2 minute read

What’s the link between melatonin and sleep?


Your body needs melatonin – it effectively acts as the body’s sleep conductor. That means it can regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, control the sleep-wake cycle, and help create a healthy sleeping pattern. Basically, it plays an underrated part in helping you get some shut-eye.

But how does it actually work?

How does melatonin regulate the sleep-wake cycle?

When it gets dark, your body naturally produces melatonin and it peaks in the early hours of the morning. It blocks the wake-promoting hormone, orexin, which then tends to make you feel more sleepy. The amount of melatonin released throughout the night should help you fall asleep, but as you know, there are external factors that can prevent you from getting some shut-eye. 

One example is an irregular sleep-wake cycle. 

What happens when your sleep-wake cycle is out of sync?

Your sleep-wake cycle can fall out of sync due to a variety of sleep disorders. The most common are insomnia, jet lag, and working different shift patterns, typically throughout the night. 

Working nights is disruptive to your sleep-wake cycle. The body stays awake throughout the release of melatonin, which throws off your body’s sleeping pattern and makes it hard to establish a regular routine.

How is melatonin impacted by jet lag?

You’ve probably experienced jet lag before. It’s a common issue after spending time across several time zones and it can be tough to overcome. The irregularity of sleep times naturally throws off your body’s circadian rhythm. After experiencing jet lag, it’s important to re-establish a healthy sleeping routine to get your melatonin levels back in sync.  

How do I regulate my sleeping pattern?

You need to build healthy habits to form a restful nightly routine. 

Create a relaxed sleeping environment and maintain it every night. That means putting your phone down an hour or two before bed, going to sleep at the same time every night, and using your bedroom for sleep only. You should also avoid late-night coffee and a few bottles of beer before bed. Once you get into a healthy routine, you’ll unlock the benefits of regularly sleeping well. 

Can I naturally boost melatonin?

One of the best ways to boost melatonin is through foods, typically eggs, fish, legumes, and seeds. 

Another way to boost melatonin is through sunlight. It seems counterproductive to expose yourself to sunlight in order to sleep, but daytime sunlight helps you sleep at night. Effectively, sunlight kickstarts the production of melatonin earlier, leading you to feel more tired come nightfall. If you want to boost your chances of sleep, get regular bouts of sunlight throughout the day. 


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The numan take

Melatonin plays a critical role in your body’s sleep-wake cycle. When you’re in a healthy sleeping routine, melatonin has likely helped to establish that routine. If you’re still struggling with sleep, start adopting healthy habits. Eat the right foods, get out during the day, and transform your bedroom into a restful sanctuary. Once healthy habits are formed, you should find it easier to nod off at night.