124: Dr. Deanna Minich, Nutrition Scientist & International Lecturer: All About Melatonin: Going Deeper On This Fascinating Molecule

Join us as we dive into the topic of melatonin with Dr. Deanna Minich, who is an expert in the field. She discusses the myths and truths surrounding melatonin, its functions, and its role in immune health. Dr.Minich shares her journey into studying melatonin and provides valuable insights into different formats and the pros and cons of melatonin. 

Dr. Minich also discusses the importance of nutrition, dietary patterns, lifestyle choices, and so much more.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to understand melatonin and its impact on sleep and overall health.


Deanna Minich, MS, PhD, CNS, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP), is a nutrition scientist, international lecturer, educator, and author, with over twenty years of experience in academia and in the food and dietary supplement industries, currently serving as Chief Science Officer at Symphony Natural Health. She has been active as a functional medicine clinician in clinical trials and in her own practice (Food & Spirit™). 

She is the author of six consumer books on wellness topics, four book chapters, and over fifty scientific publications. Her academic background is in nutrition science, including a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1995) and a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Medical Sciences from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (1999). She has served on the Nutrition Advisory Board for The Institute of Functional Medicine and on the Board of Directors for the American Nutrition Association. Currently, she teaches for the Institute for Functional Medicine, University of Western States, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Institute for Brain Potential. Through her talks, workshops, groups, and in-person retreats, she helps people to practically and artfully transform their lives through nutrition and lifestyle. Visit her at: www.deannaminich.com 

In this episode, we discuss:

💊  The truth about melatonin

💊 Melatonin's multifaceted functions

💊 Utilizing melatonin dosage

💊 Melatonin and hormone disruption 

💊 Darkness deficiency and melatonin 

💊 Quality of dietary supplements

💊 Sleep disruptions and erbutonin

💊 Time-restricted feeding for sleep

💊 Cell clean-up time

💊 Melatonin myths and misconceptions

💊 Melatonin and sleep disruptions 

💊 Maca as an adaptogen

💊 Evening detoxification strategies Front-loading caloric intake Importance of a healthy mattress Cooking and inflammation

💊 What we could learn from Dr. Minich morning routine.

💊 Helpful Resource: Is Melatonin the “Next Vitamin D”?

💊  And More!!!


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Good Idea Code: SLEEP10

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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deannaminich/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deanna.minich/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deannaminich/


The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.

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to the sleep as a skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability, and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.


Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.


Welcome to another episode. So does the sleep is a skill podcast where we explore all things sleep and how to optimize it for better health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. And I'm thrilled to have an extraordinary guest joining us this week, a multifaceted nutrition scientist, functional medicine, clinician, and an international lecturer with more than two decades of experience.


Dr. Deanna Minich, and with a academic background in human nutrition and medical sciences, Dina's holistic approach is paving the way for transformative wellness as the current chief science officer at symphony natural health. She's an advocate for the power of nutrition and life. Style to truly transform lives on today's episode.


We jump into the interconnectedness of nutrition and sleep. And Dr. Minaj will guide us through understanding the intimate link between our dietary choices and the quality of our sleep. Prepare to gain insights into how to use nutrition as a tool to enhance your sleep and consequently your overall health.


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So visit www. goodidea. com and use the code sleep 10 for a 10% discount on your first order. Now invest in better sleep and in turn. In a better, more energized life and welcome to the sleep is a skill podcast. This is going to be a fantastic and needed podcast because we are going to dive into all things melatonin and beyond.


So I'm very, very excited for my guests today. Thank you so much for taking the time to be


here. Oh, so good to be here with you, Mollie, and I'm excited to talk about melatonin. So many, um, questions that people have because it's been in the news. And so I hope that we'll get through a lot of the myths and get to the truth of melatonin.




Fantastic. This is needed. A lot of people are confused on this topic of melatonin. So I'm excited to have you here to help guide this, um, how we're thinking about this very important. Thank you. Hormone and beyond. You're gonna share all the functions of melatonin, but before we get there, just a little bit about you.


How did you find yourself in this role that you're in now and really starting to own this area of study? How did you get to this


place? Well, I think the pandemic had some role in the whole process because, yeah. What I noticed as a nutrition scientist was that a lot of studies were coming out on vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, quercetin, and melatonin.


This was part of the immune protocols, so I did some work on, um, different nutrition protocols for boosting immune health, began to look at melatonin, I also started working with a company called Symphony Natural Health, which makes a plant melatonin, and in working with them, learned a lot more about melatonin, the pros, the cons, the formats, and so much so that, um, we published an article in a scientific journal back in September of 2022.


So it was a review article, like 40 pages of all things melatonin from A to Z. So I've never known so much about melatonin until this part of my life, but what I'm most passionate about is plants, you know, looking at plants, phytochemicals, and that's also how melatonin entered into this because melatonin is found in plants.




interesting. Okay. And now you've immersed yourself in this area of study, and I'm sure there must be a lot of conflicts or things that come up that you see in the news, where people are speaking to this topic, and I know it's important for us today to kind of mix bust. So what are some of the things that you see around this topic of melatonin that maybe you'd like to kind of set the record straight or help us frame this topic and we can kind of begin with what is melatonin and then take it from there?


