Sleep is the newest obsession. I mean, why not? It’s a literal human NECESSITY to sleep. It’s simple – if we don’t sleep, we can die. Sleep deprivation = death.
K, maybe not that literally, but there have been studies shown that lack of sleep is SO terrible for your body.
WebMD gives the top 10 surprising effects of sleep loss:
- Sleep deprivation can cause accidents. Driving fatigued and over-tired is very comparable to driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol.
- Sleep loss plays a critical role in thinking and learning.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems…including (but not limited to): heart failure, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Lack of sleep kills your sex drive
- Sleepiness is depressing…lack of sleep can have depressive effects on your mental state.
- Ages your skin.
- Makes you forgetful
- Weight Gain
- Increase risk of death (through disease)
- Impairs judgement
Here is the full article here. Worth the read.
Author Satchin Panda wrote a book called: The Circadian Code, which outlines the biological necessity that sleep plays in our bodies. As adults, we should be getting at least 7 hours of consolidated sleep every night. Any less than 7 hours, and we are starting to rack up our sleep debt. Babies and children have higher sleep needs, therefore children under the age of 5 require a full 12 hours at night, and even some naps throughout the day too. School aged children should be getting 8-11 hours of sleep a night.
Is this happening in your home?
So we know sleep is important, but how do we do it? How do we just fall asleep and get those 7 hours?
Well – I wish it was a simple “how-to” answer.
When working with clients, I have them start by filling out a questionnaire. This helps me really evaluate the current sleep situation they are in, and if there are any tips/pointers I can give right away. Most commonly, I see the use of Melatonin in both children and adults. I have actually seen people give their children under 2 a dose of melatonin.
This feels scary and alarming to me.
Why are we supplementing a child with a hormone their body naturally produces?
Let’s dive right in to WHAT melatonin really is and what does it do for our bodies?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland. This hormone helps regulate the sleep – wake cycle in our bodies. As a supplement, it can be used to treat jet lag or help shift workers adjust to their schedules. It should not be taken as a daily supplement to your routine. In Canada and the US, Melatonin can be purchased over the counter, but in Australia and Europe, you must be over the age of 54 and have a history of sleeping problems in order to purchase.
Human melatonin production decreases as we age, but having a complete melatonin deficiency is very rare.
Melatonin is not categorized as a drug, it is in the same category as vitamins and minerals. It does not require the same FDA approval as other medication. Synthetic melatonin can be produced in factories that are not regulated by the FDA. This means that although the dose on the bottle reads anywhere from 1-5mg of melatonin, each capsule could contain a varying amount of the intended dosage.
There has not be adequate research data proving the effectiveness of melatonin. When compared with a placebo, most studies show no benefit of melatonin. The National Sleep Foundation said: “Large studies are needed to demonstrate if melatonin is effective and safe for some forms of insomnia, particularly for long-term use. It may be true that melatonin is effective and safe for some types of insomnia and for children but not for other types of sleep problems. How much to take, when to take it and its effectiveness, if any, for particular disorders is only beginning to be understood.”
On the bottle of melatonin, it says “discontinue use after 4 weeks.”
So why are we using melatonin as a way to get to sleep?
Did you KNOW that the number 1 prescribed medication in America is SLEEPING PILLS?
Did you KNOW that exposure to sunlight can be WAY more effective in regulating our circadian rhythm than taking a melatonin supplement? Regular physical activity can also have huge impact on our ability to fall asleep at night as well.
How often are you looking at a screen? Are you watching TV while in bed? What about checking Facebook while under the covers? How about checking one last Instagram story or reading one last email before finally closing your eyes.
These are all MAJOR factors in balancing our sleep.
Instead of popping a melatonin and then watching a movie, how about you dedicate 1 hour to a bedtime routine that is “screen-free” and relaxing. I bet you’d find there are huge benefits to doing this simple act of self-care.
As for your children – do you think that melatonin should be a daily supplement and that the reason your child doesn’t sleep well is actually because they’re deficient in melatonin production? NO. There are SO many varying methods on how to get children to fall asleep and stay asleep that require no supplements or medication.
Teaching your child healthy sleep habits isn’t selfish – it is a gift that keeps on giving. A baby who sleeps well will become a toddler who sleeps well….a child…then a teenager….and finally an adult who sleeps well.
It isn’t too late to teach you or your child these healthy habits. I provide a completely holistic approach to sleep. One that relies heavily on routine and consistency.
Reach out & I can absolutely get you on track to be a great, healthy sleeper.