It's been some time and you haven't been sleeping so you heard melatonin is all the rage and decide to try it. With much excitement for a good nights' rest, you jump into bed, jammies on and pop a melatonin under the tongue.
Much to your surprise, upon waking, you notice perhaps the nights sleep was slightly better, but you wake up feeling groggy and hungover.
This is the story I hear 90% of the time when I meet melatonin users. The truth is melatonin is a sleep hormone made by the pineal gland that helps to regulate your sleep and awake cycle. This means that the need for melatonin would be when this sleep and awake cycle, often referred to as your circadian rhythm, has been thrown off. Shift workers, pilots, or those that are night owls staying up all night and needing to nap through the day are typically in need of melatonin.
According to research conducted at MIT, the correct dosage of melatonin for it to be effective is 0.3mg (1). Meanwhile many melatonin supplements available on the market are 3 to 10 times the amount your body would benefit from when needed.
Keeping in mind that melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles it is not a sleep initiator and on going long term use can affect your hormones, further creating a sleep issue.
So is melatonin really for you?
We have to uncover why you are not sleeping and sorry but there is no one cure all in this or any case!
So let's get to the root of the matter...
Why Are You Not Sleeping?
This is where I usually get a glare in return and a response much like, "because I'm just not!" Fair enough, you haven't been sleeping and you put on your cranky pants this morning, but before you get your panties in a knot, hear me out. This type of generalized answer will just not do if you plan on actually addressing your sleep, so let's dig a little deeper, shall we?
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself. Are you not sleeping because:
You have a busy mind
You are stressed
You are in anxiety
You are in pain
You have a hormonal imbalance, such as adrenal fatigue
You work shift work and your bodies circadian rhythm has been flipped
You stay up all night and need to nap throughout the day
The majority of people answer yes to one of the top 5. In this case, we do not have a sleep issue we have another underlying issue we need to address. For example if you are in pain at night and it is waking you, this is not a sleep issue, this is a pain issue, address the pain. If you are stressed and your mind is spinning and it's either waking you up or preventing you from falling asleep, this is a mind issue, not a sleep issue.
Sleep is the symptom and when we view it as such, the possibilities and chance for healing greatly improves. According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the hours of the night that you wake or struggle to sleep can be a reflection of an imbalance that resides in a specific orgran or even suppressed emotions. For further understanding as to which organs are needing your attention based on your hours of waking, read here.