Over 90 percent of us use technology well into the evening, and it’s triggering energy-zapping disruptions in melatonin production. The hormone climbs naturally at night to ensure we fall (and stay) asleep. “But it plays other roles, like reducing inflammation, enhancing immunity and clearing toxins that accumulate in the brain during the day,” says Aviva Romm, MD, author of Hormone Intelligence. So when electronics and modern-day lighting impair its production, sleep woes, fatigue, and brain fog follow.
Women over 50 are at high risk. In fact, research shows that by age 50, melatonin levels are 85 percent lower than they were in our 20s. Doctors can ID melatonin disruptions with saliva tests, or you can try the DIY Sleep and Stress test at Everlywell.com. If you suspect you’re suffering, the following steps can help:
Wearing red glasses can combat melatonin disruptions. “They block out blue light emitted by LED lights, computers and cellphones, which has been shown to lower evening melatonin output by 40 percent,” says integrative neurologist Alexander Zubkov, MD, PhD. He advises choosing glasses that block 99.9 percent of blue light between 450 and 550 nm (the most disruptive light wavelengths) and wearing them from sundown to bed-time. A top-rated brand: The Night Collection, SafetyBlueBlockers.com.
Melatonin supplements help. Dr. Romm advises taking .3 to .5 mg. 30 minutes before bed for three nights. “If you don’t get results, increase to 1 mg. for the next three nights, then 2 mg., then 3 mg., over three-night periods, until you find the dose that works for you, stopping at a maximum of 3 mg. One to try: NOW Melatonin Supplements (Buy on Amazon, $10.93)
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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