Melatonin For Sleep
Is sleep evading you? Melatonin for sleep may offer some answers…
A naturally occurring hormone, Melatonin is linked to the sleep-wake cycle by clock cells in the brain that respond to environmental cues of light and dark.
Falling asleep is a very intricate biological process which is dependent upon the coordination between the simplicity of environmental light and dark and the complexity of the manufacture and release of Melatonin in the brain. Good sleep quality is dependent upon the coordination and synchronization between all of these processes as well as our own behavior in following good sleep habits. Melatonin for sleep is one important link in this chain of events which results in a good night of sleep.
What is Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured in the brain from amino acids, the essential biological building blocks of our bodies. You have probably seen various brands of Melatonin supplements in capsule, liquid, and chewable forms in the vitamin and supplement sections of stores where you shop. Melatonin for sleep is sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement and widely marketed as a “natural” sleep promoting substance. Unlike prescription sleeping pills, the effectiveness, purity and strength of the Melatonin that you see on the shelf is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is often promoted as being a safer solution than prescription sleeping pills for people who have trouble with sleep.
There are a number of questions which you might have before considering taking Melatonin as a sleep supplement. Is it really effective in causing us to fall sleep and how does it work in our bodies? Is it safe to take? Are there any side effects which can occur with Melatonin? Is it better to take Melatonin than to take a prescription sleeping pill? Before we discuss these questions, let’s review where Melatonin comes from and why it is so important for sleep.
Are There Types of Melatonin
Melatonin is synthesized in the brain by a structure called the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small pine cone shaped structure located deep between the two halves of the brain. The production of Melatonin occurs through a series of neurochemical transformations which begin with an essential amino acid building block called tryptophan.
The body cannot manufacture tryptophan, and so we must get it in some other way. Normally, we get tryptophan through foods we eat. Some foods rich in tryptophan include meats, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds, cheese, and beans. You have probably heard of tryptophan in relationship to drowsiness after eating a big turkey dinner, but it is probably our overindulgence in other turkey day treats which bring on the drowsiness rather than the turkey.
After tryptophan enters the body from our digestive tract, it is transformed through a step wise series of biochemical events into a compound called serotonin. Serotonin is a transmitter which allows communication between nerves in the central nervous system and brain. Serotonin-containing cells cluster in an area at the base of the brain called the raphe nuclei.
Serotonin containing cells send projections to the pineal gland. Once serotonin is available, the final conversion of serotonin into Melatonin occurs in the pineal gland. Serotonin also plays a role in our feelings of well-being and happiness, and some medications used to treat depression regulate serotonin levels.
What Causes Changes In Melatonin Levels
The peak of Melatonin secretion occurs during darkness, and the release of Melatonin is inhibited by light. Therefore, our Melatonin levels are almost undetectable during waking when light is present, and they are high and peak during the darkness of sleep. Melatonin is released into the circulatory system, and it can be measured in the blood, in saliva, and in the cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
There is a predictable cycle of Melatonin for sleep levels which is linked to our cycle of sleeping and waking. In most people, Melatonin levels begin to increase in the late evening hours prior to bedtime when we become drowsy. After we fall asleep, levels gradually increase until a peak in Melatonin occurs between approximately 2 am and 4 am. After this peak, there is a gradual decline in Melatonin throughout the rest of the night until levels are very low at about the time of waking up in the morning. During the day, Melatonin levels continue to remain very low until the next time we go to sleep.
We can see this pattern of Melatonin increase in the graph on the previous page of our sleeper.
The nightly pattern of Melatonin secretion is closely linked to our sleep cycle. As you might imagine, there are circumstances in which this normal pattern of Melatonin increase during sleep does not occur. One example is the pattern of Melatonin secretion in older people. There is calcification of the pineal gland as we age, and as a result, the production of Melatonin in older people decreases over time. In older people there is not a pronounced peak in Melatonin secretion during sleep followed by a decline, and it is thought that this change of the pattern in Melatonin release probably contributes to the deterioration of our sleep quality as we age.
This pattern of waking and sleep and the pattern of Melatonin secretion is called a circadian (from the Latin cira = about and dies =day) rhythm or a rhythm that occurs about every 24 hours. How does the pineal gland know when to make Melatonin just because it is dark? The answer is that this daily rhythm of Melatonin secretion is controlled by an internal clock in the brain which has neural connections to the pineal gland.
