Insomnia is such a prevalent medical condition in this day and age of our fast-paced world. Juggling the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whether it is school, work, parenting, or family, can really do a number on our stress levels. Add a tinge of anxiety and depression, and this can be a recipe for some major sleepless nights.
Medications should never be our first choice when tackling insomnia, however. Most insomnia can be treated well with some behavioral changes, albeit not always easy to accomplish but quite worth the effort. The goal should primarily be to allow your body and mind to learn to fall asleep on its own, chemical free. And then to seek medication if all else fails.
But I know that the reality is that many seek over-the-counter sleep aids as a first step. Aside from antihistamines, melatonin seems to be a popular first choice amongst many.
But does it work? Is it safe? And what is the proper way to take it?
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland, a structure that sits tucked well inside the brain. This hormone regulates sleep patterns, referred to as our “circadian rhythm.” When night falls, melatonin levels rise almost ten-fold, commanding our bodies and mind to wind and eventually shut down in order to rejuvenate. In the daytime, when exposed to sunlight, melatonin levels are then suppressed. Hence, we then feel awake and most alert.