Melatonin, the hormone our bodies release naturally, can be artificially administered to achieve better quality sleep, even in uncomfortable situations. Scientists have been able to confirm that people slept better despite activity around them.
If you are struggling to get a good night's sleep while lights flash around you or different sounds keep buzzing, then taking just 1mg of melatonin will help you filter out the annoyances. A new study has shown that just a tiny amount of the hormone melatonin helped people get more - and better quality - sleep in noisy and light environments. The results were far better compared to using ear plugs and an eye mask.
The research was intentionally carried out with healthy patients who did not suffer from insomnia probably because the primary aim of the study was to help patients in hospitals get the much-needed and complete rest, even if they are surrounded by activity that is enough to disturb sleeping patterns.
Sleep – or more importantly REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep – is highly critical for the body. It is during this time that the body works extensively to repair and heal itself. If the sleep patterns are disturbed or you do not get enough REM sleep, then healing time is significantly extended, while there are high chances of other complications developing.
Melatonin plays a major role in ensuring you get drowsy and sleep longer. Unfortunately, it is optimally triggered and released only when there's complete darkness and utter silence. The new research suggests that it might also help people fall asleep and spend more time in REM, even in noisy environments or situations where their natural circadian rhythms are being messed with. The most common culprits that mess up sleep are fluorescent lights - such as those commonly found in ICUs. These lights, along with a cacophony of sounds, disturb sleep of patients who desperately need to rest in order to get better.
To ensure melatonin worked, researchers split healthy people who had been exposed to ICU environment in four groups. One was unknowingly given a placebo, another was provided with ear plugs and eye masks. The third was given 1 mg of melatonin, and the last group was left to their own devices before bedtime.
As expected, melatonin accorded a better night's sleep than the ear plugs and eye mask and caused participants to spend more time in REM sleep. The ICU environment undoubtedly reduced melatonin levels, but those who had taken the melatonin had higher levels overall than the other groups.
[Image Credit | Flickr/University Herald]