The Sleep Clock
If Melatonin is sleep’s messenger, then there must be a dispatcher which tells the Melatonin messenger that it is time to deliver the Melatonin. Such a dispatcher for Melatonin is present in the brain. Many studies have shown that a specialized group of brain cells functions as an internal clock stimulating the production of Melatonin from the pineal gland during sleep.
These clock cells are located in the hypothalamus, a brain structure which plays an important role in regulating several different functions including body temperature control, feeding, and sleep. These clock cells are collectively located in a part of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, usually abbreviated as SCN. Here, we will refer to the SCN as the internal “sleep clock”.
How does the sleep clock function?
The sleep clock receives light input from our environmental surroundings by a special pathway coming from the retina of the eye. After receiving this information from the eye about the level of environmental light—whether it is dark or light —, the sleep clock communicates this information to the pineal gland.
During daylight, messages from the sleep clock relay to the pineal gland that light is present in the environment, and the pineal gland suppresses the manufacture of Melatonin. During darkness, the messages from the sleep clock relay to the pineal gland that Melatonin production should increase. Thus, Melatonin levels increase or decrease depending upon information about the presence or absence of light which is received from the sleep clock.
What happens if the sleep clock is eliminated or if the sleep clock does not receive any information from the retina of the eye about whether it is light or dark in the environment? Surgical elimination of the sleep clock in animal laboratory studies results in a cycle of sleeping and waking which is called “free running”. In this condition, the patterns of sleeping and waking are random and bear no relationship to the daily cycle of light and dark. Similarly, in people who are totally blind, light is not registered by the retina of the eye and communicated to the sleep clock. These persons may also have free running patterns of sleeping and waking times which are not synchronized with the daily variation of day and night. In both of these circumstances, information about light from the sleep clock which controls the cycle of Melatonin is absent. Thus, Melatonin release and the sleep wake cycle become very disorganized under these conditions.
We are frequently exposed to light sources which can cause a shift in the pattern of Melatonin secretion and which can change our ability to sleep. For example, shift workers who work at night must be able to sleep during the day and remain awake at night. With jet lag, passengers who travel to Europe, for example, cross several different time zones, resulting in disorganization of their sleep. In both of these instances keeping a new schedule of sleeping and waking times will result in a shift in the pattern of Melatonin secretion which corresponds to the new schedule of sleep and wake.
Melatonin Symptoms & Effects
Melatonin is an important biological messenger which signals the onset of sleep in our bodies every night. As a result, Melatonin is considered to be one of the most important regulators of our ability to sleep. In our common human experience, sleep is a naturally occurring process that happens every night after a day of being awake. Our sleeping and waking times generally follow the 24 hour cycle of light (day) and darkness (night) which occurs as the earth rotates around the sun. When we go to bed at night, we expect to fall asleep and then expect, after several hours of slumber, to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and alert, ready for new day. Since sleep is such a common part of our daily existence, we rarely think too much about how our body “knows” to fall asleep.
In fact, it has been discovered that falling asleep is an intricate biological process which is regulated by an intertwined system of internal clocks, neurotransmitters, and hormones. Although many of the processes in the brain which produce sleep are still being studied, Melatonin’s important role in the control of our sleep cycles can be traced by looking at the series of events which occur before and during sleep.
Low Melatonin For Sleep Diagnosis
As with many Sleep Disorders, the first thing to do is to consult your local Doctor. It is likely that the first step in the diagnosis of Melatonin levels being an issue will be for you to maintain a Sleep Diary that typically tracks over a seven day period:
- The time you go to bed
- How long it took you to fall asleep
- Time you awoke
- Time you got out of bed
- Other times that you fell asleep each day and for how long
Your Doctor will also ask you about your lifestyle and whether there are any unusual of one off issues that may be at fault. If the issues are not easily resolved then you will most likely be referred to a specialist Sleep Doctor who will undertake a more exhaustive analysis.
Your Melatonin levels can be tested with a blood test, urine test or a saliva test. If you are worried that you may actually be Melatonin deficient, ask your Doctor about Melatonin testing.
