Sleep deprivation can have profound effects on human health. In recent years, it has been shown to strongly correlate with many modern health epidemics, such as obesity, type two diabetes, and hypertension. Mood disorders, alcohol abuse, and a shortened lifespan are other likely results of chronic sleep deprivation. In fact, data collected from three large cross-sectional epidemiological studies revealed that sleeping five hours or less per night increases one’s overall mortality risk by roughly 15 percent.
While some people, being unaware of these risks, pass up on sleep intentionally (in the aim of having more time to work or to enjoy themselves), many others are well aware that sleep loss is negatively affecting their lives, but find themselves unable to get a good night’s rest. It has been estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder, whether caused by sleep apnea, anxiety, frequent travel, or another less common condition.
How is this epidemic being treated?
Traditionally, sedative medications have been prescribed to combat insomnia, but this is a risky business. These medications often come with side effects that include hallucinations, memory issues, excessive daytime tiredness, sleepwalking, and engaging in other behaviors such as eating and even driving while in a “lucid dream” state. Obviously, that can be incredibly dangerous.
Similarly, traditional sleeping pills can easily interact with other medications or alcohol to lower the body’s heart rate to life-threatening levels. And, in addition to all of the aforementioned, they can be highly addictive. This puts those who suffer from sleep problems in a dangerous place—either way, they are putting their health at risk, whether via sleep loss or medication use.
But there is a better way: natural melatonin supplements.
Much of the issue with traditional sleeping medications is that they attempt to mask the symptoms of insomnia rather than treating the underlying problem. Our bodies regulate sleep using something called a “circadian rhythm,” which is largely controlled by the release of a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin, in essence, tells our bodies when it’s dark, and thus time to start settling down for the night.
Many of the things we encounter daily in our lives can interrupt or delay melatonin production, such as the “blue” light given off by computer and cell phone screens (which our bodies confuse for daylight.) Likewise, some sleep disorders, such as delayed sleep phase disorder, are the result of the body producing melatonin at the wrong times (in the early morning, rather than at nightfall), regardless of that person’s efforts to practice perfect sleep hygiene.
Natural melatonin supplements, when taken 90 minutes before bedtime, fill in for what the body should be doing naturally—producing melatonin so that you slowly wind down for a good night’s rest. Melatonin supplements are not a “sleeping pill,” but rather a hormone, so they do not carry any of the risks traditional sleeping pills do. They are non-addictive, will not leave you drowsy the next day if taken properly, and do not suppress the central nervous system, so the risk of accidental overdose is remote. In short, melatonin attacks the cause of insomnia, not the results of it, and helps to reset your body’s “internal clock”—after a week of taking melatonin, you should be able to fall asleep naturally at the time you wish to, as your body’s circadian rhythm will have been naturally adjusted to do so.