Sleep is almost the most important restorative health matter for everyone, particularly for those with mental health issues. Everyone will tell you to get more sleep when you have depression, and I agree. But how do you do that when you absolutely wired and possibly afraid? Well, firstly you have to understand a little better what is happening.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally excreted by the pineal gland. It may have many functions but the primary function is to regulate your circadian rhythm or your sleep/wake cycle. This is important because many people with anxiety or depression have difficulties with their sleeping. If you don’t have enough Melatonin you won’t sleep well. There are quite a few “natural” enemies of Melatonin and we'll examine them here. The enemies are not natural in the literal sense.
The number one natural enemy of Melatonin is light, but particularly blue light. There is a particular light frequency that effects Melatonin and it’s about 500nm (nanometres) which is the light frequency of blue light from the sky.
Today, blue light has many more sources than just the sky, the top sources being; fluorescent light, LED light, TV screens, computer screens, smartphone screens. There's a particular problem with computer and smartphone screens and that is, the distance our eyes are from the screen. By using artificial light and screens we delay the onset of Melatonin production. Our eyes continue to receive signals that blue light (the sky) is still blue and therefore melatonin is not needed. When eventually the TV and other sources of light are turned off, then Melatonin production begins. It takes 2-3 hours before melatonin peaks enough to bring on the onset of sleep. Of course, we have “trained ourselves” to overcome these difficulties to some extent. Our training however, has some difficulties overcoming thousands of years of evolution. There are many fixes for this melatonin reduction and I'll tell you one right now. Turn off all lights and screens 2 hours before you want to sleep. If you want to read, use a candle, the light is on a different frequency and wont stop melatonin reduction. Not willing to do that? Fair enough it wouldn't suit me either. There are plenty of other fixes easier than going back to the dark ages.
Before I tell you about how to fix this melatonin problem, there is another “natural” enemy of Melatonin and that is Fluoride. You will need to research this yourself but fluoride compounds lead to calcification of the Pineal gland and slow the progression of melatonin. What I do is just try to minimise the amount of fluoride that I am ingesting with water filters and bottled water.
You can buy melatonin on prescription in Australia and over the counter in The USA. It works but you have to know how to use it properly.
Fixing your sleep will improve your depression and anxiety.
LIGHTS, COMPUTERS AND TV
These are the main sources of stray blue light. The whiter the bulb the more blue light. Yellower colours are easier on your eye and your melatonin. If it’s safe and you can, try candles, but this is not really a workable solution for most of us. There are also yellow or orange light bulbs if you really have a problem, but again not a great long-term solution. There are easier ways.
Modern computers and phones are major sources of Blue Light and we also tend to sit quite close to the screens. With your computer and smartphone you can download a program called F.Lux which changes the colour of your screen as the sun sets to a less blue/more orange screen. This is quite useful if you use your computer or phone at night.