Low Melatonin Level Treatments
- The first and most important issue in correcting a sleep scheduling problem is to keep a very regular time of going to bed at night and a very regular time of getting up in the morning. You should spend at least seven hours in bed at night. Select times of going to bed and getting up that are realistic for your lifestyle. It is important to maintain this same regular schedule on the weekends which often the most difficult. Even if you are not especially sleepy at night, keep your plan of going to bed at the same time. Another part of adjusting yourself to a regular schedule is to avoid daytime naps. If you sleep during the day, it will be more difficult to fall asleep at night.At first, it may be very difficult to stay on a new schedule. In some ways, maintaining strict regularity in sleeping and waking hours so that your body can reestablish regular rhythms is like being on a “sleep diet”. If we are dieting to lose weight, but eat whatever we want we will not see a decrease in weight. Similarly, if we do not follow our sleep diet and we chose to sleep any time we desire, we will not see a change in the ease with which we fall and stay asleep at on our desired schedule.
- Keep a diary of your sleeping and waking times as you begin your new schedule. It is difficult to remember with any accuracy from one night to the next what times you went to bed and what times you got up. By keeping a diary, you can review your weekly progress in keeping your schedule regular, and you will be able to identify times when you had trouble sticking to your schedule. .
- Everyone has had the experience of becoming involved in a project near bedtime, looking up at the clock and then realizing that it is much later than we thought. You don’t want to sabotage your efforts at keeping a new schedule because you are unaware of the time. We use alarm clocks to wake ourselves in the morning. If this happens to you, set an alarm for about an hour before your scheduled bedtime to remind yourself that it is time to start getting ready for bed.
- After you get into bed, it is important to turn off the television and other electronic devices that emit light in your bedroom. Black out drapes on your windows will keep light from entering your room. Keeping a darkened bedroom is especially important for shift workers sleeping during the day.
- Do not sleep with your cell phone in your bed, and do not text during the time that you are trying to sleep.
- Do not drink alcohol in the evening before going to bed. Alcohol is very disruptive to sleep, and although you may feel as though you are falling asleep more quickly, alcohol causes sleep to be interrupted and it modifies the electrical activity of the brain during sleep.
- Do not drink caffeine containing beverages before bed. This includes regular coffee and tea, cola drinks, or drinks containing chocolate. Also, most energy drinks contain caffeine, and these should also be avoided.
Initially, if you are having difficulty falling asleep on your new schedule, try not to worry about the fact that you are not falling asleep easily. Remember that adapting to a new schedule takes time. Instead of worrying, use calming visual imagery to relax yourself. Also muscle relaxation exercises can help your body relax so that sleep can occur.
Low Melatonin Level Prognosis
Where low levels of Melatonin in the evening are determined to be the key issue for your lack of sleep, your Doctor will most likely recommend a change in lifestyle to improve you Sleep Hygiene.
If things persist, then there are Over The Counter products that have moderate levels of Melatonin and in some cases, your Doctor may prescribe a high dosage course. In many cases, low Melatonin levels resolve themselves with changes in diet and activity levels and therefore the longer prognosis is generally good.
Do I Need Melatonin For Sleep
It is rare that increasing your Melatonin level through supplements or medications, especially in the evening, will exclusively resolve short or long term Sleep Disorders. Changes in lifestyle, activity level, Sleep Hygiene and the possible use of Snoring Mouthpieces or CPAP Machines will, in combination with Melatonin potentially provide you with a solution to your sleeping problems.
We highly recommend that you consult your Doctor, and potentially a Sleep Doctor specialist to help determine whether your need Melatonin for sleep in the longer term.
Melatonin For Sleep FAQ’s – Frequently Asked Questions
Since it is a natural hormone in the body, is Melatonin a sleep medication that anyone can take?
Unlike prescription sleeping medications, there is little evidence that the body becomes tolerant to Melatonin, that it has significant hang over effects of grogginess or drowsiness the next day, that there are withdrawal reactions when Melatonin is discontinued, or that there are dangerous side effects even at higher doses. A side effect which has been reported is daytime headache with Melatonin use. For many people, Melatonin is a helpful, non-prescription way of improving sleep along with the measures which we have discussed above. However, we should be aware that there are no long term studies spanning several months which have examined Melatonin’s possible long term side effects.
