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Reach for Your Sleep Mask, Not The Bottle:
The less intrusive alternative to melatonin supplements

Reach for Your Sleep Mask, Not The Bottle:<BR/> The less intrusive alternative to melatonin supplements

If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, and you find yourself reaching for the melatonin bottle, you’re not alone.  In fact, it’s become so popular, some people refer to melatonin as the new vitamin D.  A report from the National Institutes of Health notes that from 1999 to 2018, melatonin consumption among adults increased by a staggering 425%, and high dose use tripled over that time.

So, if it’s that popular, it must be good, right?  Well, that depends.


Melatonin is an endogenous hormone, created by the pineal gland, located in the brain. Its role is to help regulate our circadian rhythm, or wake-sleep cycle.  When it’s dark, the pineal gland increases melatonin secretion, helping us get to sleep. It also supports REM, or deep sleep, which is an important stage in our nightly sleep cycle1.

So, if melatonin occurs naturally, and helps us sleep, then why should we be concerned that lots of people are using it?  Well, first of all, although melatonin affects brain chemistry, it’s sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement, and is largely unregulated by the FDA.  Consequently, we often don’t know how much we’re taking.

According to a study by Erland and Saxena2, the actual content in a bottle of melatonin may range from minus 83% to plus 478% of the concentration printed on the label.  That can lead to ineffectual underdosing, or potential side effects and in rare instances, overdosing.  While side effects are not often serious, common short-term problems include headaches, dizziness, and nausea.  Changes in blood pressure, mood swings, and depression have been cited as long-term reactions3.  Additionally, with repeated use, the body develops resistance to the supplement, leading to higher and higher dosing and dependency for sleep.


Fortunately, those of us struggling with sleep have a simpler, less intrusive option.  To stimulate our natural melatonin secretion, all we have to do is create darkness.

In a study published in the journal Critical Care4, subjects in a sleep lab were exposed to the environment of a simulated intensive care unit.  Imagine the fluorescent and flashing lights, beeping noises and other disturbances associated with an ICU.  Half the subjects were exposed to the full noise and light, while the other half were given eye masks (ear plugs were also distributed).  All subjects were monitored for sleep quality, melatonin levels, and cortisol levels (an adrenal hormone indicating stress).

Interestingly, most subjects remarked that noise did not inhibit or disrupt their sleep, but light was problematic.  And although cortisol levels went unchanged, masked subjects had a significant increase in melatonin levels when compared to their control group counterparts.  Additionally, those wearing masks demonstrated shorter REM latency, more REM sleep time, and fewer arousals from sleep.

So, rather than reaching for a bottle of supplements when trying to fall asleep, just grab your sleep mask, also known as an eye mask, instead.  The SOMO Sleep Fitness mask has the added benefit of its patented SOMOsphereTM acupoint, which helps to induce calm, create relaxation, and bring on a natural, deep sleep.

Rooted in science and data, read more about the benefits of wearing a sleep mask or eye mask, and the clinically proven benefits of acupressure for sleep and recovery as well as how to optimize your SOMO Sleep mask experience. 


  1. Kunz, D., Mahlberg, R., Muller, C., (2004). Melatonin in patients with reduced REM sleep duration: two randomized controlled trials. The Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism. 89(1): 128-134.
  2. Erland, L. and Saxena, P. (2017). Melatonin natural health products and supplements: presence of serotonin and significant variability of melatonin content. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 13(2): 275-281.
  3. Besag, F., Vasey, M., Lao, K., and Wong, I. (2019). Adverse events associated with melatonin for the treatment of primary or secondary sleep disorders: a systematic review. CNS Drugs. 33(12): 1167-1186.
  4. Hu, R-f., Jiang, X-y, Zeng, Y-m., (2010). Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Critical Care. 14(2): R66.