Sleep can be one of the hardest things to do and yet it should be one of the easiest tasks to perform. With the constant demand of our modern lifestyles it is easy to see how sleep has become even harder to achieve. Between high stress jobs, poor nutrition, to over stimulation, it is no wonder sleep has become so difficult to get. Our brains are being forced to work overtime with no end in sight. While there are some that may believe this increases our productivity rate, the reality is that we are far less productive when sleep deprived.
Trouble With Sleep
Losing as little as one hour of sleep has the ability to dramatically reduce the ability to focus. Sleep deprivation has become a pandemic globally. Approximately 70% of Americans suffer from sleep problems. From children falling asleep in class to adults falling asleep behind the desk or wheel it is clear something needs to be done. With an average of approximately 1 out of 5 car crashes occurring due to drowsy driving in the US alone. It is safe to say something needs to happen to improve our sleep. One of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation is due to irregularities in our sleep cycles.
How To Get Back On Track
Several things can cause our circadian rhythm to get off track. However, one of the most common reasons for disruptions with our sleep is due to fluxuations with our Melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced from Serotonin. It is created in the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a pea-sized gland located in the middle of our brain. It aids in the regulation of our sleep clocks. One of Melatonin’s main functions is to regulate this portion of the brain, which is why it is more commonly known as the sleep hormone. Melatonin does not make you sleep, however, it is critical in signaling the body for sleep. Serotonin is responsible for the production of Melatonin and for triggering REM sleep.
Get To Know Melatonin
Melatonin can be difficult to find in foods. In fact, there are only a handful of foods that naturally contain Melatonin such as cherries. In order to aid in the production of Melatonin we need to consume foods that are high in tryptophan. Foods that are high in tryptophan are used to produce Serotonin which then produces Melatonin. There are other ways to ensure that our Melatonin levels are at healthy levels. Some of the easiest ways to achieve a healthy level of Melatonin are daily sunlight exposure, reducing stress, exercise, avoiding blue lights at night, and sticking to a sleep schedule.
At A Higher Risk
Individuals suffering from the following health related issues are at a higher risk for having low Melatonin levels:
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Low Blood Flow In Heart
- Restless Leg Syndrome
Are You Too Low?
When it comes to determining if our Melatonin levels are too low here is a list of signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Trouble Sleeping
- Changes In Mood
- Menopause Symptoms
- Symptoms Of Low Thyroid Hormone
- Digestive Issues
- Rapid Aging
- Sensitivity To Temperature Changes
Are You Too High?
Too much Melatonin can also have damaging effects on our sleep and health. The following is a list of signs and symptoms that are associated with too much Melatonin:
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
- Joint Pain
- Abdominal Pain
Is Your Body Doing Too Good?
One of the most common issues is that individuals suffering from sleep deprivation will increase the production of Melatonin (or not use it for the signaling of sleep). The levels of Melatonin, then continue to rise without being used completely. In turn, the body then has too much Melatonin and can produce similar signs of having too little Melatonin. In an attempt to help you determine if your Melatonin levels are off I have added a quick quiz for you to take.
Talk To Your Doctor
If your Melatonin levels are off please consult with your primary doctor prior to taking any medications. I would highly suggest talking with your doctor about holistic options to restore your Melatonin levels. Supplements, both natural and pharmaceutical, can be extremely addictive and should only be used as a last resort for a short period of time. Due to the fact that these supplements have a high probability of interacting with any medications you may be on it is important to discuss them prior to taking any with your primary doctor. At the end of the day any natural option you can try is best because it will be easier for your body to transition back to producing normal levels on its own.
Keep It Natural
Here is a recipe to help you balance out your Melatonin levels naturally. What we put into our bodies directly determines what we can get out of them. That is why it is so important that we take the time to ensure we are eating whole and nutrient dense foods. These cookies are sure to please everyone in your family.
Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Gluten-Free Vegan Makes 12 Cookies
- 4 Overly Ripe Bananas
- ½ Cup Vegan Dark Chocolate Chips
- 2 Cups Gluten-Free Oats
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
- ¼ Cup Chopped Walnuts
- ¼ Cup Dried Cherries
- 1 Cup Apple Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl mash bananas into paste. In a food processor blend oats for 1-2 seconds (do not turn into powder just breakup oats slightly). In bowl containing bananas add, vanilla, syrup, and applesauce. Mix well. After combined fold in oats followed by cherries, chocolate, and nuts. Place 1 Tbsp of cookie dough balls onto cookie sheet (use non stick option prior I like parchment paper). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. For added flavor I add 1 Tbsp of cacoa powder to the mix to enhance chocolate flavor.
Ready For a Change?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at DrDeeandMe@gmail.com or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!