What falling asleep “naturally” means

By Sarah Moe, CEO of Sleep Health Specialists & AMEC Member

As we enter this beautiful Fall season, “fall-ing asleep” may feel a bit easier for some- windows open, breezes flowing through the house, kids back in school making for quieter days. The excitement and anticipation of the upcoming holidays puts an extra pep in our steps. Yet, fall can also be a time of high stress for many of us, resulting in those nights when our heads hit the pillow, but the sleep we so desire remains elusive. Wouldn’t we all prefer to fall asleep naturally?

But what does falling asleep naturally really mean? It means falling asleep without the assistance of sleep aids or any other type of intervention. This definition is the evolution from a darker time in sleep medicine when controversial “sleeping pills” were the only sleep aid available for decades. Patients were frequently prescribed unnecessary medications with severe side effects, like benzodiazepines that were addictive, then Zolpidem, which was highly hypnotic, or Ambien to knock them out without any regard for what was causing their underlying sleep disorders.

More recently, the evolution of sleep medicine has taken a much more positive turn. First and foremost, as with any initial group experimenting with medications, the amount of good these sleep aids deliver is most likely immeasurable. A restorative night was an absolute game changer for many patients, regardless of how it was achieved. It also caused most of us to question why we were taking so many pills and to study their impact on our overall health. The “wellness” movement - and patients advocating for ourselves and our wellbeing - had begun. We no longer accept potentially harmful pills; we now understand the need for more natural solutions to keep our bodies and minds healthy.

On this wellness journey, discovering melatonin as a natural sleep aid was a significant milestone and the subject of ample research. Sleep education is now more widespread and has taught us that melatonin is a sleep hormone that we produce in our brains to signal that it is time to sleep. A melatonin supplement is non-habit forming and considered a natural sleeping aid. It can be very helpful if our bodies are temporarily deficient in that hormone. So how do you know if you are deficient in melatonin? The truth is that we probably are deficient in melatonin most of the time, especially during seasonal changes and stressful times.

Melatonin comes from serotonin, which most of us know as a “happy hormone.” Serotonin is created in our gut from sunlight exposure and positive experiences, which is why those living in climates with little sunlight tend to feel more depressed more often. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin- the more serotonin we produce, the more it can be converted into melatonin at the onset of darkness. When the sun goes down, this conversion happens naturally in our brains, allowing us to fall asleep. When experiencing stressful life events such as the ongoing pandemic, our serotonin production tends to drop significantly, and so does our melatonin production. As we transition into a new season with shorter days, adopting a new sleep ritual that includes a melatonin supplement such as the Alurx Sleep Gummy with Natural Melatonin, Strawberry Flavor can be a game changer to help boost your wellness.

Fall is the perfect time to adopt a new sleep ritual and acquire healthy habits before the holiday season brings in new stressors. I also recommend wearing an eye mask to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and turn off all device screens at least thirty minutes before bedtime.