Yeah, well, melatonin is an endolamine. So it is a molecule that our human bodies produce. So we do produce it. And it's also in plants. It's in animals. So it's pervasive in everything in nature. You know, I gotta say, it's like, but the thing about melatonin in our human bodies is that we produce the most when we're children.


So we peak as we are children and then we go into puberty, we go into early adult life. Then the amount of melatonin that our pineal gland produces starts to decline. And by the time we hit our fifties, we are at a low of melatonin. And that's oftentimes when we start to see a lot of sleep disturbance, we see the onset of a lot of chronic diseases.


So it's been postulated that endogenous melatonin, so the melatonin that we produce in our own bodies, has something to do with the connection to anti inflammatory activity, antioxidant status. You know, um, one of the myths that's out there is that melatonin As a supplement is unsafe because it's a hormone and what I have seen is that melatonin is so much more like it's it's regulating the mitochondria.


It's important for immune health. I know that your podcast is about sleep. But I would say that melatonin probably has less to do with sleep and more to do with the circadian rhythm. Yes, preach! Which you love as well, right? I mean, you've had all kinds of guests on to talk about the circadian rhythm. So it's, it's, you know, I liken it, Mollie, to vitamin D, you know, how we thought vitamin D was a vitamin and it was just responsible for the absorption of calcium.


Well, we now know that vitamin D is much more sophisticated. It is pleiotropic, meaning that it has so many different functions in the body, and it's also a hormone. So it's not to say that we don't stop taking vitamin D because it's a hormone. We acknowledge that it has hormone like properties, and it's an antioxidant, it's an immune modulator, it helps with our mineral status.


And in much the same way, we see melatonin morphing into a very similar type of profile, where it's a hormone. Produced by the pineal gland at night, but it's also produced in the mitochondria. It's produced in the cell. It's produced in the gut. In fact, the gut produces 400 times the amount of melatonin the pineal gland produces, but it's used differently.


Right? So it's kind of, uh, it just depends where the melatonin is coming from that will determine how it's used in the body that I think will determine whether or not it's a classic hormone or if it's acting as an antioxidant and trying to sweep up a lot of free radicals. So just to distill all of that down, what I'm wanting to say here is that.


melatonin is more than a hormone. The science has shown us over these decades that it's doing so many things and it crosses the blood brain barrier. So it seems to be having a role. One of its more recent roles is in brain detoxification at night. So when we sleep, one of the goals is to rejuvenate and to restore and to allow our brain to kind of reset Thanks everybody.


Get rid of those toxic amyloid metabolites, clear out the brain from the glymphatic fluid. Into the lymphatic fluid and to wake up with a much more clear headed state, right? It seems that melatonin is part of that process. So that's another exciting feature along with being a growth factor for nerve cells.


So brain derived neurotropic factor. I know I'm just saying a lot of these. There's so much here on melatonin. It has so many different functions and we could put if you want in the show notes, there's a link to our. scientific publication where people can go and drill deep into each of those different functions because they continue to expand.


Even, you know, even now there, there's so much coming out just even on viral replication, you know, that, and that's really where during the pandemic melatonin entered in because, you know, We know that it may have a role within the cell in preventing viruses from setting up their factories and kind of, uh, hijacking the cell.


So, bottom line, it's doing a lot of different things. It's more than a


hormone. Ah, well, thank you for breaking that down for us. And just to underscore on that piece on the viral component, because we have seen a lot of people Dealing with either, not only getting COVID, getting COVID again and again, and long COVID and disruptions in their sleep.


Just while we're on that topic, I'm wondering if you can share any guidance for people on ways to think about utilizing melatonin, would you utilize it differently in the dosage or kind of just framing that topic while


we're there? Yeah, you know, it's also new is what I would say. So my scientific side says we need to be a little bit cautious because we don't have a lot of research on it.


But there are some clinicians that are trying out different doses, different ways to bring it in because it is a very potent anti inflammatory, right? So in terms of dosing, I think that there's kind of like this happy middle. I call it the Goldilocks principle. You don't want too little, you don't want too much, you want just right.


So for somebody who is a middle aged adult, maybe has had COVID, has had some type of immune dysregulation and issues, you know, just filling the potholes with a standard 0. 3 milligram daily dose. to just help with subtle aspects of anti inflammatory activity, also bringing in the antioxidant activity, the mitochondrial regulation.


There can be some instances where up to three milligrams could be used, right? So perhaps we talk about perimenopausal women and sleep disruption, you know, that there might be an instance where somebody, let's just imagine a 50 year old woman who has had COVID, uh, multiple times now has long COVID, um, symptoms and is going through perimenopause.


