As we age, our melatonin levels can drop, interfering with sleep and general health and wellness. But smart supplementation, with the right dose, can help you connect to natural circadian rhythms, immunity, and healthier aging.
The Importance of Sleeping Well as You Age
For many of us, the last year has been one of suspect sleep. You might have spent too much time online before bed, or were simply anxious about what was to come. Or maybe you turned a year older and your stress or bad habits were compounded by a natural decline in melatonin—a molecule we produce less of as we age.
Here, your guide for restoring melatonin, getting in sync with natural cycles, boosting immunity, and sleeping better, especially as you grow older (and wiser).
Baby boomers are finally coming of age. In the next 25 years, the number of people older than 65 in the United States will double to 72 million, and by 2030, 1 in every 5 adults will be older than 65. While the senior years should be golden ones, up to 70% of the senior population has trouble falling and staying asleep. Sadly, poor sleep is linked to a host of emotional and physical health concerns, from mood, cognitive function, and cardiovascular risk to a shortened lifespan.10
Numerous studies have investigated the cause of age-related sleep issues and linked them to circadian imbalances. Melatonin, which regulates your circadian clock, declines with age. This decline can cause poor sleep and numerous age-related health concerns.1-9 After 50, and after menopause for women, the natural decline in melatonin production begins to accelerate the aging process.4
Melatonin and Longevity Science
Decades of research has been done on melatonin to evaluate its ability to support healthy aging and longevity. Here are some of the research highlights:
- Melatonin is a potent free radical scavenger and may help counter a natural loss of antioxidant protection in the elderly that can accelerate aging and degeneration.1
- Melatonin can improve sleep and related health concerns.1
- It supports healthy cognitive function with age.2
- As well as healthy blood sugar levels.2
- Melatonin supports age-related cardiovascular health.2
- It also maintains healthy hormonal and metabolic function with age.2
- Melatonin is an anti-stress agent that supports healthy aging.2
- It can also improve mood and ease occasional anxiety.2
- It supports healthy organ function.3
- Melatonin protects against exposure to everyday toxic substances.3
- And it support healthy cellular replication.3
- As well as healthy function of the skin–internally (gut and lungs) and externally (complexion).3
- Melatonin was shown to extend the lifespan of fruits flies by 33%.9
- It stimulates the production of natural killer cells and supports innate and humoral immunity, an integral part of aging.1,5
- Melatonin also protects bone density and supports bones in menopausal women.6,7
- And it supports a healthy and natural inflammation response.8
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Success with Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is often misrepresented as a sleep hormone and pigeonholed into being a supplement that addresses just jet lag-induced sleep imbalances and insomnia. But according to melatonin researchers Paula Witt Enterby and Russel Reiter, melatonin is actually not a hormone. Instead, it is a three billion-year-old molecule that connects all living beings to the light and dark circadian cycles of nature. Taking a hormone supplement will suppress the body’s natural production of that hormone. Melatonin, on the other hand, actually encourages the natural production of melatonin and is therefore not officially a hormone, although it has numerous hormonal functions.12
In my practice, I use melatonin in four ways:
- To support the aging process in patients older than 50, I suggest LifeSpa Low Dose Melatonin, a short-term aid for resetting your circadian clock.
- To reset clients’ circadian clocks at any age, I suggest Low Dose Melatonin.
- To resolve jet lag, I suggest LifeSpa’s Melatonin HP—with a biphasic delivery system that releases melatonin quickly and then steadily— during and after travel.
- To address other specific health imbalances, Melatonin HP may be helpful.
Melatonin supplementation can be a natural way to slow natural age-related degeneration. In a study published in Experimental Gerontology, fruit flies, which surprisingly are used to mimic human physiology, were supplemented with melatonin. The fruit flies increased their lifespan by 33% compared to the control group that did not take melatonin.9
A 1987 landmark study, published by Dr. Roman Rozencwaig, an expert on aging and melatonin, linked age-related diseases to the age-related failure of the pineal gland’s production of melatonin.12 Ten years later, two best-selling books re-invigorated the conversation on longevity and melatonin:
- Melatonin by the world’s top melatonin researcher, Russel Reiter
- The Melatonin and Aging Sourcebook by Roman Rozencwaig
Can Too Much Melatonin Disturb Sleep?
Many try supplementing with melatonin at high doses to address their sleep issues, and while this might work initially, it stops working over time. In an attempt to chase the benefits, many keep increasing the dose they are taking, to levels as high as 20 mg a day.
Since melatonin supplementation increases natural melatonin production, excess supplementation can have a paradoxical effect and actually make sleep more difficult.13,14 Finding the correct individual dose of melatonin is the key to successful supplementation.
When melatonin supplementation stops working, consider taking less, not more!
Studies on low-dose melatonin have shown that .5 mg were just as effective as 5 mgs for healthy sleep cycles.15 Other studies have shown that .3 mg of support promotes sleep as well as 1 mg.16 At higher doses, melatonin can stop working, but once the dose is significantly reduced to 1 mg, .5 mg, or even as low a .1 mg, sleep benefits can be restored.
For hacking the aging process, resetting your biological clock, and resolving sleep issues, start with a small dose of melatonin and slowly increase to attain the desired effect.
Suggested Dosage for LifeSpa’s Low-Dose Melatonin
Here is my suggestion for trying LifeSpa’s Low-Dose Melatonin: (1 drop = .1 mg)
1 drop before bed for 5 nights
2 drops before bed for 5 nights
3 drops before bed for 5 nights
Continue to increase by 1 drop every 5 nights until a maximum dose of 30 drops or 3 mg.
Once you reach the desired dose, and are able to fall and stay asleep comfortably, stay on that dose.
If that dose starts to not support healthy sleep cycles, try taking less. If you are at a higher dose, try starting near the beginning again with four drops before bed.
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Suggested Dosage for LifeSpa’s Melatonin HP
LifeSpa’s Melatonin HP time-release tablets should be considered when Low-Dose Melatonin is insufficient or when you’re addressing additional concerns related to your heart health, immunity, bones, breasts, gut, mood, hormones, cognitive health, and much more. Within the first hour, 1 mg of melatonin from the Melatonin HP tablet is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping to initiate sleep. The time-released melatonin, in the core of the tablet, is then slowly absorbed over the next six hours to help you maintain sleep and optimal melatonin levels. Most over-the-counter time-release melatonin caps work over eight hours and commonly cause morning drowsiness. Melatonin HP delivers a steady dose of 3 mg throughout the night—the dose used in most research studies.
I recommend taking 1 LifeSpa Melatonin HP capsule 45 minutes before bed.
A Holistic Approach
There are normal changes to sleep architecture throughout your lifespan. There is not, however, a decreased need for sleep and sleep disturbance is not an inherent part of the aging process. Sleep disturbance is common in older adults because aging is associated with an increasing prevalence of multi-morbidity, polypharmacy, psychosocial factors affecting sleep, and certain primary sleep disorders. It is also associated with morbidity and mortality. Since many older adults will have several factors from different domains affecting their sleep, these complaints are best approached as a multifactorial geriatric health condition, necessitating a multifaceted treatment approach.
In my new 7-week online course with the Shift Network—Ayurvedic Wisdom & Modern Science for Living a Long, Healthy, Conscious Life—I will share Ayurveda’s approach to shifting physical and emotional patterns that can lead to weak digestion, shallow breathing, poor sleep, chronic pain, and degenerative disease—all obstacles to graceful aging and longevity.
To learn more, tune in on Wednesday, January 27, for a free preview of the course. You can sign up here.