One group in which Melatonin may be particularly helpful is the elderly population who often have poor quality sleep along with decreased Melatonin levels at night as we have previously mentioned. Melatonin has been demonstrated in some studies to help improve sleep in patients with dementia and mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Hypertension (elevation of blood pressure) during sleep, in combination with blood pressure medications, may be improved with the addition of some Melatonin preparations. Another circumstance in which Melatonin has recently been demonstrated to be of help in improving sleep is in patients who are hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Melatonin may also improve sleep in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and there is some evidence that Melatonin may be effective in improving sleep in children who have difficulty falling asleep at night. However, it is of importance to remember that issues of safety have not been studied adequately in children to determine whether there are any long term side effects of Melatonin in children and adolescents which are not currently known.
In the pharmacy section of the store, I see that Melatonin is sold over-the-counter, and I do not need a prescription to buy it. Will Melatonin actually help me fall asleep at night if it is not a prescription drug?
There have been a number of studies performed in sleep laboratories using objective measurements of brain and muscle activity to evaluate the effectiveness of Melatonin in helping people fall sleep. Melatonin can help decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by about 10 to 15 minutes, and it increases total amount of time asleep at night by about 15 minutes. We can see that Melatonin does not have dramatic effects on improving sleep in many people. Many people who have difficulty with sleep may also have other undiagnosed sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or leg movements during sleep which will not be alleviated by Melatonin.
Melatonin for sleep is most effective in people who have an irregular or an unusual sleep wake schedule. In these cases Melatonin helps shift the sleep-wake cycle to the desired schedule for sleep and waking. Shift workers who sleep during the day or persons who have difficulty falling asleep at night because their Melatonin levels only begin to rise much later in the night than normal and which peak later towards morning (delayed sleep phase syndrome) appear to receive the most benefit from the use of Melatonin. Also, Melatonin has been shown to help with resetting the sleep schedule in jet lag which occurs when several different time zones are crossed on long trips, for example, flying from the East coast to the West coast.
Melatonin sold over-the-counter in the United States is eliminated from the body rapidly. The half-life, the amount of time that half of the drug is eliminated from the body, is short at about 60 minutes. There is a slow release version of Melatonin with a much longer half-life of several hours available in Europe and other countries outside the United States. This slow release version of Melatonin has been shown to be effective in improving sleep in insomniacs. Recently, a new class of prescription sleeping medications have been developed based upon the research into Melatonin. These medications interact with the same receptors in the brain that Melatonin does. One of these new medications is Rozerem (ramelton). The newest medication in this class approved by the FDA for very irregular sleep-wake schedules is Hetlioz (tasimelteon). You may have seen this condition advertised in the media as “non-24″ which occurs in blind persons.
I’ve heard that sleeping pills can be harmful to my health. Since Melatonin is a natural substance, wouldn’t Melatonin be safer to take than a prescription sleeping pill?
There are two issues which we need to consider before concluding that Melatonin is safer than prescription medications for sleep.
- The manufacture of over-the-counter Melatonin is not regulated by the FDA. If you examine the ingredients listed on a bottle of Melatonin, you might find the addition of herbal additives such as chamomile flower extract, lemon balm leaf extract, Valerian root extract, or lavender. Although these additives might also be considered as natural, these additives may produce an unknown allergic reaction or a more serious reaction in some people.You should also be aware that because Melatonin is unregulated as a dietary supplement, it may not contain the concentration of Melatonin as stated on the product label. A recent study which examined the amount of Melatonin contained in over-the-counter preparations was performed in Canada. Like the United States, Melatonin is also sold without prescription in Canada. Measurement of the Melatonin concentrations in 30 different products sampled in this study revealed that the Melatonin concentrations claimed on the product labels were often very different from the measured amounts. For many products, there was less Melatonin present than reported on the label. However, surprisingly many products contained more Melatonin than was reported. It is also that worth noting that different manufacturing lots of the same product also showed substantial variability. Another finding of the study was that about 25% of the products also contained serotonin, the precursor to Melatonin synthesis. This is important because serotonin is not an over-the-counter product, and as a neurotransmitter it has effects on many different biological systems in the body.This study suggests that if you consume over-the-counter Melatonin, you may be ingesting substances which are at best ineffective and at worst potentially harmful. It also suggests that more attention to quality control in the manufacturing process and labeling would ultimately make doses of Melatonin more consistent. It is true that Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance, but whether you are actually getting the amount Melatonin that you think you are getting might be questionable.