You know, she's got a lot going on. She may need some additional support from something like melatonin where her levels of melatonin will already be low just because of her age and further. compounded by low estrogen and progesterone. So a dose of about three milligrams might be more helpful for somebody like that where they need additional support.


But as far as people doing all these really high levels of melatonin, yeah. There's just not a lot of science to support the use of high level melatonin over a long period of time. I think we need to exercise some caution with that, but having lower doses to patch the gap of where we are from our age, from our health status, you know, to kind of smooth the potholes of whatever we're dealing with, you know, just, I do think melatonin is quite unique from other.


antioxidants and other types of support that we could be taking supplementally.


Amazing. And on that point of the high dose, so for those that have looked into utilizing high dose melatonin during times of high viral load or maybe cancer, etc. Yes. Where does that come from? Are there certain, I know people allude to certain studies of high dose for, um, particular times in life.


Is that something where it's just very limited in the research at the moment?


Correct. It's very specific and actually you mentioned one of the conditions that would be cancer. Certain types of cancer have been studied in relationship to melatonin supplementation. That's not me. But if we look at the research out there, there is a, um, a researcher by the name of Dr.


Paolo Lisoni. He's in Italy. He's done and published a number of papers looking at the role of melatonin supplementation in, in patients that are undergoing chemotherapy. It seems to make the chemotherapy work better, and it seems to protect the healthy cells from being damaged is what I take away from his research.


Obviously, that's his cornerstone. And so using higher doses, double digit doses is what he has used in patients under medical supervision, you know, under these defined timelines under, you know, looking at different therapeutics. So, It's not to say that it hasn't been used. There is a lineage, a scientific lineage of looking at studies where they have used higher dose melatonin in certain populations for distinct periods of time to see those effects.


But I'm talking like your run of the mill, like your everyday use, like is it okay to just buy a melatonin over the counter? How would you do that? Does it interact with other medications you might be taking? stuff like that. So that's why I'm recommending a little bit of a lower dose for most people just to kind of fill the gap.


Okay, so that's really well said. So now on the other side of the spectrum, kind of that Goldilocks perspective and finding that proper dosage for for people to use maybe outside of those acute situations. How do we think about that for those, you know, like the archetype you mentioned of the This woman that maybe is perimenopausal, it's had COVID multiple times, long COVID symptoms, like a lot going on.


Those are particularly the types of archetypes that I might see that are also getting nervous around now supplementing with something like melatonin, concerned that, Oh, is this going to disrupt my own innate ability to produce melatonin? I'm wondering if you can help break down that big question for people.


Oh my gosh, that happens all the time. And I would ask, like, if you take vitamin D, does that stop your body from making vitamin D. It's a similar situation, right? No, uh, taking melatonin as a supplement to the best of what we can see in the science. And there have been about four or five studies that have set out to answer that question.


We essentially see that there's no change in endogenous production, that that remains intact. However, I also want to say to your listeners that melatonin. would not be my first go to per se to think of like, let's just patch everything. You know, in functional medicine, we talk about looking for the root cause.


Why do people have hormone disruption? Let's look at our environment. Let's look at endocrine disruption. What do we have that can be getting in the way of the proper communication within our endocrine system? Anything from plastic to artificial light at night. You and I were talking before we jumped on it.


about, you know, you have a lot of passion as I do about the circadian rhythm. Like we need to get that right. And people are always saying like, Oh, it's so expensive to take supplements. Okay, well then let's first look at kind of like a triangle. What's at the base of the triangle? Let's try to figure out like what we can do in our lifestyle in order to better prime our own.


innate rhythm to align with nature, right? And let's just go through a couple of those principles. Like you've already had guests on, so your listeners know this, but you know, light first thing in the morning. And this is a challenge for me. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so it's like for me to get up in the, in the fall and winter months and like get outside, but even though it may look cloudy, you're still getting full spectrum light.


So that's really important. And then to monitor your day, punctuate it with eating. Greater amounts earlier in the day, right? And then you kind of trail off. Now, one of the things that happens late at night that I think is a culprit for many people and is disrupting their hormones, including melatonin in this way, is that they have what we call darkness deficiency.


Yeah. You know how you had the light lady on? Yeah. I love that she was called herself the light lady. How great is that? Yeah. Classic. So I would say that the light lady is, um, you know, hammering on a certain principle about light. We need lights, we need sunlight for our eyes, our retina to have that cue.


We also need it for vitamin D production. So there's that. But what we, we also need darkness and many of us, I mean, it's just a fact our pineal gland doesn't produce melatonin unless we're in complete darkness, meaning no. strong night lights. If we have, like, in our bedroom, we have all these lights flashing, we have an LED right next to us on our nightstand, we could see the, the, the light cast out from that.


That stuff, even though it seems like small bits of light, changing our retina, not all of us have, um, you know, the skin might allow for some of that light to permeate through. And so we can dramatically affect melatonin production at night just by having exposure to light. So if we can go with the sun and when the sun starts to dim late at night, already our body starts to produce more melatonin.


