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Is Your Melatonin Working? What may be Keeping You Up at Night

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It is a common bedtime routine to watch television, check social media, or read on a tablet before eventually closing your eyes. Although these tasks can be entertaining and relaxing after a long day, they may actually contribute to the reason why you have difficulty sleeping.

Research suggests that exposure to bright, artificial light before bed can actually reduce the production of an important sleep neurotransmitter called melatonin.

In the biochemical pathway of melatonin, it is converted from another neurotransmitter called serotonin. This conversion of serotonin to melatonin has been shown to be regulated by light. When light exposure decreases, melatonin production increases, which makes you sleepy.

Dim Light Melatonin Onset (DLMO) and Melatonin

In a study, participants (healthy volunteers) were either put into a room with bright lights or a room with dim lights prior to sleep. Researchers then measured melatonin levels in the blood plasma of these participants. The results of the study were profound.

Melatonin Synthesis

Compared to individuals exposed to dim light before bed, researchers discovered that 99% of individuals exposed to bright light before bed had a later onset of melatonin production and that duration of the bright light group’s melatonin production was shortened by about 90 minutes.

They also found a greater suppression of melatonin synthesis in participants who slept with room lights on as opposed to participants who slept in darkness.

How to Improve Sleep

The implications of this study on bedtime behavior is significant. To better aid in sleep, we need to be preparing our bodies for bed.

There are some simple things that you can do to potentially help you sleep better, such as turning the screen brightness down on your devices and switching off bright lights around the house a couple hours before bed.

 

In addition to lifestyle adjustments, ask your doctor about Sanesco’s neurotransmitter assessment. If your serotonin measures low, this may also impact melatonin production and interfere with sleep.

When serotonin is low and sleep issues are present, implementing supplemental support for serotonin synthesis with the ingredient 5-HTP can help restore serotonin levels. This may make serotonin more bioavailable for its conversion to melatonin, which can allow for a better, more restful night’s sleep.

 

Reference

Gooley, J. J., Chamberlain, K., Smith, K. A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Rajaratnam, S. M. W., Van Reen, E., … Lockley, S. W. (2011). Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 96(3), E463–E472. http://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2098

 

Clinical Contributor

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Connie Shoemaker, ND

Connie Shoemaker, ND

“Educating Sanesco’s clients is the culmination of a life’s work.” Beginning when she left the hospital environment to manage a functional laboratory, Genova Diagnostics (formerly Great Smokies Laboratories) in 1987, Dr. Connie Shoemaker has continued to increase her knowledge of herbs and biochemistry as a journey of love. With her bachelor’s in science from Western Carolina University, she had worked in hospital laboratories for the first twelve years of her career. Then, personal health challenges led her to discover a new approach to her health and a determination to share it with others. In 1991, she began teaching and educating innovative practitioners in the U.S. and internationally as a manager of marketing, sales, and customer service.

The addition of her Doctor of Naturopathy degree to her existing knowledge base expanded her knowledge and her respect for a more natural approach to healing through balance. At Sanesco, she initially served to oversee technical development of products and services.

Now, she educates Sanesco’s clients on application of the CSM™ model for their specific patients and how to integrate the CSM™ model with other modalities they offer in their practice. In her personal life, Connie educates private clients on various health topics.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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One of our feel-good neurotransmitters; when it is deficient, we can suffer mood disorders, sleep issues and carb cravings.