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Why Total Darkness & Melatonin Improve Sleep & Health


If you are struggling to sleep at night, and you're yawning through the day, you may want to pay close attention to this piece of critical health news. Sleep is believed to fight cancer, diabetes and weight gain, but it needs to be done in total darkness.

Easyhealthoptions explains this need for total darkness. Melatonin is produced primarily by the pineal gland in the brain which helps regulate the relationship with light and darkness, day and night. When it gets dark, our bodies began producing melatonin as the first step to sleep.

Melatonin is the reset button for our body’s internal clock, which impacts everything from the health of cells to mental sharpness. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulator and master repair hormone that can kill cancer cells.

As darkness shows up, melatonin levels climb and we feel drowsy. For many people who work long hours or even two jobs, they fight this reaction with caffeinated drinks, evening activities or drugs. In some cases they are playing roulette with their health.

Daytime naps or long weekends sleeping do not counteract the effect of lost sleep because light inhibits the production of melatonin. Breaking the natural cycle can lead to weight gain, heart problems and cancer. Some research shows female shift workers have a 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer. So what should we be doing?

Consider melatonin supplements under a doctor’s care

Pregnant women should note that melatonin regulates female reproductive hormones. With a doctor’s approval, melatonin supplements can help people who fight insomnia, travel a lot and fight jet lag or night shift workers who have to sleep in the daytime.

Choose some good melatonin food sources

Pineapples, bananas, oranges, oats, corn, barley and tomatoes can all up increase melatonin levels.

Create the darkness needed for melatonin

By keeping the same sleeping hours every evening, and creating a totally dark sleeping room you can make a big difference. Investing in blackout drapes could be worth the cost and effort. Putting dimmers on bedroom lights and using dark colors can help too.

Skip lots of screen activity right before bed. Cover those blue lights on phones, screens, and rechargeable toothbrushes which all suppress melatonin. Consider eating some of the melatonin foods like bananas or pineapple as a bedtime snack.

Whatever you can do to restore the natural rhythm of winding down at the end of the day as darkness descends, the better your chances of healthy rest and long term good health will be.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Climate Change Research Centre

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