So if we can prevent ourselves from having that darkness deficiency, being on screens, you know, all these kids popping melatonin gummies because their parents are thinking, Oh, they're not sleeping well. Let me just give them these nice, sweet, sugary. Gummies, which I am so like thumbs down on because of the sugar, lack of quality.


I mean, who knows what happens when you put melatonin into a gummy, it's stability. I mean, these kids just, I think that they're not in sync with their natural rhythm because in a normal sense, our melatonin is highest when we're kids. So there's something off here, you know, we need to get off of the blue screens at night.


Yes. And so to that point, because certainly one of the things that's in vogue for different supplements and supplement companies are these alternative means of delivery. So gummies, transdermal, these ways that you can Dissolve under your tongue and different types of modes to just differentiate and certainly gummies being top of the rung of really in popularity and to all age groups we're finding, but particularly, of course, to as you're speaking to to children, right?


So if you can. Share with us kind of the guidance for parents listening, how to think about melatonin supplementation for kids. Is there a time and place in a different way of bringing it in? Do you feel like that's just something's clearly broken and we shouldn't be supplementing for kids like ever?


How do you think about the kids


topic? It's great. You're asking all the the right questions. We didn't even like rehearse this or we didn't even have the question. So you're just nailing it, right? So I think when it comes to to children I feel best about first looking at lifestyle, looking at stress, looking at gut health, you know, there can be cases of dysbiosis or unhealthy gut microbiomes that can thwart kids mood, sleep, behavior.


cognition, you know, getting the gut right. What are they eating? You know, first and foremost, I'm a nutrition scientist. And just over the years, just seeing that, I mean, children are challenged in terms of like, they have certain requirements from a taste, a sensory perspective. that make them not want to eat fruits and veggies, things of that nature.


That's why I've talked about eating the rainbow to make it fun for kids. Love it. So I, I would not be thinking first and foremost about having kids just pop a melatonin supplement. Now, there are some cases in the research, however, where children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autistic spectrum disorder Uh, have been shown to benefit from certain levels of melatonin supplementation.


Now, that wouldn't be the only thing for ADHD and ASD, but melatonin has been used in those therapeutic capacities for Kids with those conditions. So there could be, um, a way to bring that in. The only thing that I'll say is that the doses for Children are not as well established like they are for adults.


So when I say for adults, 0. 3 milligrams is the low dose to be used more longer term. Three milligrams where we're looking at a higher dose for more of a an acute therapeutic indication when it comes to kids. There isn't like an amount where somebody has tested toxicity or, you know, at least not that I could find.


So it's not to say that melatonin couldn't be used in a child. I think it could, but it should be done under Medical supervision and not long term because we don't know the effects long term in Children, you know, pre puberty, you know how that could change certain things. Now, one other thing, Mollie is, um, I also think that the format you were asking about the format of melatonin.


So, uh, in full disclosure, I have worked in the dietary supplement industry for over goodness. What is it now? So, like about 20 years I've worked in the since 2003. Wow. Um, I pretty much entered into the dietary supplement industry and have been working in it ever since. So I know a little bit about dietary supplements.


One thing that really gets me is that the quality of dietary supplements is just as important as the active, right? So one of the things that came to light as I was looking at melatonin supplements and there was an article, I believe it was published in. 2018, talking about 13 different contaminants that can be found in synthetic melatonin supplements.


So what has happened is, you know, when melatonin was first identified back in the late 1950s from the pineal gland of animals. It was concentrated. It was put into supplements. Then there were all these issues with prions, viral connections, just immune types of problems with having that derived from animals.


So then what happened in the melatonin supplement industry is that people went into synthetic processing. So having a chemical derivative and then basically moving that through a chemical process to make melatonin and in so doing, what can happen by way of that process is that you can start to produce metabolites that are, uh, chemically unstable and even, um, contaminants.


So 99% of the melatonin supplements out there, even in gummy form or in a tablet form, sublingual, you name it, it is synthetic. And that really concerns me because Um, you know, first and foremost, it's like the people pay so much money to have these these supplements and then if they're not quality, they're adulterated, then you don't get the proper label claim that has been the issue in the news lately that some of these supplements that are taken off the shelves and then analyze, they show higher amounts of melatonin.


So imagine a child where you have a smaller body smaller level of, um, toxicity, that window is much more narrow. And then they're just popping a couple of these gummies or chewables, you know, you could get to pretty high levels of melatonin. So my, my preference personally is a plant melatonin. There's a study that was published, um, back in 2021, and it was taking a plant melatonin, which is called Erbitonin, Or, you know, from the plant kind of aspect and then assessing that relative to synthetic melatonin just to see if there could be better effects.


And so there were, you know, the urban tone in was more anti inflammatory was 646% greater in its anti inflammatory activity. And I think it's because it's the whole plant. It's not like it's just an extract where you don't know what you're getting. You could have. other chemical residual material in that supplement.


