The pineal gland, deep in the brain, is responsible for the production of melatonin, and adequate levels of melatonin are necessary for restful sleep. The body produces between 5 and 25 mcg of melatonin each night, according to the book "Melatonin." This amount decreases as you age, which can lead to restlessness and trouble sleeping. While you can take melatonin supplements, you can also boost melatonin production through natural means, as there are various lifestyle changes you can make to increase the amount of melatonin your body produces.
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Increase the amount of daylight you are exposed to, particularly in the morning. Add an early morning walk to your routine as soon as you get out of bed.
Go to bed early enough to get enough sleep. Staying up late can alter the production of melatonin, making you drowsy during the day and more alert later in the evening.
Eat foods rich in the nutrients niacinamide, vitamin B-6, calcium and magnesium, suggest the authors of "Melatonin." Niacinamide is found in green vegetables, fish and red meat; vitamin B-6 is abundant in fortified cereals, turkey, chicken and bananas; cheese, dark leafy greens and milk contain calcium; and magnesium is also found in dark leafy greens, as well as in whole grains and legumes.
Consult your doctor if you are taking medications that lower melatonin. Certain drugs, such as calcium channel blockers, lower melatonin production, note the authors of "Melatonin." Calcium channel blockers treat angina, high blood pressure and other heart conditions, so do not stop taking the medications without talking to your physician first.
Deal with stress. Use exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling or some other method of reducing stress. High stress levels can suppress the production of melatonin, according to "Melatonin."
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- "Melatonin"; Russel J. Reiter, et al.; 1996
- MedlinePlus: Melatonin
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Melatonin
- Mayo Clinic: Niacin (Vtamin B3, Nicotinic acid), Niacinamide
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; Micronutrient Information Center- Vitamin B6; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; February 2002
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium