How to Get the Body to Release Melatonin

mature woman sleeping on bed
Melatonin is a hormone controlling your sleep-wake cycle. (Image: michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images)

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in your brain that controls your circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle. When light decreases in the evening, you produce more melatonin, causing you to feel sleepy. After you sleep, and it becomes light outside, melatonin levels decrease. However, increasing prevalence of artificial light, stimulant use and other factors can disrupt your sleep cycle, causing you to feel drowsy during the day and be unable to sleep at night.

Step 1

Young woman sunbathing on blanket in park, elevated view
Spend time in the sun during the day. (Image: Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Spend time outside in the sunlight during the day. It is not only the dark at night that causes higher melatonin levels, it is the orderly cycling between light and dark.

Step 2

Middle Aged Couple In Bed Together With Woman Reading Book
Darken your environment and allow yourself time to relax before going to bed. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Darken your environment and allow yourself time to relax before going to bed. Going to sleep is a process. You can't just flip a switch and be asleep. Relaxation without light or other stimulation allows melatonin levels to rise before bed.

Step 3

Redhead lying on the couch looking at laptop holding mug of coffee
Avoid excessive use of stimulants such as caffeine. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Avoid excessive use of stimulants. The effects of stimulants – such as caffeine, chemicals in tea, some anti-depressants and nicotine – prevent your brain from producing high levels of melatonin and interfere with its effects.

Step 4

Sleeping in sleep mask
Sleeping in complete darkness or use of an eye mask helps melatonin production. (Image: Mirko Vuckovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Maintain a dark, cool and quiet environment to sleep. Because the pineal gland that produces melatonin responds to light, artificial light, noise and discomfort can disrupt melatonin production and otherwise make it difficult to sleep well.

Step 5

Man crossing the street
Keep active during the day by taking a break for a brisk walk. (Image: felixmizioznikov/iStock/Getty Images)

Be active during the day. A sedentary lifestyle can disrupt hormone production in your body, including melatonin. The rise in growth and recovery hormones following exercise also increases the levels of melatonin produced at night.

Step 6

Woman listening to mp3 player
Try music therapy during your time before bed. (Image: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Reduce stress in your life. Physical and mental stress can lead to a rise in stress hormone levels, such as cortisol, that can interfere with your sleep cycle. Try aroma or music therapy during your time before bed to shed some of the stress from the previous day. Reducing your stress at night will help your body release melatonin.

Step 7

Pills on table and sleeping woman in background
Take sleeping medication. (Image: Ihar Ulashchyk/iStock/Getty Images)

Take sleep aids only as a last resort. They can be habit forming and only mask underlying problems.

Warning

Severely disrupted sleep can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you have persistent problems sleeping, see your doctor.

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