Herbitonin is just alfalfa, chlorella, and rice derived from the plant. So there's actually been a study on herbitonin. You know, they don't call it herbitonin because it's a study. So they don't give the commercial name. They just call it phytomelatonin or plant melatonin. So, that's what I choose to take personally, and I am that archetype that you described.


I am a perimenopausal woman. I have not had COVID, actually, which is quite shocking. Oh, okay. But I, um. I have had sleep disruption, uh, just even personally. So taking that higher dose, that three milligrams of Herbitonin has been important for me, especially, you know, like when people wake up between two and four a.


m. I was just talking with a colleague and she was talking about how her family, You know, she's in her fifties and how we were talking about how her family has a two to four a. m. club. It's like, you know, waking up and then she started taking herbitone in and has also had some improvement in not waking up between that two to four a.


m. window, which is really crucial that we stay asleep.


Yeah. No, that's a big one. So many people struggle with that. I would say that's one of the number one things that we get when people are coming our way to dive into this world of sleep optimization. That's one of the top things that they're frustrated about is those.


Wake ups and fragmented sleep patterns over and over again. So you're pointed to something really, really important. And I curious to more on that sourcing piece, because as you pointed out, it's been in the news and, you know, a lot of questions of. Whatever we are choosing to take, what is the actual dosage?


Where did it come from? So you helped us kind of understand that. Are there suggestions for you or your kind of best practices around could people get this as a prescription? Are there certain best practices for supplements of the ones that they might want to really double check? You know, you might take a lot of supplements, but in particular, something like melatonin that are third party tested or ways that you think about




Herpetonin specifically can be obtained online. It can also be obtained from a practitioner. So I always think I'm just going to be biased here and just say it's always better to go through a health practitioner. Yes. Because you know why? Because, you know, they could test you. They could look at all of your symptoms.


I mean, clinician.


I, I could have certain aspects of knowing certain things about my physiology, but it always makes a difference when somebody else is kind of honing in on what could be going on for you and monitoring it. So one of the things that can happen with melatonin, if people take it as a supplement, is They may not take it correctly.


Like there's a lot of nuance there. You and I were talking about nuance and how important that is. One thing is about the timing. For example, it needs to be taken like 30 to 40 minutes before bedtime, right? Um, and for some people, you know, another thing that I like to bring in separate from melatonin is to talk about time restricted feeding.


And how important that is for sleep, because I know you're going to ask me about my own sleep and what I do. One of my hacks is just like, you know, I, so I eat between, uh, I have basically an eight hour feeding window every day. And so I like to stop eating anything and everything by 6 p. m. So that means that I start from 10 a.


m. until 6, but typically I'm eating from 8 to 4. Then I stop. Yeah, if people are eating late into the night and then they're trying to pop and override that with melatonin trying to sleep again. I want everybody to think of melatonin not as a something with sleep. It's about circadian rhythm. So if you're not honoring circadian rhythm, you're just creating more havoc.


And so yeah, let's do it. In as much as you can, try to, you know, eating is a zeitgeiber. It is a time giver. It punctuates our day. So first and foremost, look at your eating and also look at when you're not eating and also look at when you're active because being active is another zeitgeiber. So if we're active earlier in the day, especially after we eat, that's better.


In fact, that helps to regulate parasympathetic nervous system activity. Whereas if we exercise at night, We can upregulate the sympathetic nervous system, making it harder to sleep. Not to say that, you know, a gentle walk after your last meal of the day isn't okay, but like, don't go and like, just get on a treadmill for like, 40 minutes and like, run and get all red faced and, you know, so late at night.


That's just counterproductive and it's not circadian. That's not the rhythm.


That's not the rhythm. 100%. I think it's so important. We just had Dr. Satchin Panda on the podcast, which was super exciting and circadian. Yeah, really, really important. I love that you called that out. And he also spoke to the importance of understanding that as we're eating in alignment with our circadian rhythm, That in the evening, our pancreas is meant to be asleep, you know, say asleep, but doing its routines and doing its cleaning and all the things that it needs to be doing at those times.


And that can be disruptive if during the times of melatonin production. So, so important to get that meal timing piece. Right. And I think we're only just starting to scratch the surface of our understanding of just how important this is. I think wearables have been really helpful in this conversation because we'll see so many people begin to notice, Oh, wow, my heart rate went up 10 beats per minute while sleeping just because I ate later than normal, my HRV went down, my respiratory rate, how is breathing.


apnea incidences went up because I ate later. All of these things can really go awry and then can be problematic. So I really appreciate you pointing to this is not just like a one and done thing. And we're not thinking of melatonin like an Ambien or something. We're taking it can't


be a patch for a bad lifestyle.


Right? I mean, I want to just go back to what you said about autophagy. Yeah. So auto self. phagy eating or cleaning. So what you talked about with the circadian code is so spot on because the way that I think, so part of the teaching that I do is on detoxification. And from 6 p. m. to 6 a. m. the liver is in oscillation mode to really sync up with clock genes, um, the autophagy process within cells.


