MELATONIN FOR SLEEP: DOES IT WORK?
By Molly Apel
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy
When you can’t get enough sleep, low energy and grogginess can totally throw you off your game. Not to mention, negatively impact your health. According to the CDC, more than a third of us in the United States aren’t catching enough zzzs. Things in our everyday life, from stress and excess screen time to jet lag and diet, can make it tough to sleep.
The key to quality sleep is a hormone called melatonin. And if you aren’t producing enough of it, your body can’t get you ready for rest. From sleep disorders to sleep problems related to work and family stressors, added melatonin is worth your attention. In supplement form, melatonin may be the natural solution you seek.
CORTISOL VS. MELATONIN
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s cycle of waking you up in the morning and winding you down at night. Depending on the time of day and amount of light, your body alternates the release of either cortisol or melatonin. A burst of cortisol begins your body’s wake-up routine, while an increase in melatonin for sleep gets your system ready for bed. And so the sleep-wake cycle goes.
Note: You’ve probably heard cortisol called the “stress hormone,” which sounds like something to avoid. In this situation, though, cortisol actually uses its powers for good. The hormone works to boost your body awake to get you moving each morning.
YOUR BODY DOESN’T ALWAYS PRODUCE MELATONIN
The short answer is no, your body does not always produce melatonin for sleep. And as you probably know already, this can make for an irritable and unpleasant next day. Daytime drowsiness is the pits—no matter how much Bulletproof Coffee you drink!
Here’s the good news: If you learn how to take melatonin, you can make great strides toward sounder sleep—especially if you are not producing enough melatonin on your own. Not sure if you need it? Take a look at the following scenarios…
1. IF STRESS KEEPS YOUR BODY FROM RELAXING
When you’re under stress, your body produces more cortisol to keep it ready for action. Bulletproof Scientific Affairs Manager Emily Gonzalez, ND, says that when you’re stressed out, your body keeps pumping out cortisol so you can tackle the challenge. (Unfortunately, your body won’t get the message from melatonin that it’s time to take a break and rest.) And, if your cortisol levels don’t come down, your natural circadian rhythm gets interrupted.
Additionally, Gonzalez says there’s another stress hormone that teams up with cortisol to keep you amped up by actually blocking melatonin production.
“Corticotropin-releasing hormone, which is the main driver of the stress hormone system, has been found to inhibit melatonin production in humans,” she says.
2. IF UNNATURAL LIGHT MAKES YOUR BODY THINK IT’S DAYTIME
“Your body releases melatonin in response to darkness,” offers Gonzalez. “Artificial lighting, computer screens, phone screens and televisions can all emit enough light to decrease or inhibit the natural release of melatonin.”
Essentially, this means if you’re exposing yourself to a lot of unnatural light as the sun goes down, your body won’t get the message that it’s time to produce melatonin and hop into bed.
3. WHEN DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME OR JET LAG MESSES WITH YOUR MELATONIN RELEASE
Daylight Savings Time and jet lag from travel can both throw a wrench in the whole works. Did you know your body actually has an internal clock that releases melatonin at the same time every day? This means that when the sun suddenly sets at a different time, your body will keep pumping out cortisol based on what it’s used to.
“Integrating more melatonin can help you adjust to jet lag and shift work when sleep is necessary during daylight hours,” explains Gonzalez. Whether it’s a new time zone, Daylight Savings Time or a shift in your routine, a dose of melatonin may be the remedy that allows your body to get the sound rest it needs.
HOW DOES MELATONIN WORK?
According to Gonzalez, taking melatonin can help you sleep when the outside world is not providing enough darkness to trigger the body to produce its own melatonin. “Also, melatonin is a non-habit-forming way to help people sleep when the circadian rhythm needs adjustment,” she says.
Additionally, melatonin is easily accessible as a natural, over-the-counter sleep aid. Because it is categorized among other dietary supplements, this means you don’t need a prescription for melatonin (like you do for sleeping pills). Moreover, melatonin doesn’t contain the same types of side effects associated with prescription sleep medication.
SUPPLEMENTING WITH BULLETPROOF SLEEP PRODUCTS
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, short-term use of melatonin is safe for most people. This includes the melatonin utilized in several Bulletproof Sleep Support product formulas, such as:
- Bulletproof Sleep Mode: A great starter product, this supplement contains 0.3mg of melatonin, along with L-ornithine to help you wind down and rest up.
- Bulletproof Sleep: Up your melatonin dose to 3mg and reap the benefits of various supportive herbal extracts to help you fall asleep, and stay asleep, in one convenient capsule.
- Bulletproof Sleep Collagen Protein: This easy-to-mix Lucuma vanilla collagen powder contains 3mg melatonin, chamomile and magnesium, which lends to a perfectly calming sleep tonic to complement your nightly ritual.
- Bulletproof Sleep Gummies: Bedtime is more fun when chewing on a science-backed blend of 3mg melatonin and 100mg GABA; our new Sleep Gummies have nothing to hide, contain 0g sugar and are junk-free.
Furthermore, Gonzalez says that one of the best things about supplementing with Bulletproof Sleep supplements is that the melatonin contained mimics the exact type of melatonin your own body produces. “For instance, Sleep Mode contains a physiological amount of plant-based, bioidentical melatonin, or the amount your body normally makes, while Sleep Supplement, Sleep Collagen and Sleep Gummies have more melatonin (3mg) for people who may need a bit more melatonin to support better, more restful sleep.”
HOW TO TAKE MELATONIN FOR SLEEP
When to take melatonin for sleep is a question for many seeking a good night’s rest. Our recommendation is to take your sleep supplement of choice 30 minutes before bed. This gives your body the time it needs to power down and prepare for some healthy, restorative sleep as the effects of melatonin kick in.
Pro tip: At Bulletproof, we believe in maintaining open lines of communication with your personal network of health care providers. Always seek medical advice if sleep is an ongoing issue, or before starting a new health regimen—this includes taking melatonin for sleep.
KEY TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP
If you’re dealing with sleep problems related to stress or other health conditions, fret not. In addition to integrating when to take melatonin for sleep, there are other solutions. Get the good night’s rest you need to remain healthy and productive by:
- Going for a walk: Get outside at dusk. This will give your body a chance to feel the temperature cooling off and the sun going down.
- Turning off screens: From work to social media to binging your favorite shows, you need a break from screen time. Try an old-school book! (Remember those?) Or, at least turn your screen on night-mode so you’ll get more red-toned light than blue light.
- Making time for relaxation and self-care: Your wellness routine should be a priority, too. (Sounds easy enough, right?) First, learn about how Bulletproof Zen Mode can help mellow your vibe. Then, take a bath, meditate with the help of an app or consider giving yoga nidra a try. Do the things that help you wind down, get your mind off work and clear your head so your mind and body can nestle into the sleep zone.
- Taking melatonin for sleep: Since melatonin is non-habit-forming, it’s easy to use when you need it. Take Sleep Mode in the evening when you can tell you’re going to have trouble getting to sleep, and you’ll feel the effects just a half hour later. This will allow for a peaceful entry into dreamland.
- Boosting your immune system: Sound sleep and strong immune health go hand in hand. Stay committed to immune support for better sleep, as well as good overall health.
Want to learn more about how supplements support sleep? Find out if collagen can help you sleep better and how to integrate it into your nightly routine!