Midweek Mental Greening

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying melatonin as a sleep aid – not every night, mind you, but here and there.

You probably have a working knowledge of melatonin. It’s the hormone your brain’s pineal gland produces at night, when it’s dark and your body needs rest. Thus, melatonin helps your body know the difference between day and night and lends a hand with your circadian timing and sleep cycles.

Though it may not be the most environmentally green sleep aid around (your body produces it naturally but, hey, if you’re taking it orally, that means someone else is manufacturing, bottling, and selling it and it’s no longer natural – it’s synthetic) melatonin definitely seems preferable to traditional prescription and other over-the-counter sleep aids as far as greening your mind and body are concerned.

The fewer chemicals we can get away with the better, in my opinion.

The Mayo Clinic graded melatonin’s effectiveness with an “A” for jet lag, and a “B” for delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), insomnia in elderly people, sleep disturbances in children with neuro-psychiatric disorders, and sleep enhancement for people who are normally pretty healthy.

My own personal experience? I love it. The directions for the melatonin strips I purchased recommended taking the strips immediately before bedtime; however, I usually took them about a half an hour before hitting the sheets. Fortunately, my rebellious behavior didn’t seem to affect the success of the melatonin – each night I used the strips, I fell asleep more easily and slept through the entire night.

That’s a pretty big deal for me.

The Mayo Clinic also provides information about dosing and safety – as do numerous other resources like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) – but as always it’s best to clear it with your doctor before trying anything new. As far as I know, the FDA does not regulate melatonin production, so you should definitely discuss the amount you take – and how long you take it – with a medical professional.

So, what about you? Do you have any experiences – good or bad – with using melatonin as a sleep aid?