Like there's a time when we're not supposed to be so active, right? The rest is important as the being active. This is yin and yang. Yeah. So if we are not Honoring that in some way, that's going to make it more challenging to sleep because sleep is intended to be detoxifying. In fact, this is a newer, um, finding that there was a study published last year that basically showed that, that 2 to 4 a.


m. window is what is peaking not only for melatonin, but melatonin works with glutathione. What do we know about glutathione? It's like the one of the melatonin and glutathione are like the mother and father antioxidants of the body. So we see peaks of glutathione at that time of night. We see peaks in antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, catalase.


They're all active at that time, which tells us that that is the major cell cleanup time between 2 and 4 a. m. So if we're waking up, what that tells me is that our body's not able to detoxify. There's something in the way of helping ourselves to actually go through that process naturally. So that should be a sign.


So this is where I think about bringing in greens, bringing in detoxifying agents. You know, melatonin is good for that. Glutathione is good for that. Those two are definitely in harmony in terms of what they're doing at night for us. But there might be other things that we do at night. Like we could take, um, binders, fibers.


You know, what we're, what is now coming to light is how fiber can also help to decrease cortisol. So dietary soluble fiber, the fermentable kind that gives us butyrate, it can help to change the gut lining. It can help with mucin production and fortifying that gut. Layer. It can help us to reduce cortisol.


It can help to stimulate brain derived neurotropic factor because at night is when we want our brain to actually be heightened in BDNF. We want neuronal growth to be happening. So that's what melatonin is playing a part of. But if we're getting in the way of that because we're so toxic and then we're So toxic.


Continuing with all of the debris up until bedtime, especially alcohol. This is what really gets me is that people do coffee in the morning, which actually I'm a okay with. Um, there, there is some medicinal use of coffee and caffeine that can be used early on, but then later in the day, how people bring in alcohol and they just further compound toxicity and they make it harder for their bodies to do that detox at night.


Huge, huge disruption for sleep. So I'm so glad you pointed to that. And certainly all the melatonin in the world. If you have a bottle of wine before sleep, it's going to be problematic. So I appreciate you pointing to these. I think this is part of why it's so important for people to get this concept that sleep really is a skill because there's so many things that can.


influence and help to support great sleep and take away or kind of get in the way of our goals with improving our sleep. And so on this topic of melatonin to kind of put a bow on this topic, which I know is, it's huge, huge topic. So I know we're only just scratching the surface, but is there any major piece of this story that you get frustrated around or feel like there's a lot of misnomers that you want to kind of set the record straight?


Or do you think we hit on most of them? Well, I


think you, uh, okay. So the, the myths would be that melatonin supplementally is dangerous because it's a hormone. Again, I think we addressed that very early on. Right. Think of melatonin like vitamin D. Yeah. And I think that there's a lot of fear tactics. And then usually there are other products that people are selling and then like, you know, they're saying, well, melatonin is bad, but take this product, you know, for sleep.


Right. So it's, it's sometimes used as a tactic. So number one, melatonin is not dangerous. It's been around in our food supply. It's been around in our bodies. Um, number two, do we stop endogenous production? If we start to take melatonin as a supplement that has been showed in a number of studies so far, so we know that we're not impacting it.


Number three, is more melatonin necessarily better? No, um, it's not necessarily better. In fact, um, this is where you might start to see some of the issues, right? So I think if we just want to replenish back to where we are normally as adults, as we hit our midlife, Like we're into their forties and fifties and our levels start to go down.


It's very modest. You know, a 0. 3 milligrams. I have a friend who's a naturopathic doctor and she had heard me lecture at a, at the same meeting that you had heard about me from, right? Yeah. And so, so she started taking Herbatonin at 0. 3 and she's like, I just didn't think that it could have an impact because it was so low dose, but she was like, oh my gosh, it truly worked.


And so I had just recently talked with her. You know, I, I don't, I think in the United States, many times we think that more is better and I don't necessarily think that that's the case with melatonin. We don't always have to have more. There could be cases where therapeutically is being used short term for some known effect.


So I don't discount that, but I'm number, number four, I'm not in favor of children using gummies and melatonin. I think you have to get at lifestyle, but. I am in favor of replenishing our levels later in life with a smaller, low dose in order to fill that gap. So I think that those are, that's, oh, and then perhaps the other myth is just, you know, all melatonin is created equal.


And it's really not, you know, I don't like a lot of these preparations with like sublingual time release, um, you know, where chemicals have been added in order to change the absorption because sometimes some of those chemicals are plastic derived or, um, you know, they're not all healthy compounds. So again, choosing a plant source of melatonin, which has its own plant matrix, it's It's more slowly, naturally absorbed through the digestive system.


