Short Read

  • Disrupted sleep cycles can have negative impacts on your health
  • Sleep cycles can be disrupted by things like daylight savings, changing time zones, shift work, and more
  • Melatonin is produced naturally by your body to regulate your sleep and wake cycles
  • Supplementing with melatonin can help reset or maintain a desired sleep schedule to minimize sleep disturbances and related health consequences

Tell me More!

Daylight Savings Time is almost upon us, and on Sunday when our clocks “fall back” one hour, you might notice a disruption in your sleep and wake cycle called the circadian rhythm (“circa” = around; “dian” = day). The effect of the time change is like the “jet-lag” people experience when traveling on long flights that cross several time zones - only on a much smaller scale.

While adjusting to the different times, you may experience any number of unpleasant effects related to your disrupted circadian rhythm such as headaches, irritability, insomnia, day-time fatigue, and decreased immune function – all things you would likely prefer to avoid.1–3

Adjusting to the Change

It can take several days to naturally adjust to the time change, but eventually your body will reset the internal circadian clock and return to a regular sleep cycle. This “circadian reset” is accomplished by a hormone called melatonin.

Melatonin is produced in the brain by the pineal gland and it is controlled by light or darkness.When it is dark, the pineal gland secretes melatonin, letting your body know it’s time to sleep. When your eyes detect light, the pineal gland stops secreting melatonin and you begin to feel awake and alert.

Exposure to light or dark at inappropriate times in the sleep and wake cycle can disrupt melatonin production and the circadian rhythm, making it harder to adjust to changes.

Supplementing with Melatonin

Melatonin is commonly found in over-the-counter (OTC) supplements for promoting sleep and can be a useful tool to help restore a natural sleep cycle. This is especially helpful for people that are changing time zones, work overnight shifts, or even to help adjust to Daylight Saving Time.5,6

People that have trouble eliminating light from the room where they sleep produce less melatonin and could benefit from a melatonin supplement as well.

Proper Dosing of Melatonin

I admit - I used to be guilty of recommending the highest dose available of melatonin to my patients, but now I know much better. Too much melatonin can actually have counter-effects and contribute to more sleep problems and daytime drowsiness. It is best to start at a lower dose and slowly increase as needed based on your response.

I generally do not recommend using more than 2 mg of melatonin unless you are working with a sleep specialist that has determined it is appropriate and can monitor your response.

I also only recommend products that contain 1 mg or less of melatonin per capsule/tablet. That way if you do take one extra pill, you only increase by a small amount rather than jumping up into excessively high doses. It will be much easier and safer to find your dose by adjusting it 1 mg at a time as compared to 5 mg at a time.

Your Body Repairs Itself While You Sleep

When your sleep cycles are disrupted for even a couple days you will notice a quick decline in your overall health and well being. This is because while you are asleep, your cells are working to repair themselves from the stresses and natural wear and tear that happens throughout the day.

Without sleep, these restorative processes are interrupted. This can make people prone to a wide variety of health problems including psychiatric and mood disorders, headaches, decreased functional status, premature aging, inflammation, and even cancer.9–14

It is well known that one of the best things you can do for your overall health is to incorporate good sleep practices to minimize disruptions to your circadian rhythm and get adequate sleep every night.12,15,16

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Melatonin is helpful for resetting your clock during time changes and travel, but if you are needing to regularly use sleep aids you should first make sure you are using good sleep practices (called "sleep hygiene") to naturally promote better sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, and Better Health Channel list some of the following practices to improve your sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day aiming for 8-9 hours of sleep to establish a regular circadian rhythm
  • Limit the amount of light in the bedroom while sleeping, as even small amounts can disrupt melatonin production (no TV’s or computer screens!)
  • Try to only use your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy, avoiding other activities that can keep you awake such as watching TV or reading
  • Get daily physical activity, preferably in the morning or late afternoon, while avoiding strenuous physical activity or exercise in the hours before bedtime
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises prior to bedtime
  • Avoid stressful or emotional thoughts and conversations before bedtime (“don’t bring your problems to bed”)
  • Avoid using any stimulants within 6-8 hours of bedtime, including caffeine, energy drinks/supplements, nicotine, sugar and certain medications (remember some herbal teas and chocolate may contain varying levels of caffeine)
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime, especially spicy and greasy foods that might contribute to heartburn, or high carbohydrate foods that might provide excess energy
  • Make your bedroom as comfortable for sleep as possible with a slightly cool temperature (between 60-70° F), appropriate ventilation, darkness, quiet, and of course a quality mattress and quality pillows and bedding
  • Do not try and force sleep – if you are unable to sleep, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity like reading in another room until you are tired instead of laying in bed and watching the clock all night
  • Avoid drinking too many fluids before bedtime to avoid waking up to use the restroom, but also keep a glass of water at your bedside to avoid a trip to the faucet if you wake up thirsty or coughing

Avoid Prescription and Antihistamine-based Sleep Aids

It is best to avoid the use of prescription and antihistamine-based over-the-counter sleep aids as much as possible, especially long-term (more than 1-2 weeks). They have been associated with increased risk of neurological disorders including dementia and Alzheimer's disease. They can also be addictive and create a dependence while not actually supporting the deep REM sleep that you need.

Melatonin-based options may be a safer and more appropriate option for long-term use, but it is important to work with your healthcare providers to find what works best for you.

More Sleep Problems Come with Age

Melatonin production decreases as you age and this is one reason people tend to experience more sleep problems later in life.7,8 Most OTC and prescription medications carry strong warnings for use in people over age 65, especially for more than 2 weeks at a time, so melatonin may be a safer and more appropriate choice.

Pinnaclife Sleep Support

Pinnaclife Sleep Support was created using a safe and effective 2 mg dose of melatonin to help restore and maintain a natural circadian rhythm. The addition of magnesium and curcumin helps to promote relaxation and restful sleep in a safe and natural way.17–19

The addition of Olivamine 10® Max provides the restorative antioxidant support that your cells need to help recharge and revitalize your body while you sleep. You can also incorporate Pinnaclife Energy Support during the daytime to help safely combat fatigue following a night of disrupted sleep.

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  • Kyle Hilsabeck, PharmD., is the Vice President of Pharmaceutical Affairs at McCord Holdings and licensed by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.  He completed bachelors degrees in biology and biochemistry at Wartburg College before earning his Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, he completed a community pharmacy practice residency through the University of Iowa where he focused primarily on nutritional aspects of care including the use of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements.  He has taught courses for the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy on vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutritional supplements and given many presentations on the subject as well.  He has a passion for improving patient care specifically with regards to the safety and quality of the nutritional supplements and health information people use.


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