to digestive disturbances.
Working out on a daily basis is a great way to encourage better sleep, but exercise before bed can actually disturb sleep cycles. A vigorous workout can delay the secretion of melatonin. Getting your daily run, swim or yoga session done in the morning, preferably with a little morning sunlight, will encourage healthy, natural melatonin levels.
Give Up the Coffee
Coffee, tea, chocolate, caffeinated soda and other stimulants are things that you should avoid if you want to get on a normal sleep pattern. Switch to herbal teas such as peppermint and rooibos if you want to maintain regular melatonin production. If you have trouble giving up coffee, try cutting back on your caffeine intake by switching to a cup of green or black tea and only drinking it in the morning.
A good night’s rest is so important for both physical and mental well-being. Try these tips to help normalize melatonin production, reduce sleep troubles and improve your overall health.
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).