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melatonin

As a person who prioritizes their sleep and would take any supplement to assist in having a good night’s rest, I, like many, have hopped on the melatonin train. 

Speaking from personal experience, melatonin, for better or worse, did exactly as it was advertised to do — helped me go to sleep instantly. What I didn’t expect was the morning after, as I woke up groggy, lethargic, and otherwise gross.

This strange, complicated experience led me down what can only be described as a melatonin rabbit hole.

According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin is utilized to help symptoms of insomnia, jet lag, and sleep disorders by assisting in circadian rhythm adjustments. Melatonin production and release is connected to the time of day, by releasing at night and decreasing during daylight.

Since our body produces melatonin naturally, a supplement is suggested for only short-term use, and while it is commercially available, it is recommended that you consult a physician before taking the supplement.  

While all of this information was helpful to understand, I still wanted answers as to why my melatonin hangover was as rough as it was.

According to the Wise Ape Company, when regularly used at high quantities, melatonin creates a reaction in the body similar to feelings of deep sedation. Your brain may then reduce production of natural melatonin for the body due to the oversupply of the supplement, increasing the next night’s dosage which can manifest into a vicious cycle of short-term fixes for a larger, and growing, sleeping problem.

It should also be noted that melatonin, like most supplements, isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of what ingredients are in the supplement, and what you’re actually putting into your body 

Not to mention, due to a general lack of research on long-term effects, melatonin has not proven to be a truly sustainable sleep aid. Instead, health professionals recommend creating a sleep routine, drinking tea to wind down, avoiding stimulants (such as caffeine), and placing more attention on one’s lifestyle habits for a better sleep. 

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For those who are stubborn with their daily routine, maybe give magnesium a try. Magnesium is a nutrient that regulates muscles, blood sugar, blood pressure, and even the body’s production of melatonin. Unlike melatonin, magnesium doesn’t put our bodies to sleep in deep sedation, but relaxes our muscles and brain activity to achieve a more natural slumber and consistent sleep rhythm. 

It’s easier than you think to give that gentle nudge your body needs to feel a bit sleepier come bedtime. While magnesium deficiency is common in adults due to lifestyle and dietary choices, there exists an easy fix manifested in daily habits.

Consuming more magnesium-rich foods — spinach, cashews, soy, avocado to name a few [CQ1] –  can relax the body by regulating neurotransmitters responsible for calming the nervous system. For me, it’s as simple as adding a generous scoop of diced almonds in morning smoothie bowls, and sprinkling a layer of dry chia seeds over my avocado toast. 

And if you’re still craving that extra boost, magnesium comes in many forms. A friendly over-the-counter supplement can work wonders in naturally swaying your body to bed. For many, falling asleep is easily done within minutes of shutting one’s eyelids. For others like myself who need some extra support, taking a magnesium supplement became the more viable option to achieve that dream state more quickly.

While melatonin not only lived up to its advertised promises of deeper sleep, it also exceeded them beyond belief. Waking up with a fog of drowsiness, I just couldn't seem to shake off this lingering feeling even late into my next day. With each tablet I took, I was met with the uneasy tradeoff of a deeper night’s rest for the next day’s productivity, only to affirm an unsustainable habit that just never felt worth it. 

Given all of the health benefits and the wonders magnesium can do for quality sleep, it’s in your best interest to let melatonin take a step aside, and offer magnesium a fair try. 

Reach writer Jayla Wilson at opinion@dailyuw.com  Twitter: @jaylawilsonn24 

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