Since we're now savvy enough to know that quality over quantity is key when it comes to sleep (thanks, Dr. Tiffany Lester!), we should also know how to enhance that sleep. Yes, creating a pre-bed ritual is important, but what if you need a little nudge in the sweet-dreams direction?
The natural hormone melatonin can be a helpful tool for getting your best sleep. In today's world, everyone from the corporate girlboss to the stay-at-home mom encounters stressors that can contribute to bad sleep. Staring at the light of a computer screen all day, or having to get kids up and out the door for school can impact what happens when you lay your pretty head down on that pillow at night.
Even though our bodies produce melatonin on their own, occasionally we need a little extra to coax us into a healthy sleep cycle. That's partially because of how our modern rhythms impact how our melatonin is produced. We're wired to get a boost of melatonin when the sun sets and the evening gets darker. That used to mean we were headed to bed (you know, pre-electricity and stuff). And the first light of the morning is a trigger for our bodies to quit spitting out melatonin, and get our butts out of bed (you know, to do early-morning chores and stuff).
Instead, we're keeping our eyes locked on bright screens well into the evening, and we're rising before the sun even hits the sky—especially as the days get shorter and we enter into fall and winter.
That equation doesn't support the best melatonin production. So, adding in a little before bed can be part of a good nighttime routine for better sleep. It's definitely not a substitute for shutting off those devices or slowing your mind down pre-bed, but it can be a natural aid to promoting those zzzzzzzs—and preventing the repeated counting of sheep.