Before taking melatonin, Dr. McCauley encourages people to concentrate on good “sleep hygiene,” a term that refers to establishing and maintaining a bedroom environment and daily routines designed to help you achieve consistent, uninterrupted sleep.
Some of those habits include:
- Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
- Keeping your bedroom cool, quiet and dark.
- Avoiding caffeine before bed.
- Avoiding TV or phone screens in bed. The light can trick the brain into thinking it is daytime.
And in cases of persistent insomnia, Dr. McCauley notes that patients might be best served by tackling the root cause, which is often anxiety or depression.
“I have found that there are usually underlying causes that can be addressed,” she says.
If you do take melatonin, make sure to keep your physician in the loop.
“It is always important to discuss with your doctor any over-the-counter medications you are taking,” Dr. McCauley says.