You've gotten ready for bed and tucked into bed, but still can't fall asleep. If you've found that melatonin supplements aren't helping you fall asleep more easily, a brand new study may have found a more reliable and even more natural solution to help you do just that.
Data from the February 2022 Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that over the past 20 years, the use of melatonin supplements for healthy sleep has increased by 478%. If you've turned to this sleep hormone in pill form, you know that when a melatonin supplement does its job properly, it really helps.
But if you've found that's not always the case, a brand new study may have found a more reliable—and even more natural—solution. Earlier this month, Swedish researchers shared their discovery that another increasingly popular sleep aid was remarkably effective at stimulating the body's release of melatonin, reports The Healthy.
In an October 2022 study — published in the Journal of Sleep Research — 26 men and women were asked to sleep one night with a weighted blanket and then one night without. After measuring the levels of three hormones in the participants' saliva (melatonin, oxytocin and cortisol), the study concluded that melatonin levels increased by an impressive 32% when the participants slept with a weighted blanket.
Why a melatonin supplement is not always the best solution
Melatonin is a hormone that the brain releases when exposed to darkness, helping to regulate your circadian rhythm to help you fall asleep, but there are factors that affect melatonin production.
For example, a 2012 German study published in the Scientific World Journal noted that melatonin secretion decreases with age, as well as in many individuals who have diseases such as dementia, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
The Johns Hopkins Medicine blog also points out that lifestyle can affect melatonin production in the body. Habits such as using personal tech products and eating too close to bedtime can also make it harder for the body to produce melatonin.
Furthermore, the science behind melatonin's effectiveness is still a matter of debate. Melatonin supplements are produced synthetically. In addition, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines —there is not enough evidence to prove that taking melatonin can help with chronic insomnia.
How to increase melatonin naturally
Weighted blankets are known for simulating deep pressure, according to the Sleep Foundation. This means that controlled weight pressure can help calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. As this study claims: weighted blankets can even help you fall asleep faster when you feel restless at night.