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
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.4 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.
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.
To help your body adjust to these changes, take the melatonin about 30 minutes prior to your intended bedtime to help train your body to a regular circadian rhythm.
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.
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
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. These products are dietary supplements and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The decision to use these products should be discussed with a trusted healthcare provider. The authors and the publisher of this work have made every effort to use sources believed to be reliable to provide information that is accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The authors and the publisher shall not be liable for any special, consequential, or exemplary damages resulting, in whole or in part, from the readers’ use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this article. The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third party Internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.