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Sleep is a tricky thing. Some of us are naturals—we easily wake to light and sleep with darkness like gold medalists, as if sleep were an Olympic sport—while others are not. The American Sleep Association estimates that 50-70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. And according to a 2017 article in the Journal for Neurological Research, individuals with sleep disorders can spend an average of $2,000 more a year in medical expenses, compared to those without sleep interruption.
Anyone who has suffered from too little sleep knows it adversely impacts much of life, like emotional and physical well-being. People who don’t get enough sleep are more vulnerable to delayed reaction times, depression, obesity, and maybe even heart complications. So, how do we fall and stay asleep when counting sheep and other common tactics just don’t work? The answer may be a dose of melatonin.
What is melatonin?
Simply put, melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces. It’s a chemical messenger, per say, that responds to some sort of stimulate (in this case, darkness) that affects other parts of the body. Melatonin is synthesized and released from the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain.
How does it work?
Actual darkness signals the pineal gland to awaken and release melatonin into the bloodstream. While the clock may indicate it’s bedtime, bright light (natural or fluorescent) may inhibit the production and release of melatonin. Therefore, avoiding bright screens before bed or pulling the shades may help you get more Z’s.
When do you use it?
Knowing when to ingest extra melatonin will require a conversation with your medical provider. However, the National Sleep Foundation says intervention may be needed to aid sleep when behavioral changes have proven ineffective, completing daily tasks become difficult, or when lack of sleep is leading to stress. Also, melatonin may do the trick to improve sleep onset, duration, and quality, when other pharmaceutical interventions have proven ineffective. And it does it with less measurable side effects (yay!).
Increasing consumption of melatonin-containing foods may promote healthier sleep cycles. Cherries, nuts, mushrooms, fish, and eggs are good dietary sources. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy route, you can also get melatonin supplements without a prescription. According to an article in the Nutrition Journal (2014) titled “The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature,” it’s the most frequently requested over-the-counter sleep aid because evidence has shown its effectiveness getting individuals to sleep more quickly, and resetting sleep cycles.
Risks Associated with Melatonin Supplementation
Melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there may be some risks associated with taking the supplement. For example, the dosage listed on the package may not accurately reflect what is in the pill. You must also be mindful of when and how much you take, as supplemental melatonin increases the body’s level of the hormone higher than what’s naturally occurring. This may cause a reset in the body’s natural clock to an undesirable rhythm. That said, there have been no cases of toxicity or overdose on melatonin recorded at this time, according to the National Sleep Foundation. More research is still being conducted regarding its long-term effects. It’s always best to consult your healthcare provider prior to starting supplementation.
Disclaimer: The statements made in this article are NOT intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Always check with your medical provider or registered dietitian before making dramatic shifts in your lifestyle.
Sources: American Sleep Association – Sleep Statistics / Journal for Neurological Research (2017) – A Review of Sleep Disorders and Melatonin / National Sleep Foundation – Sleep and Melatonin / Journal of Nutrients (2017) – Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin / Nutrition Journal (2014) – The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature
We couldn’t ever say one story is “the best.” There are moments, and people, and achievements we are proud of happening all year long! Sometimes it’s a mental victory, beating a long-term physical struggle, a community rallying around someone, or all of the above. Each has their merit. Here are some of our favorites from 2017! Find many more (and submit your own!) inspiring tales at MyAnytimeStory.com.
Marcia has officially lost 200 lbs. in one year. But the transition wasn’t quick and easy. Her son’s wedding was what inspired the dramatic lifestyle change. “Their wedding day was beautiful and a few weeks later, we saw the beautiful photos from the photographer. All was fine until I was faced with a picture of my son and I dancing the mother/son dance together. I was in total disgust as I looked at myself in the pictures. Who was this person? Had I really gotten that big?”
At his heaviest, Lou Maldonado weighed 540 pounds. An emotional conversation with his 9-year-old son prompted Lou to join Anytime Fitness in Mays Landing, NJ. Gym owner Myke Collazo took a personal interest in Lou and helped him lose 300. Now, Lou is enjoying life to the fullest with all three of children – and golfing with his new friend, Myke.
At her heaviest, Karla Pankow weighed 300 pounds. Fast-forward to today, Karla has lost more than 100 pounds. She’s now a firefighter, a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, a Certified Personal Trainer working on her Emergency Medical Technician certification, and she’s incredibly active and much healthier and happier than she’s been in years. How did Karla Pankow accomplish so much? A big part of her turnaround has to do with personal trainer Heather Clark.
“In May of 2016 I stood on the scale for the first time in a long time. My weight was 375 lbs. I was in disbelief that I had let it get so out of hand. I’ve spent the better part of 8-9 yrs over 300 lbs. but never thought I’d be that close to 400 lbs. I made a promise to myself to stop taking advantage of my body and to follow through with a healthy life style for 1 year. That promise has brought me so far, and I committed to a 2nd year, and plan to continue forever.”
Lexi and Danny Reed
When Lexi and Danny Reed got married two years ago, Lexi weighed 485 pounds and Danny weighed 280 pounds. They were doing what a lot of us do — spending their free time relaxing with takeout and TV and not finding time to exercise or eat healthy. Lexi was tired all the time and even got out of breath walking. Finally, the two had had enough.
Everyone starts somewhere. For Gerald Yenny, it was a place of pain, too much weight, and a warning from his doctor. With help from personal trainers at the Anytime Fitness gym in Batesburg-Leesville, SC, Gerald has lost a remarkable 150 pounds in less than a year, despite multiple back surgeries that limited his mobility. But the weight-loss pales in comparison to the love and support Gerald received from his Anytime Fitness family when personal tragedy struck.
Heidi has lost 150 pounds and hopes to lose another 90. But her weight loss journey is about a LOT more than numbers. After lots of hard work and time with a personal trainer, she’s learned valuable lessons to keep propelling her toward new goals.
When Jen Frazier suddenly lost two loved ones, she was faced with a “huge wake-up call.” She knew she had to change her lifestyle if she wanted to live a long, healthy life and be there for her friends and family. She went from battling high blood pressure to running half-marathons and doing a triathlon. Her journey was anything but easy, but she made some incredible accomplishments along the way, like her bike tour through Tuscany, Italy! Read on for her full story on PopSugar.com.
She was barely a year old when Ashton Parsons was first diagnosed with cancer. She survived, but was diagnosed with another form of cancer at age 14. Multiple orthopedic surgeries left Ashton weak and in constant pain. But, with help from a personal trainer at the Anytime Fitness gym in Wake Village, TX, Ashton is now healthier than she’s ever been – and so strong that she competes in powerlifting meets.
In January 2014 Lydia Dziubanek felt profoundly unhappy. She was overweight and trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship, while raising three young boys. As she struggled with depression, she started having suicidal thoughts. Read the rest of her story on Today.com.