I think that's key. And then, you know, I think that covers it for melatonin, but I do want to stress, you know, melatonin is not the first go to. Yeah. It is an adjunct. It is something to be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and healthy darkness and healthy light throughout the day.


I love this.


We have the light lady and the darkness deficiency. I know, but I so I completely agree. It's a real problem. Just one quick clarification for people if they're listening and have this question. So for children, we want to get at the root cause of what's going on ideally and less out of those particular cases that you pointed to.


And then you did mention for as life as we age, then our ability to create our own natural melatonin might Be impacted. So do you have a rule of thumb for when, like at what age, general age range when people might start to bring and find their own Goldilocks? And with that, is it something that you foresee that they would be taking this ongoingly?


And say they're traveling, jet lag, etc. It's okay to then take a little bit more to facilitate that. Just, I know that was a lot of questions, but.


Yeah, well, and that's why going to a practitioner might be helpful because, um, again, melatonin is the first go to, there might be other things to be looking at, like one is blood sugar, one is cortisol, you know, we can't negate that the first line from an endocrine perspective is looking at the triangle between cortisol, insulin, and glucose, that's really important to make sure that that's, that's on board because that can affect sleep.


Okay. You know, if somebody's just eating a lot of high glycemic food, and then, you know, low blood sugar can also wake you up at night. So let's just get some of the basics down. Yeah. The other basics would be, you know, looking at, are you eating the rainbow? Are you getting enough phytochemicals? Are you getting enough fiber?


You know, so, um, and then looking at one's toxic load, um, there have been studies that have shown that people can have restless leg or even other issues during sleep, um, because of, um, higher levels of things like toxic metals or other things in the environment that would be seen as, uh, endocrine disruptors.


So I think. If somebody really wants to get to the bottom of what's going on, working with a practitioner is going to be first and foremost of importance because, you know, however, if you are somebody who is a health practitioner, you already kind of know a lot. And some people are pretty well educated on their own physiology.


And they feel like, Oh, what she's saying here, I haven't considered melatonin. Maybe that is my missing piece. So then I would start to be thinking about melatonin. And the circadian rhythm, you know, I'd, I'd have to look at somebody's lifestyle, but really starting to look at that from the thirties and on.


So what is happening is like men are having low testosterone in their twenties and thirties. Women are going through perimenopause in their mid thirties. There, there, there's more PCOS, PMS, infertility, right? So all of these are. To me, indicators that there's a disruption through the endocrine circuit. So from that point forward, and this is also where, um, a practitioner could also do laboratory testing.


So through Dutch, as an example, Dutch testing, like cycle mapping, we'll look at melatonin levels. It'll look at estrogen, testosterone levels. So then somebody, a practitioner who's seasoned in. This way of assessing, they can look at the whole picture of the endocrine circuit and say, Oh, wow, your estrogen is low.


Your progesterone is in the tank. And so, you know, we know that progesterone is also important for healthy sleep and that starts to decline. Sometimes in women, it's declining even earlier. So I think that there's more here. Um, You know, you don't have to test melatonin to supplement with it, but I think if you've got a lot of chronic health conditions, and you're wanting to look at root cause, working with a practitioner, like a functional medicine practitioner, an integrative medicine practitioner, a naturopathic doctor, to get at the underbelly of like, What is going on?


Let's do the test and let's start to look at like how we can start to modify this with certain targeted therapeutic actives like an urban tone in or like other products like, you know, Maka as an adaptogen, like feminescence products. You know, there could be so many other things to start to bring


in. So well said.


And I appreciate you bringing in, we spoke to this topic of nuance. I think it is so, so important for as we're navigating and instead of just over supplementing or, you know, not really thinking critically or creating a team around us to really get at the root of if we do have a number of problems in this area or a change, a noted change as we age.


It's just so, so crucial to be mindful of all of those best practices that you spoke to. So really well said. Thank you. And I know people listening are going to want to know, well, how is she managing her sleep with all of this knowledge? So we do ask every person that comes on the podcast for questions around how they're managing their sleep so we can learn through your lifestyle.


And I'm sure this evolves and changes and but so what we can learn for where things are at right now. So our first question is, what does your nightly sleep routine look like at the moment? I'm sure you might be traveling or doing different things, but what might we see there?


I try to go off screen by 7 p.


m and if I'm on screen, um, I wear like I'm wearing blue light black and glasses now even through the day like just because I know I'll be on the computer a lot today. Yes. Um, but I have very, I, I've really tried to corral my work life so that I'm doing less during the night and if I am on the computer then I'm wearing glasses.


Um, I, I mentioned to you that I do time restricted feeding. So I try to. stop no later than six, but typically I'm done by between four and six. So I tailor that has made a huge impact for me. Huge. Uh, you know, because like even having something small, but I do a wet fast, meaning that I am still drinking liquids.


I don't stop everything. So I do that. And then, you know, I think that there's a mind body aspect here. So I've also been trained in yoga, mind, body arts, and, um, You know, you have to figure out, like, how do you wind down at night, because you could have, like, a very active, mentally charged template where you're just thinking through stuff.


