You’re done with your work day.
You’re on your way home.
Maybe you’re stuck in traffic.
You’re sitting down and feeling the weight of the day roll off you and it feels amazing to be out of there.
You get a little bit sleepy on the way home.
But you still have the evening ahead of you (cook dinner, eat dinner, snuggle with your boo on the couch and catch up on Season 3 of Stranger Things ((okay…Big Little Lies actually…))
And return texts you’ve collected throughout the day
And browse Facebook -->(like, love, laughing face)
And browse Instagram -->(like, stories, follow, spiral down the rabbit hole that is IG, watch cute animal videos ((thanks @thedodo and @animalsdoingthings …))
And check your email 3-4 more times
Then you get into bed but you like falling asleep to The Office, or Friends, or Parks and Rec
So you pull out your laptop and doze off to the familiar sounds of Ross and Rachel arguing about being on a break, Joey and his whole “How you doin?!” ploy to get another women to sleep with him, and the sweet sounds of Smelly Cat for the 7000th time…
You know what just happened there, from the moment you turned on the TV to watch BLL?
You were slowly but surely suppressing the production of melatonin that is secreted from your pineal gland in your brain.
It is insane how powerful this hormone is.
The Magic Of Melatonin
Melatonin is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating your sleep cycles and circadian rhythms.
Melatonin is neuroprotective -- meaning it protects your brain.
Melatonin mitigates the effects of oxidative stress on the body.
It enhances immunity
It regulates the stress response of the body
It has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties
-->In fact, whenever a tumor is formed in the body, it grows a separate network of blood vessels to supply itself with blood and nutrients so it can thrive and … ultimately take over. This is called angiogenesis. BUT… did you know that melatonin actually inhibits the tumor from growing that network of blood vessels? <--
Like it stops the tumor from being able to grow the blood vessels, thereby inhibiting the very nature of the tumor from taking over and creating a mess of things in that amazingly gorgeous body of yours! True story. Read the study here. Omg right?!
In what may be the largest prospective research study on the risk factors of chronic disease in women, the Nurses Health Study has looked at hundreds of thousands of nurses over 3 generations, and gathered data on everything from diet, lifestyle patterns, environment, and nursing occupational exposures and their impact on health.
They found that nurses who engage in shift work (so…. me, all my friends, lots of other people who aren’t my friends, and tons of people right this very second all over the planet …) have an increased risk of developing breast cancer as compared to nurses who did not work the night shift. That’s enough right there to make me want to stay on days forever…
The amount of melatonin that the pineal gland produces is influenced by light that your retina picks up. The more light hitting your retina, the less melatonin the pineal gland will produce. Lack of melatonin means you’re probably not getting as restful sleep as you could be.
And when you aren’t getting restorative, high quality sleep, you may experience a host of horrid things like:
trouble with weight control
increased risk of cardiovascular disease
increased risk for certain cancers
suffer from chronic stress
experience lowered immunity
suffer memory problems and mood disorders
experience trouble concentrating, and
experience lowered libido
(how many times have you been exhausted beyond words, and the last thing you want to do is have a roll in the hay with your boo? Listen y’all. We are all young and life is short. We should all do everything we can to preserve the excitement and desire to be intimate with the one we love)
SOOOO YEAH. LACK OF MELATONIN = LACK OF RESTORATIVE SLEEP = A LESS VIBRANT AND AMAZING LIFE ALL AROUND
Where my nurses at?! For the past 10 years of my life, I have been doing shift work at the hospital.
Yep… coffee at 7pm so I can stay the heck awake for 12+ hours (lets be honest, its more like 13…)
More coffee around 2am because #nightshiftlife
Restless sleep during the day because there’s not enough melatonin produced throughout the day time to give you that amazing restorative sleep you desperately need, and because the rest of the world is awake during normal business hours and the construction workers building the new condo across the street from you don’t care if you’re a night shift nurse!!
(PS did you know that your body still knows that it’s day time, even if you’re dog tired and trying to sleep during the day because the body is freaking incredible like that?? You CANNOT fool your circadian rhythm. You can try, but the body's innate intelligence is way smarter than you think.)
How To Improve Your Body's Natural Production Of Melatonin
Use a blue light filter on your phone and computer
Set them to turn on at 7:30pm. I like Flux for the computer and I just downloaded a free one on my phone
Dim the lights in your house around 8pm
Avoid garish overhead lights after the sun goes down. Buy some pink salt lamps to scatter throughout your house for some ambient, relaxing lighting. Put a salt lamp night light in your bathroom so you can do your nighttime things without having to turn on the big overhead light
Avoid looking at a screen all together about an hour before going to bed
The blue light filter helps, but you’re still staring at a screen of artificial light. Get into some non-screen involving habits like reading, coloring, meditating, or journaling
Diffuse lavender essential oil
Its so super relaxing, and if used often, the brain starts to associate lavender with “its time to wind down now…" so you will get into the rhythm of relaxing quicker and easier
Avoid caffeine or other stimulants too late in the day
After 12pm is my hard cut off time, as it will absolutely stimulate your adrenals to produce even more cortisol and adrenaline throughout the afternoon and into the evening, and when you are in fight or flight, you can't rest and digest
Eat melatonin containing foods
These include bananas, pineapples, almonds, goji berries, and walnuts
Get at least 15 minutes of natural light each day
The exposure to natural light keeps the you energized throughout the day and helps to reset your circadian rhythm, but likewise helps the body know when its nighttime and that it’s time to start secreting melatonin.
Melatonin. It’s your friend.
It’s insanely important to the optimal functioning if your body, from helping your immune system do its job all the way to preventing cancer. It’s a big deal. Take it seriously.
Nourish yourself so that you always have enough melatonin floating around. Ditch the screens as the night goes on, too. Instagram will be there in the morning. Have trouble falling asleep? Establish a new ritual and be patient with yourself. We all have some work to do. Now get off the computer and go get an amazing night’s sleep!
What are you doing tonight to help your melatonin?! Leave me a comment below! Or email me if that’s your style!
Sleep sweetly, my friends. Til next time,