GETTING MORE ZZZ's with 5-Methoxy-N-Acetyltryptamine (Aka. Melatonin)
Getting more Zzz’s
IMPROVING SLEEP QUALITY and REDUCING JET-LAG with 5-Methoxy-N-Acetyltryptamine (Aka. Melatonin) |
I never usually need to take supplements for jet lag but three times zones in two weeks was tough on my system and my sleep quality was certainly compromised. When I got to SF, my body-clock was so confused, I ended up training at the hotel the gym at 11.30pm at night just to tire myself out - ridiculous. Exercise didn’t help me sleep the way it usually does, so I turned to supplements - one in particular - Melatonin.
Taking a dose of Melatonin was a god-send 20 minutes before going to bed.
How does it work?
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by the body to help you sleep, has been so effective for me during this trip to Sydney and then SF (now about to head back to Sydney).
Natural Melatonin is usually triggered by the sun setting, so as it gets darker your body will help to prepare you for sleep. This is why eliminating artificial light (especially blue-light technology) and sleeping in darkness is so important.
Spending time in daylight is also important because your circadian rhythms (an ingrained biological clock that regulates sleeping and waking cycles) is designed to match your environment. So melatonin production is also dependant upon the lightness you experience - not just the darkness.
Now it’s not as simple as just ‘popping a pill’ because not only are Melatonin supplements varied in strength - chronic reliance on supplemented Melatonin is not ideal for the body - it can also worsen symptoms if you suffer from depression. It can effect your own receptors and therefore natural production. I personally only take it during heavy overseas trips like the one I’m currently on. I use it as a last resort and implement other natural ways to combat jet lag and/or sleep deprivation. Check out my tips below:
Hydration - You’ve heard it before but yes - here is yet another thing that hydration can support. Chronic Dehydration (and trust me, many many people are chronically dehydrated) can effect your own natural Melatonin production. Flying on planes are incredibly dehydrating (even the new ones that are less ‘dry’ can still have a dehydrating effect on your system). Make sure you’re drinking water throughout your flight and your day. A hydration powder with electrolytes is a good idea to ensure you’re not just ‘p**sing the night away’ (as the song goes).
Exercise Outdoors - Not only does the exercise help to use up extra energy you may have, being outdoors helps to reset your circadian rhythms to the current environment you are in. Exposure to the light will also support that Melatonin regulation.
Watch that Caffeine intake - It’s really tempting to fuel your brain on the wonderful effects of caffeine but chasing that ‘high’ will just prolong your ability to sleep later. When travelling across timezones I try my best to avoid drinking coffee past 2pm. I’d rather push through the tiredness and be able to sleep at night, than have that late cup, only to be wired and starring at the ceiling at 2am. Obviously this excludes Italian - y’all seem to be able to drink a pre-bed espresso with zero issue; I envy you.
Slow, inhales followed by an even slower exhalation - did you know that your exhalation triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (the side of your nervous system that’s in charge of sleep, rest, repair and digestion). By spending a bit of time breathing before you sleep, particularly extending and slowing down the exhalation, you can help to better prepare your mind (and CNS) for a great nights sleep.
Meditation. Look, I realise that sometimes meditation can seem like it’s counter-intuitive to relaxing the mind (as stillness of the body, also stimulates movement of the mind - thoughts go CRAY when we stop right?). However, there are specific types of meditation that really help to relax - and not just the esoteric or abstract concept of relaxation - but true physiologically and psychologically PROVEN relaxation. I use Vedic Meditation but it can be expensive to learn. Guided meditation (although differing in efficacy) can be really great ways to relax. Here is a link to one of my guided meditations.
I hope you’ve found this helpful in some way. Sleep deprivation really sucks on every level - mental, physical and even emotional. I’d love to hear below your favourite techniques for improving your sleep quality, particularly when jet lagged.