The coronavirus pandemic has made sleep difficult for many people, prompting some physicians to coin the resulting insomnia “COVID-somnia.” If you have tried lifestyle modifications and are still not getting restful sleep, it may be worth talking to your doctor about melatonin as a sleep aid.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues on, physicians are seeing more patients reporting anxiety (see our April post on the rise in anxiety and depression). A common symptom of anxiety can be insomnia, which can manifest as difficulty initiating or sustaining sleep or both. People are also getting less natural light exposure due to the shelter in place orders. This can in turn alter the body’s normal circadian rhythm, in effect “confusing the brain” into believing it’s not bedtime. Physicians recommend lifestyle modifications as a first-line treatment for insomnia, and these include:
1) decreasing synthetic light sources (IPhone, laptops, TV) at least two hours before bed,
2) keeping bedrooms only for sleep and cooler in temperature, and
3) trying things like a hot shower to relax before bed.

If these fail, melatonin is a safe and effective sleep aid that physicians can recommend people try.

Melatonin is different from most sleep aids in that it is actually produced naturally by the body by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland. The pineal gland becomes active when it gets dark and begins producing melatonin, which in turn signals to your body that it’s time for bed. It is generally regarded by sleep specialists as safe and non-habit forming as long as the dose is controlled and you can ensure the source you are getting it from is reputable. Dr. Bhanu Kolla, an associate professor of psychiatry, at the Mayo Clinic recommends 0.5mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bed for people who have a hard time sustaining sleep and 5mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bed for those with difficulty initiating sleep. Make sure to be on the lookout for the GLP (Good Labor Practice) or GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) seal to ensure the melatonin you are consuming is pure and not mainly fillers.

If this doesn’t work, it may be worth it to see a physician to examine other causes of insomnia.

Book a free initial consultation today and speak with one of our knowledgeable physicians. They can help you determine if your lack of sleep may be due to another cause.

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