Most people have heard of Melatonin.
If they haven’t, they find out about it when they’re at their GP complaining of not being able to sleep, and the GP writes a script for synthetic melatonin, to help promote sleep.
But sleep promotion is not all that Melatonin does.
Before I dive into it…
The people that know me, know that I’m a bit of a “biohacker” – which means I’m always looking for (natural) ways of improving my physical and mental capacity.
Consequently, I feel YOUNG, and very rarely get sick (touch wood ha!), I recover from (hard) exercise super easily, and have a LOT of energy – which is how I think everyone should feel…
How is this possible?
Do I take drugs?
No way! It’s way simpler (and way healthier) than that.
What I do is prioritise sleep.
What does this mean? Do I just get MORE sleep?
In fact (this might sound familiar) more sleep makes me feel worse!
What I do is everything I possibly can to IMPROVE my sleep situation, sleep regularity and both natural and synthetic light exposure.
The reality is – most people sit inside looking at screens. On phones, massive bright TV’s, and computers. For hours and hours every single day.
It’s not just me saying this… there is a lot of new research coming out about the effects of light exposure… Even if that light doesn’t hit your eyes.
Prolonged exposure to blue light, such as that which emanates from your phone, computer and household fixtures, could be affecting your longevity, even if it’s not shining in your eyes.Oregon State University, October 17, 2019
What you’ve got to understand is that for a huge amount of your day (and children now too) you’re looking at a screen, or sitting under a consistent LED light source.
Everyone knows this.
But what people often don’t consider is this:
All this extra light is synthetic.
i.e. It’s not natural.
We’re (literally) not designed to see this synthetic light. Kind of like synthetic “food”. It’s not from NATURE.
Sure we CAN see this light (and do), but, if you took yourself out of your house, away from the ability to charge your phone, tell me exactly what you’d see in the form of light?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s exactly what you’d see:
And that’s it.
But you NEED blue light – Just the natural version.
It’s so important, that you literally become depressed without blue light. It helps your body make another hormone – Serotonin (the feel good hormone).
Well, no surprises then, that many of our bodies hormonal systems are triggered by sunlight and darkness, and they’re triggered by the time of day that we see that light.
Unfortunately – the brain can’t tell the time of day other than DARK and LIGHT… Because wind back a few hundred years, we had no NEED to know the “time”.
So, our brain relies on seeing sunlight, to trigger certain hormones to wake you up. Make you sleep, kick start your metabolism.
Of course, it is so much more complex than this.
And that’s where our friend Melatonin comes into it.
Most people think that melatonin is simply a SLEEP hormone. But, it’s not.
Well, actually it is a sleep hormone… however, most people don’t realise it’s a crucial super strong anti-oxidant for your entire body.
Here are just a handful of thousands of research papers on this:
- Melatonin vs classic antioxidants
- One molecule, many derivatives
- Melatonin accepts and donates electrons
If you’re not sure, Anti-oxidants are the things that HELP YOU – they help your body deal with all the “free radicals” that are made inside you (and you make a LOT every single second of every day).
Even your own mitochondria – the cells that create your energy – are pumping out free radicals all day long.
If you’re tired, not recovering, getting sick, feeling lethargic, you’ve quite possibly got a melatonin and mitochondrial issue.
To really try to “fix” sleep, you first have to educate yourself.
“How can I improve sleep?”
What you’ll find is the SAME INFORMATION out there, with a great deal of science and validity.
Here’s a run down of what articles say in order to help sleep:
- Create a pattern in your sleep cycle – to rise early
- Don’t eat a huge meal within 2-3hrs before sleep
- Eliminate blue light exposure within 2-3hrs of sleep
- See the sunrise, and sunset
- Have natural light after dark – like fire/flames
- If you can’t do 5) above, block the blue light with glasses or screen colour modification apps
- Don’t drink alcohol before bed
- Don’t drink stimulants with caffeine after midday
- Try to limit/modify your stress levels
- Exercise moderately
The thing is – most people won’t do the above.
I personally do most of the above, but obviously can’t be “perfect” in all areas.
One thing I consistently do though is block blue light at night with these glasses:
But… I you NOT wear these in the daytime, and you do NOT need to wear these when you’re in nature, ever.
But like you, unfortunately most of my life isn’t in nature.
You can’t just wear glasses like this and think that’s enough.
So what’s the benefit of getting better sleep?
It’s really interesting actually.
I did this 3 month experiment where I prioritised sleep using the ideas in the list above. I did it while tracking my sleep patterns, and level of deep sleep.
I managed to consistently raise my deep sleep amount from 1 hr a night to 2hrs 20mins on average.
Of course – this isn’t truly “Scientific” – but the only thing I could really measure.
Other than the 18kg of weight/fat loss.
I lost so much weight, I went to my GP to run bloods (negative thankfully).
Now, I can’t attribute this weight loss to wearing blue light blocking glasses.
But I can tell you, my diet was no different. I didn’t do anything fancy. In fact it was probably worse! Same with exercise. My exercise decreased.
But what happened is my APPETITE changed. But I didn’t realise it, other than I was eating less.
So I did some research.
Sure enough, blocking blue light after dark and seeing morning sunrises changes your leptin and ghrelin (hunger) hormones.
So does making sure you get quality sleep. It affects your fat metabolism.
The only way to really explain it, is that over time, my melatonin levels must have been higher, for longer, and the effect that gave me was:
- Better sleep
- More ability to donate electrons to recycle other antioxidants and decrease oxidative stress in my system
- Dropped cortisol levels
- Improved gut/abdominal tension/bloating
- Weight/fat loss
- Just feeling so much more energy
And in case you’re wondering – do I take any supplements – the answer is yes, I only take fulvic/humic minerals, and collagen with vitamin C.
Not a cocktail of things.
But what if you’re a shift worker?
Shift workers are among the most important people in the workforce.
Our lives literally couldn’t be the same without them.
The midwife who safely delivers your baby at 3am. The Firefighter who attends a car accident at 1am. The Police officer helping keep law and order.
Obviously you have more of a challenge in regulating your sleep patterns.
There is some evidence to suggest that if your circadian rhythm is off by only 2 hours, your internal body clock could be out by 12 hours!
A common symptom amongst shift workers is abdominal bloating, flatulence and even constipation or diarrhoea.
If your system is thinking it should be digesting at certain times, but can’t, there’s a possible link between less digestion and the symptoms you get.
But obviously increasing melatonin at night when you’re supposed to be “awake” is out of the question – as you’ll be falling asleep.
What possible solutions are there?
This article could be a helpful one for you!
Hey – I’m “only” an Osteopath – who happens to have additional degrees in both biochemistry and physiology – I’m no Neurosurgeon, unlike this guy: Dr. Jack Kruse who consistently delivers amazing information on what I’ve written about here.
Although – to read it, often you have to put your thinking cap on a bit more!
If you’re interested, here’s more information on Melatonin.