I spoke to Lisa Shives, M.D., founder of The Linden Center for Sleep and Weight Management, concerning a product called MidNite that aids in getting to sleep when used as part of the regular bedtime routine. The main ingredient in MidNite is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body and controls the sleep-wake cycle. This hormone is called melatonin.
Examiner: Do some people produce less melatonin than others?
Shives: As we age, the production of melatonin slowly declines. Senior citizens produce a low amount of melatonin.
Examiner: When people have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep and they take a dose of MidNite, is it okay to take more than one dose if they are still awake after 45 minutes?
Shives: Less melatonin is better because all it takes is a low dose to trigger the natural production of melatonin by the body. However, what’s great about a product like MidNite is that it can be taken anytime during the night to help adults get back to sleep as long as there are at least three more hours of sleep time left, with no morning grogginess. Waking in the night is actually a top issue for many adults. The number one sleep problem for women and adults age 35 and older is staying asleep at night, according to a 2013 survey by MidNite.
Examiner: Midnight also contains lemon balm, lavender and chamomile. These herbs have been used for many years as sleep aids, correct?
Shives: These three herbs have been used for centuries and we still don't know exactly how they work, but they do promote sleep and relax the body so the natural sleep cycle can take over. They are often used in aromatherapy to promote sleep.
Examiner: How long does it take for the melatonin in MidNite to work?
Shives: Melatonin activates the natural sleep cycle so it can vary by individual. If a person does nothing to prepare herself for sleep, it may take longer. MidNite should be taken as a part of the nightly routine while preparing for sleep. Ideally, lights should be dimmed two hours before bedtime. This means turning off electronic devices such as computers, cell phones and tablets. Too much light hinders the production of melatonin.
Examiner: Should the possibility of health issues be explored by a family physician before a person takes it upon himself to treat for insomnia?
Shives: Absolutely. Physical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, heart disease and sleep apnea may be contributing to insomnia. A person may need to spend a night in a sleep clinic to determine the cause.
Examiner: Should children be given a drug-free sleep aid like MidNite?
Shives: MidNite hasn't been tested on children and is indicated for adult use only. Melatonin is a hormone that shares a pathway with testosterone. It is possible that testosterone could be lowered slightly in male children if melatonin is taken.
Shives also spoke about a few of the symptoms of sleep deprivation. When people don't get enough restorative sleep, they have poor memories and find it difficult to solve even minor problems. Polls taken in the last five years by the National Sleep Foundation show a third of Americans get six hours of sleep each night or less. Chronic insomnia takes a toll on human health.
Shives mentioned the connection between poor sleep and weight gain. Appetite hormones get out of sync when people are sleep deprived even a couple of nights. In some case, it’s been shown that diabetes can be induced by partial-sleep deprivation, for example, getting four hours of sleep each night for two consecutive nights.
This article has been edited. The words 'drug free' have replaced the words 'all natural.' Although melatonin is produced naturally by the body, the melatonin in medicine is usually made synthetically in a lab.