The pandemic has negatively impacted sleep, and experts worry about the growing and widespread reliance on sleeping aids. A new study found that more and more adults are taking over-the-counter melatonin to sleep. Published in JAMA medical journal, the study found that Americans are taking more than twice the amount of melatonin they took just a decade ago. Sleeping aids and melatonin, in particular, may have negative health consequences and long-term safety of continued use is unknown. Instead of relying on sleeping aids, training your brain to sleep is the most effective way to fall asleep faster.
Why is Melatonin a Potential Health Hazard?
Harvard sleep specialist, Rebecca Robbins, stated that taking sleeping aids has been linked in prospective studies with dementia and early mortality. In addition, melatonin is also linked to headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, drowsiness, confusion, disorentiation, irritability, low blood pressure, and mild anxiety, depression, and tremors.
The problem with over-the counter melatonin is that it is not fully regulated by the US FDA, so pills may contain much higher levels of melatonin than what is actually advertised. For short term treatment, the recommended dosage is five milligrams of melatonin per day. However, research found that commercially available, unregulated melatonin supplements contained -83% to +478% melatonin content than what is written on the label. Without proper regulation, there are no requirements for companies to test pill content for the amount of advertised melatonin and for the potentially harmful hidden additives in the supplements.
Melatonin Is Not Very Effective
Melatonin is actually a hormone, not an herbal supplement or vitamin, as many people may think. It is naturally made in the brain and released into the bloodstream to regulate the body's sleep cycles. However, the implications of taking artificial melatonin are unknown and linked to various side effects.
Even though melatonin may help induce sleep if used correctly and taken at least two hours before bedtime, the actual benefit is very small. Melatonin supplements only decreased the amount it takes to fall asleep by four to eight minutes according to University of Washington professor, Dr. Cora Collette Breuner.
Prepare Your Brain for Sleep
There are many other proven sleep hacks that may work just as well, if not better than sleeping aids.
1. Stop using smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs at least one hour before bedtime. Artificial light produced from these devices and any LED spectrum light source slows or stops melatonin production. If you like to read to help fall asleep, use a real book with a dim light or an e-reader set to night mode.
2. Keep your bedroom temperature cooler at night. Set your thermostat to 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts claim that we sleep better when we are a bit chilly.
3. Create a sleeptime ritual. Take a warm bath or shower, read a book, or listen to soothing music. Calming exercises like deep breathing, yoga, or other light stretches can relax the body.
4. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends and days off. The body likes routine.
5. During the day, be sure to get approximately 30 minutes of exercise per day, and avoid caffeinated products several hours before bed.
Wearing socks to sleep have been scientifically proven to help fall asleep faster and promote effective, deep sleep. Body temperature while sleeping tends to drop, so the temperature in your extremities, like your feet, can become too low. Wearing socks to bed maintain the ideal body temperature to help you get more consistent rest.
Zensah calming sleep socks are ideal for helping with sleep issues and the best socks to keep feet comfortable. Our sleep socks are made of an ultra-soft blend of yarns to remain warm and breathable. Made with sustainable merino wool and tencel, Zensah's sleep fuzzy socks are lightweight and will help maintain temperature without causing excessive heat retention or sweating. Zensah sleep socks are the perfect sleep socks to help you get a restful sleep.