• Neha Ghosh

Ditch The Melatonin — Is Meditation Before Bed The Key? 

Few, very few things in life are as frustrating as lying in bed, unable to sleep. But is Melatonin supplement the only way out?

Melatonin supplements are fairly popular these days and the majority of the sleep-deprived population, swear by its benefits. But if you are also thinking about jumping on the melatonin for sleep bandwagon, then it's better to understand exactly how it works and also to get acquainted with a more suitable alternative. 

So How Does It Work?

First of all, your body produces melatonin naturally and is also known as the ‘sleep hormone’. Secondly, melatonin itself doesn’t make you sleep but as melatonin levels escalate in the evening it puts you into a state of sleepiness that helps support sleep.

It's essential to note that your body produces sufficient amounts of melatonin for sleep on its own. That's why a supplement is only advised for a short term cure especially if you are jet-lagged, suffering from temporary chronic insomnia, or work night shifts.

But Melatonin also has its side effects such as:
  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Drowsiness

Also, as an external drug, it is not advised for people with depression, autoimmune disorders, breastfeeding women or those who are on contraceptives. But Melatonin supplement is not the only promise for a restful night's sleep, there's another important key. 

This Is Where Meditation Comes In 

The relationship between melatonin and meditation was first researched in 1995 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center's Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. Since melatonin is generated primarily at night, overnight urine samples were examined for 6- sulphatoxymelatonin, a melatonin categorization product thought to be an authentic representation of blood melatonin levels. Researchers found that women who meditated had higher levels of melatonin compared with women who did not. 

Another study found that meditation before bedtime increased melatonin levels for that night and remains the same for those participators who didn't meditate. This implies that a daily practice of meditation is necessary for a good night's sleep. 

Since sleep-related issues usually stem from stress and worry and that's why meditating before sleeping is the easiest way to relax the brain. It also better manages your autonomic nervous system, which ensures that you are not easily awakened. 

Meditation also:
  • Increases melatonin 

  • Boosts serotonin 

  • Reduces heart rate

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Stimulates parts of the brain that control sleep

How To Meditate Before Sleeping 

You can meditate anytime and you also don’t need any special tools or a lot of time. On most days, 5 min of meditation before bed is sufficient to put you into a relaxed state. 

Here are a few simple steps which will get you started.
  1. Find a quiet and comfortable spot.

  2. Sit with your legs crossed or lie down. Do what feels comfortable.

  3. Close your eyes and gently focus on your breath. 

  4. Every time your mind gets distracted, without any judgement or criticism, bring the attention back to your breath. 

In the beginning, meditation for sleep may seem challenging as your mind will constantly wander. Be patient with yourself and start small— 3 to 5 minutes before bed is enough. Once you get more relaxed, extend the time to 10 to 20 minutes.

Takeaway 

If you find it challenging to fall asleep at night, then you are not alone. But instead of Melatonin supplements, give meditation a fair shot because its gains outshine any artificial and short-term solutions. Headspace and Calm are great options for beginners in the US. In India, Dozee is one such app that offers authentic traditional guided meditations like Yoga Nidra, Sound Meditation with Tibetan Singing Bowls, breathing techniques for relaxation, and more.

About the author: Neha Ghosh is a health and wellness author and blogger, yoga trainer, certified diet and nutrition therapist and a hobbyist cookbook writer. During these days she maintains her sanity by meditating, eating vegan avoiding the news and watching dog videos on loop. You can check out her blog at https://putthatcheeseburgerdown.com

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