- It is the case that prescription sleeping pills can have side effects such as tolerance, withdrawal, and daytime hangover effects. These side effects were probably more extreme with older formulations of sleeping medications than more recently developed sleeping pills which work by different mechanisms in the brain. The major advantage of prescription sleeping pills is that they are regulated by the FDA and they are closely monitored with respect to manufacturing standards. Side effects, safety, and effectiveness are all carefully evaluated in several trial phases before these medications are available for physician prescription.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, you should always consult your physician. You may also consider contacting a Sleep Disorders Center accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in your area. In these Centers there are accredited sleep specialists who can provide you with guidance about normalizing your sleep habits and whether Melatonin or a prescription sleeping pill will be of benefit in improving your sleep.
Could Melatonin have any interactions with other drugs that I am taking?
Since Melatonin in a biological substance in the body, there is always the potential that Melatonin could interact with other prescription medications that you are taking. For example, Melatonin may interact with other sleeping pills. Even though Melatonin for sleep is considered to be generally safe, you should always check with your physician before you take Melatonin.
From our review we can see that falling asleep is a very intricate biological process which is dependent upon the coordination between the simplicity of environmental light and dark and the complexity of the manufacture and release of Melatonin in the brain. Good sleep quality is dependent upon the coordination and synchronization between all of these processes as well as our own behavior in following good sleep habits. Melatonin is one important link in this chain of events which results in a good night of sleep.
This material, research and analysis was conducted on behalf of the American Sleep Association by:
Kristyna M. Hartse, Ph.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM)
Fellow, American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
Registered Polysomnographic Sleep Technologist (RPSGT)
Registered Sleep Technologist (RST)
Certification in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH)
The Mystery of Sleep, Meir Kryger, M.D., Yale University Press, 2018.
The American Sleep Association (ASA) was founded in 2002 by a group of Sleep Professionals seeking to improve Public Health by increasing awareness of the importance of Sleep in ensuring a high quality of life, as well as the dangers of Sleep Disorders. Currently, our focus is on resolving and alleviating Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Narcolepsy, Sleep Deprivation, Night Terrors, Melatonin for Sleep and Snoring. Through the Research of others, the ASA Members and Board are committed educating millions of people on the importance of sleep health.
Melatonin For Sleep Case Study
A Disorganized Sleep-Wake Schedule: The Case of Robert
The sleep clock and the cycle of Melatonin release are flexible, and can, over a period of one to two weeks, adapt to a new schedule of sleeping and waking times. Good examples of this adaptation occur in shift workers who sleep during the day and stay awake at night. However, the key to adapting to new schedules is in keeping a very regular pattern of going to bed and getting up. This regularity avoids confusion in the sleep clock and in the messages dispatched to the pineal gland. Since light and dark are critical elements in signaling the inhibition or release of Melatonin for sleep, you can imagine that if someone has an irregular pattern of going to bed and getting up at different times how this could result in disorganization of the sleep cycle. In other words, irregularly changing our sleeping and waking times can cause confusion for the sleep clock and as a result there is variability in the rhythm of Melatonin release.
The Disorganized Sleep of Robert
Let’s look at the case of Robert, a 23-year-old man with a very irregular sleep schedule, and look at how his irregular sleep affected his life. Robert had self-diagnosed himself as a person who “just didn’t sleep”, and he was unaware that the scheduling of his sleep was his worst enemy. He had such trouble with his sleep that he was in danger of losing his job as the result of sleeping past his scheduled time of reporting for work. When he did get to work on time, he got so sleepy that he would make errors in reading invoices and filing, and on occasion he would briefly drift off to sleep. As a result his supervisor had disciplined him, and he was afraid that he would lose his job.
Robert’s sleep problem began about three years ago, and it has gotten worse over time. He has now begun to worry excessively about the impact that his sleep is having on his job, and he lies wide awake worrying about not falling asleep. Unfortunately, these worries only worsen the problem. Robert consulted his doctor about what he saw as his inability to sleep. Robert is young and is in good physical health. There were no symptoms of other sleep disorders such as loud snoring, sleep apnea (episodes of stopping breathing during sleep), narcolepsy symptoms, unusual movements of the arms or legs during sleep, or any episodes of unusual activities such as sleep walking, nightmares, or bedwetting.
