4 Foods That Stimulate Melatonin Production

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the pineal gland, a pea sized organ located in the center of the brain. It is secreted when the body experiences darkness which triggers the sleep cycle to begin.

This is called the circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle and when it is out of balance from activities such as jet lag or late night shift work, a melatonin supplement is recommended.

Under the Microscope

Studies vary regarding whether melatonin is a beneficial sleep remedy or if it has no effect.

A Vanderbilt University report on melatonin stated that,

“The findings show that melatonin is proven to be an effective sleep aid and also help alleviate jet lag…By taking melatonin tablets before bedtime, one can supplement their melatonin levels, making sleep come more easily and sleeping more consistently.”

Science Based Medicine describes how melatonin may be minimally effective,

“In adults, a 2005 meta-analysis suggested that melatonin would reduce the time to fall asleep by four minutes, while increasing total sleep duration by 13 minutes. Another 2005 meta-analysis drew a similar conclusion: melatonin was well tolerated but not very effective, improving the time to fall asleep by 12 minutes.”

Dosage

If you decide to try a melatonin supplement as a sleep aid, check with your doctor first. If you have health condition or are pregnant do not use this supplement.

Due to everyone’s pineal gland being its own unique makeup, melatonin can affect each person differently.

Therefore, it is recommended that the dosage should begin low and slowly increase depending on the body’s reaction. 1-1.5 milligrams is a good start.

Take note of any sleep changes that occur no matter how insignificant they may seem, even unexpected dreaming. If there is no reaction after one week, slowly up the dose.

If you ever feel groggy or irritable the next day your dose is too high. Keep in communication with your doctor during your melatonin therapy.

Long term use is not recommended. Once your sleep cycle is where you want it, wean yourself back to a low dose and then discontinue. Use as maintenance if you experience jet lag or any other sleep cycle change.

Foods that Stimulate Melatonin Production

Sometimes adjusting your diet can help increase melatonin levels. Certain foods contain compounds that may help.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology (Oxford Journals 1/10/12) stated that,

“A primary function of melatonin in plants is to serve as the first line of defense against internal and environmental oxidative stressors.”

  • Cherries – Some say eating cherries (tart is best) about an hour before bedtime will help quickly increase melatonin levels.
  • Bananas – These sweet treats are sometimes referred to as nature’s giant yellow sleeping pills. The potassium and magnesium relax your muscles and their amino acid, L-tryptophan assists in the production of serotonin (the feel good chemical) and melatonin.
  • Chickpeas – Had some hummus for dinner? Get ready for some L-tryptophan as well. Chick peas contain this as well as folate and B6 two important regulators of sleep.
  • Dark Leafy Greens – These super foods (kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, etc.) come to the rescue once again as they contain significant amounts of calcium potassium and magnesium a trifecta of sleep inducing, melatonin producing minerals.

The above journal study goes on to describe concerns on how abundant melatonin may be in our food chain without even knowing we are consuming so much,

“…remarkably high melatonin concentrations have been measured in popular beverages (coffee, tea, wine, and beer) and crops (corn, rice, wheat, barley, and oats). Billions of people worldwide consume these products daily. The beneficial effects of melatonin on human health derived from the consumption of these products must be considered. “

Use melatonin supplements wisely and stay in contact with your doctor. Also experiment with certain foods before bed. Hopefully it will lead to a natural slumber.



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