How to Increase Natural Melatonin

by Dr. Kilcup | Aug 12, 2016 | Articles, Cancer, Home Therapy, Hormone Imbalances, Insomnia

The most natural melatonin is the kind your body makes. Melatonin is a hormone your body makes to help your body relax and sleep. Low melatonin has been to linked to all kinds of bad things like dementia, mood disorders, severe pain, cancer, diabetes type 2depressionhypertension, and insomnia.1 Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to get our bodies to make more natural melatonin? Well guess what, I found a way, or I guess I should say this little gem found me!

Natural Melatonin Dilemma: Unexpected Challenges in Treating Insomnia

You see, I have a patient who was having a terrible time with insomnia. In general she would have more trouble in the summer months than the winter. Through functional medicine testing we discovered that her melatonin levels were very low overall, and even worse, her highest melatonin levels were in the morning and her lowest levels were at night. This is the reverse of what we want. Based on the test results I prescribed very low dose of melatonin at bedtime. To my shock, the patient reported that the melatonin didn’t help her get to sleep, and in fact it seemed to make her more alert and sort of crazy. Stumped, I obviously agreed with my patient that she should stop the melatonin.

Natural Melatonin
2

Here’s the good part–we discovered the problem. It turns out that my patient avoids going outside in the summertime. Who can blame her? We live in Phoenix, Arizona. There are times when the overnight low temperature is still over 100 degrees. Additionally, it turns out that my patient blacks out most of the windows in her house to further keep cool. It was her husband who wondered if this indoor summer hibernation could cause the weird melatonin levels. You can imagine my epic facepalm. YES! I very astutely recommended that my patient get outside in the sun as much as possible.

Guess what. It worked!

The Proof is in the Studies

Then I came across a fascinating study on sunlight and nighttime natural melatonin production 3 Researchers studied 192 people with the average age around 70, and found that 30 minutes to two hours of  sunlight exposure increased nighttime melatonin by 13%. That’s natural melatonin!

On the flip side, reducing your exposure to light in the evening, especially blue light from sources like computer screens, phones, TV, and fluorescent and LED bulbs, will help boost your melatonin levels as well. Any light can reduce the production of natural melatonin, but studies 4 have shown that blue light suppresses melatonin production much more so than light of other wavelengths.

This may seem like an impossible proposal in this age of artificial light and electronic devices, but there are things that will help. Choose light bulbs that are tinted to produce a warmer light, more like the old incandescent bulbs, and use less and dimmer lights in the evening. Blue light blocking glasses 5 can be worn in the evenings while watching tv or using computers or cell phones. There is also a free computer program called f.lux 6 that will automatically change the color tint of your screen according to the time of day to decrease blue light in the evening hours.

Get Started Today!

If you’re struggling with insomnia and you don’t get outside much this might be for you too! If you or a loved one are suffering with a condition linked to low melatonin (dementia, mood disorders, severe pain, cancer, diabetes type 2 and insomnia) and want to see if your melatonin levels are ok, get your melatonin tested! The best testing is going to measure levels at three times during the day (saliva samples). That way in addition to overall levels of melatonin, you can see if levels are following the right pattern of low in the morning and high at bedtime. You can ask your doctor if he/she can test it, but chances are you’re going to need a Functional Medicine doc who knows about this kind of testing.  Regardless of where you live, I can help. Schedule a “Get Acquainted” visit today and find out!

Show 6 Footnotes
  1. Neurobiology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Melatonin Deficiency and Dysfunction Rüdiger Hardel and Scientific World Journal. 2012; 2012: 640389
  2. Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  3. K Obayashi, K Saeki, J Iwamoto, N Okamoto, K Tomioka, S Nezu, Y Ikada, N Kurumatani. Positive effect of daylight exposure on nocturnal urinary melatonin excretion in the elderly: a cross-sectional analysis of the HEIJO-KYO study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Nov;97(11):4166-73.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21164152 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21415172https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25287985
  6. https://justgetflux.com/

Darrell Kilcup, DC, CFMP

Hi there! I’m Dr. Kilcup. You know that health problem you’ve been dealing with – the one that doctors can’t seem to solve, that’s stealing way too much of your time, energy and joy? I can help you get to the bottom that. I am passionate about using the best of science and nutrition to find and fix root causes of health issues. Start your journey towards healing and relief today.

Ways We Can Work Together

location

MY OFFICE

phone

PHONE/SKYPE

cfmp
All Reviews 5.0google logoGoogle 5.0
Overall Rating
5.0 4 reviews
I have been using the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the last few weeks and It has helped me so much. I struggle quite a bit with work related stress. When I'm in the chamber I feel completely relaxed, so much so that I can bring my laptop inside and work without stressing. The calmness I feel in the chamber lasts for the remainder of the day as well. I have found too, the more consistent I am with sessions throughout the week the better I feel. The office staff seems well trained in running the tanks too, so I feel safe. I see Dr. Kilcup as well for my brain and gut health. Until now, I don't think I've ever known what "normal" or "healthy" feels like. Thank you all, sincerely!
read more
Mike Kutz Avatar
Mike Kutz
6 months ago
Dr. Kilcup is a pleasure to work with. His office is beautiful! I can’t wait to try his hyperbaric chambers!
read more
Sarina Gomez Avatar
Sarina Gomez
9 months ago
Darrell is highly knowledgeable and really gets to the root of the problem. Unlike a lot of doctors, Darrell doesn't just throw prescriptions at issues. He will test and test - digging for the cause and then working on fixing the issue. He and his staff are professional, courteous, and a joy to be around.
read more
Kevin Miller Avatar
Kevin Miller
1 year ago
I am very grateful to have found Dr. Kilcup and be his patient for the last couple of years. He has helped me restore my health back after being exposed to toxic mold for years. He helped identify and treat all of my symptoms I was experiencing and address the root problem. I was looking for the right person who could help me heal with natural therapies and supplements and Dr. Kilcup was the perfect fit. Every appointment and session was necessary and one step towards all the progress I made. Dr. Kilcup is a great functional medicine doctor who was also an advocate for my own health and well-being. I never received any care or attention to detail from other Doctors in past experiences except with Dr. Kilcup. Anyone who is seeking a holistic path towards healing or improving their own health should see him.
read more
Ciara Wakley Avatar
Ciara Wakley
1 year ago