Relationship advice for Melatonin and the Night Shifter
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal 24 hour “clock” that plays a huge role in when we go to sleep and when we wake up.
Here are some quick facts about Melatonin:
- Melatonin levels are higher or released more in the dark or at night
- Melatonin levels are lower or released less in the light or daytime
- Helps with deeper sleep
- Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones and the timing of the menstrual cycle
- Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects and in some observations is thought that it may boost the immune system
So as you can see our bodies are very dependent on the light and dark exposure in order to release melatonin and other hormones. You may wonder how to account for this problem as a night shift worker. After all, when it is dark out is the time that the shift begins and it ends when it is light out. So if the body and the brain depends on this light dark cycle how can the bodies of night shifters adapt?
Let’s look at the fact that we do have some control over our environment. What I mean by this is that the sleep area can be modified and constructed to simulate dark exposure. The same is true for the light exposure that we night workers experience when we leave work, that too can be mitigated.
Here are some ways to trick your body into releasing Melatonin when working nights:
- Create a sleep space that has black out curtains, thick shades, or foil sealed windows to simulate dark exposure
- Make the sleep space cool and sound proof (ear plug or sensory noise blocking headphones work well especially since most people don’t have a sound proof room built into their homes)
- Wearing a sleep mask to create dark over the eyes works well
- Use a Sun lamp. Stand by the lamp and soak up the light for about 10-15 minutes just before going into work to allow for the reduction in melatonin production at night
- Work in a brightly lit environment if you can – this simulates the light cycle
- When leaving work and driving home in the bright sunlight try wearing Amber tinted glasses (these filter out the blue wavelengths of light and in turn help suppress melatonin release). You can get Amber tinted glasses here or here
Be strong. Be brave. Unleash your greatness!
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