Goldilocks and Melatonin

Too little melatonin at night can cause fatigue.

Too much melatonin during the day can also cause fatigue.

You’re melatonin needs to be just right for you to feel at your best. You’re just like Goldilocks!


What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone made by your pineal gland – a tiny, pea sized gland deep in your brain.

Melatonin gets triggered to be secreted when it’s dark. Melatonin stops being secreted with light.


Melatonin is one of the main drivers of our sleep-wake cycle.

If you don’t sleep well at night…

If you’re a light sleeper and you tend to wake up with the smallest noise…

Or you toss and turn all night…

You might not be making enough melatonin to keep you in deep sleep.

Of course, this leads to low level sleep deprivation over time.

And fatigue.


Low Melatonin Due To Bright Light

You may not produce adequate melatonin simply because you’re exposed to bright light for far too long into the evening.

Bright light from television screens.

Bright light from computer screens, tablets, and iPhones.

(These are worse than televisions because they’re actually brighter than television screens.)


The remedy for this is to stop all computer, tablet, iPhone, and television use two hours before bedtime.

Use dimmers on your lights, and two hours before bed, dim the lights.

Read a relaxing book, something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking, like light fiction. You might like to knit or crochet. You can even journal.

Anything you can think of that does not require bright light or brain power, that’s what you should be doing at bedtime.


Melatonin – too much during the day, not enough at night.

Some people make too much melatonin during the day and this leads to fatigue and grogginess.

Think about how you typically feel during the winter months – when the days are short and sky is cloudy more days than not.

Yes, that feeling is from too much melatonin in your system during the day.

A great remedy from this is a sun lamp, or light box.

In fact, this is why light boxes work so well – especially during the winter months.


Testing Your Melatonin

Melatonin can be tested with a simple saliva test.


Treating Melatonin Imbalances

Melatonin is made from serotonin.

When women do not produce adequate melatonin, it makes me wonder, “Why? Are they not making enough serotonin, either?”

The biggest source of serotonin production is the digestive tract.

The digestive tract is responsible for upwards of 90 percent of the serotonin production for your body.


Oftentimes, poor sleep is a sign of low melatonin, which is because of low serotonin production, which is actually due to an underlying digestive problem – like a chronic infection, food allergies, or leaky gut syndrome.

Sleep “Hygiene”

Sleep “hygiene” is a term we use to describe the necessary factors for promoting good sleep.

You’ve heard of oral hygiene—the necessary factors to promote good oral health, like brushing and flossing regularly. Well, there’s sleep hygiene too.

One of the easiest tools I have found to improve quality of sleep across the board (and I do this myself) is a simple eye mask.

This will often give you deeper, more restful sleep because it blocks out ALL light.

(Even small amounts of light from alarm clocks can blunt melatonin production and affect your sleep.)

If the eye mask works for you, then it’s time to block out all sources of light in your bedroom.


Your bedroom should really be like a cave.

You shouldn’t even be able to see your hand in front of your face…

That’s how dark your bedroom should be.

If you can still see your hand, your room isn’t dark enough.


I personally got my wake-up call on this when I went on a cruise. My room was an inside cabin, so there were no windows.

To me the inside cabin was claustrophobic—until that first night I went to sleep.

I remember there was light spilling into the room underneath the cabin door, so I stuffed a towel under the door to block the light.

Once I did this, the room went completely black, like a cave. I had to be careful not to break a toe on the furniture.

And you know what? My husband and I both slept like babies! Every night we had deep, refreshing sleep.

From that day forward, I knew how important it was to sleep in cave-like darkness.


So block out all sources of light from your bedroom. Light creeps in around window shades and blinds.

Stop this with light blocking shades.

You also get light from alarm clocks, phones…pretty much anything electrical these days will cast some sort of light.

I recommend taking all unnecessary light-emitting electronics out of the room completely, or cover up the lights completely before you go to bed every night. It will be worth it.


And if you have too much melatonin…

Again, if you suffer with too much melatonin during the day a simple light box or sun lamp will help.

Use it first thing in the morning to stop your brain from making more melatonin.

Light boxes need to be close to your face and eyes and used for 20-30 minutes.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions on your particular light box.


Make a promise to yourself starting today:

Stop feeling lousy…rotten…awful…crummy…miserable…terrible…crappy.

Find a good Functional Medicine doctor to help you get to the root cause of your health problems.

Like I always say:

Find the cause.

Fix the cause.

Feel normal again!

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