This just in from Harvard researchers: Melatonin helps you sleep more soundly, reduces harmful inflammation, and improves insulin sensitivity, cutting your risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers 32 percent — and your risk of diabetes, stroke, and migraines 50 percent.
Here are some ways you can keep your melatonin high.
Although you can buy melatonin supplements, European researchers say taking 5-HTP is often a better option. This amino acid prods your brain to make its own melatonin for hours at a stretch, while melatonin pills only provide a short-term burst. Proof that 5-HTP works: Three studies found taking 100 mg. at bedtime cut insomnia and restlessness sleep 62 percent. Under a lot of stress? Taking an additional 100 mg. each morning could help you feel calmer and happier, since daytime doses of 5-HTP boost production of mood-steadying serotonin. One option: Vitacost 5-HTP ($15.99, Vitacost).
Eat more grapes and cherries.
Purple grapes are so naturally rich in melatonin, eating a heaping cup at bedtime can significantly boost your blood levels of this healing hormone in as little as 72 hours, researchers say. Another melatonin-rich snack: Tart cherries — fresh, frozen, dried, or juiced. In one study, an ounce of cherry juice twice a day gave folks an extra 25 minutes of deep sleep every night.
Go to bed earlier.
Going to bed a half-hour earlier can as much as double your brain’s melatonin production. “The more sleep you get before midnight, the more active your brain’s melatonin-producing pineal gland becomes,” explains Meir Kryger, MD, author of The iGuide to Sleep ($8.99, Barnes and Noble).
Wear a sleep mask.
Your alarm clock, cable box… anything in your room that emits light during sleep can lower melatonin production. Wearing a sleep mask could double your nightly melatonin production, says Dr. Kryger.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.