The Melatonin Chronicles

My struggles with sleep started many years ago.

In college, it was too much sleep. As in, I was so depressed that all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. (At the time, I didn’t realize I was actually depressed, I just thought it was college).

In medical school, it was either too much or too little sleep.

Now, in residency, it’s unrestful sleep. It could be related to the stress, long hours, lack of proper diet and exercise, or a ‘healthy’ combination of all of the above.

That’s where melatonin comes into the picture.

That sweet gummy melatonin.

I am up to 6 mg a night, can’t fall asleep without it.

That being said, I have rarely gotten a good night’s sleep. Possibly related to the baseline level of fatigue that develops as you progress through medicine (see my piece on physician burnout), I never feel fully rested.

The dreams too.

Melatonin gives you the craziest, most vivid dreams. I can’t say I don’t enjoy them from time to time. But sometimes, they almost seem too real. Most of the time, it is based around the stresses of my work as a physician. But once in a while, it is a variation of reality.

As a physician, I come across this issue on an almost daily basis with patients. Most think they have insomnia and “want something to help them sleep”. My recommendation is always melatonin first.

Your body naturally produces melatonin as part of the circadian rhythm. Because of our high-paced, bright-screened lifestyle, this rhythm has become significantly disrupted. Maintaining a healthy, regular sleep schedule is important, and melatonin supplements can help with this.

Melatonin is my savior, my ‘dream come true’ for getting decent sleep.

Long Live Melatonin.

Until next time, Rad-Monster 🌺

Tips for a good night’s sleep:

Pick a bedtime, and stick to it (even on weekends). Try to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday to develop a consistent habit.

Keep your room under 70ºF (21ºC) – colder rooms are better for helping relax the body into a peaceful sleep.

Turn off all electronics 2 hours before your preferred bedtime. No TV, phone, computers in the bedroom.

Have a consistent bedtime routine that does not involve electronic devices; read a book, take a bath, meditate, clean.

If you need some additional help falling asleep, you can try melatonin. Start with 2-3 mg melatonin and work your way up if needed.