Further investigation about his inability to sleep revealed that Robert’s bedtime during the work week was very irregular, ranging between about 9 pm and 2 am. He set his morning alarm for 5:30 am so that he could be at work at 7 am. He had such difficulty waking up in the morning that he had three morning alarms set 10 minutes apart so that he would eventually wake up and not oversleep. He frequently got only three or four hours of sleep per night. As a result he felt sleepy during the day, and often took a two hour nap in the early evening.
On the weekends Robert made no attempt whatsoever to keep a regular sleep schedule. He often stayed up all night and went to bed as late as 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights. He then slept until between 2 and 4 pm the next afternoon. Not only was his schedule even more irregular on weekends, but when he did sleep, he got more than his usual amount of sleep at night. As a result he was not sleepy enough to go to bed earlier than 4 or 5 am the next weekend night or on Sunday night before work the next day. On the weekends, he often went out drinking with his friends. However, Robert did not think that his schedule was a problem.
Robert consulted a sleep specialist, and the first thing that the specialist requested him to do was to fill out two weeks of a daily at-home sleep diary. Below is one week of the most important entries in Robert’s diary showing his bedtimes, his estimated length of time to fall asleep, his arising time in the morning, and whether he felt sleepy during the day.
|Bedtime||4 am||1 am||10 pm||10:30 pm||12:30 am||2 am||6 am|
|Time to Fall Asleep||1 Hour||3 Hours||15 Min||3 Hours||2 Hours||1 Hour||20 Min|
|Arising Time||1 pm||9 am||5:30 am||7 am||6:45||6:30 am||3 pm|
|Did you fall asleep today?||Yes-3 times||Yes-4 times||Yes-1 time||Sleepy
There are several things that we can see from just this one week of Robert’s sleep diary.
1) His bedtimes during the work week are very irregular. These bedtimes range between 10 pm and 2 am. On the weekends he says up much of the night and sleeps until early afternoon.
2) His times of getting up during the work week are also irregular, ranging between 6:30 am and 9 am. On three and possibly four days during the work week it is almost certain that he was late to work. On weekends he sleeps until early afternoon.
3) Robert is very sleepy during the day, and finally began describing himself as just being sleepy all day. Most evenings before going to bed, Robert typically watched television and played video games up until the time that he thought he felt sleepy. He usually kept the television on throughout the night. He never actually attempted to sleep until he thought that he could fall asleep. Also, he often ate immediately before going to bed. He kept his cell telephone in bed with him, frequently waking up and sending text messages back to his friends during the night.
Robert had tried taking prescription sleeping pills. However, his method of taking sleeping pills was to wait for a couple of hours when he could not fall asleep at the beginning of the night, and then he would finally take a sleeping pill. He still often took 20 minutes or so to fall asleep after taking the sleeping pill. He often felt sleepier than usual in the morning after one of these nights.
From what we have learned about the effects of light and dark on the sleep clock and the cycle of Melatonin, it is not at all surprising that Robert feels as though he has trouble with sleep. His sleep schedule is in total disarray, and he is exposed to light from the television and other devices when he is trying to sleep. We would probably not agree with Robert that there is no explanation for why his sleep is so poor. At this point Robert was instructed to take some measures for improving his sleep schedule with the goal of improving the way that he felt during the day.
Resetting Your Sleep Schedule
With just a brief look at Robert’s story and a small portion of his sleep diary, we can immediately identify a number of issues contributing to his perception that he just can’t sleep. We can easily imagine that Robert’s internal clock is receiving light messages at highly variable times, and his pineal gland is completely “in the dark” so to speak about when Melatonin should be produced. Thus, it is difficult for his body to coordinate the time of Melatonin release with his sleeping and waking times.
What happened to Robert, our very disorganized sleeper?
A follow-up revealed that he did struggle to apply the suggestions which we outlined earlier in the above article. His greatest challenges were first, keeping his bedtimes and arising times regular, especially on the weekends, and second, disconnecting himself from his light emitting electronics when he went to bed. He did use Melatonin for sleep for about three weeks which helped him fall asleep more predictably. Gradually, the timing of Robert’s sleep improved, and now he is able to sleep on a fairly regular schedule without the use of Melatonin. The biggest change for Robert was realizing how important a regular schedule is in assuring a good night of sleep. His major worry in life—waking up in the morning for work— has been eliminated, and he no longer feels sleepy during the day.