Sometimes I, I use, um, hot bath, actually. So I love to use, um, Like, I just put a huge amount of, like, Himalayan crystal salt, like, the actual chunk salt into my bath. Yes. I take a I just do a soak. I'm not actually doing a bath. I'm just soaking. Yeah. And there's something about that relaxation of the warmth plus the water.


And we're dimming the lights at home. I must say, my husband is kind of tech and um, he's an acupuncturist and one of the things that he does is he's put in lighting in our home so we can adjust it to make it dim and colored. So we can make an orange light or a pink light at night. So our house looks totally different at night as we, um, start to wind down.


So I love that, but I've always been a morning person. I'm not a night person. So like by 9 p. m. I'm, I'm going down. I'm down, down, down. My husband is just the opposite. He starts to wake up. He's more of a musician at night and I can sleep through anything. So some people have asked me like, Oh my gosh, I'm not a morning person.


How do I make myself a morning person? That's actually something you can use melatonin supplementation for to reset your circadian rhythm. We see that with people with shift work. We see it with people with jet lag. That's how it's supposed to be used. Not so much like just to patch your sleep. It's supposed to be used for circadian rhythm.


So just naturally, I'm pretty good with my sleep. I always have been until I hit perimenopause, which it was like, Oh, goodness, now I need to bring in my three milligrams of urban tone in to help me and patch those evenings. Do a little bit more with detoxification. Make sure my bile is flowing. I've got, um, you know, just my diet's already pretty good and it has been for many years, but you know, just some tweaks supplementally is what I do.


Love that. No, that's clearly very thoughtful about your evenings. And I love your call out around both these downregulation practices that you can engage with and setting up your environment to support that kind of change in your behavior. Really, really brilliant. So important. And I love that you double kind of scored or underscored the piece around meal timing.


Just so, so huge. I mean, I know we've really been singing its praises, but I think it cannot be underestimated the difference that can make. So Really great points. The second question would be what does your morning sleep routine look like? And we put that in Eric Boats because making the argument that how you start your day can impact your sleep.


So what we see there.


Yeah, my cat, one of my cats is my alarm clock. Leilani is my kitty, one of my kitties who She's like just clockwork. I mean, talk about circadian rhythm. You know, if we want to know circadian rhythm, watch animals. Yeah. And that's why our dogs and cats are waking us up, because they are in tune with circadian rhythm.


Like the moment it gets a little bit light, Leilani is jumping on me. She's like meowing. So I never use an alarm clock. Never, never, never. Leilani is my alarm. So I get up at about 530 in the morning. Yeah. Um, and I do it slow. I do it at my own pace. Like I try to ease into the day rather than like jump into the day.


Like I don't wake up out of bed like, Oh, I'm ready. You know, I'm just, I ease out. I feed the cats. I, um, I also have So you're asking me personally, I have a large bean bag. It's a yoga bow and I just lay on it for a little bit. And sometimes I just kind of like, um, sometimes I do a little bit of like just gathering my thoughts and do a little bit of meditating and just kind of preparing for the day.


And then I. Go outside, just try to get a little bit of light exposure. Yeah. And then I vary my, um, I have a huge breakfast. Like, I am a huge breakfast eater. You are too?


Okay. It sounds like we have a lot of similar habits. I


mean, I've always been. Like, it's my natural rhythm. Like, if I just can stay and honor that, even when I travel.


Like, usually when you travel is when you go off. Yeah. And I need to stay on it. Like, morning is like a dinner for most people. Like, I just make a huge thing. I'm very hungry in the morning. I do do coffee. I do purity coffee. You know, I do like a really good conscious coffee, like one cup. That's it. Uh, and then I go for Either I'm doing like a 40 minute walk.


So I live in a very hilly rural area, so it's really beautiful outside. So I get light exposure from that as well as I get activity in and then I start my work day after


that. Amazing. I love that. That's so fantastic. And I love what you're pointing to around the meal timing piece because I think it's important for people to get to that.


Just because things have been a particular way for you doesn't mean that they'll always be that way and that applies to our metabolic timing and our meal timing. And I mean, I was one of these people, I don't know if you know my story, but I had gone through, I did everything not to do for my sleep for many, many years until I hit this like insomnia rock bottom and everything changed for me.


And, you know, that's kind of the genesis of sleep is a skill. And so on the other side of that, I mean, I used to wake up and fast and not eat and all these exact opposite now and you can train your meal timing to be aligned with these rhythms of nature and you clearly done and it sounds like you've always been really intuitively in tune with this.


So that's fantastic. And I think that's such a interesting we're seeing that there could be evidence for the fact that. By front loading that caloric intake, making a difference for our circadian health and all of that timing and also helping to support our hormonal cortisol pulse at the right times that we'd like to have them.


So you're really just touching on some really fundamentals. So thank you for that. And then the third question is, what might we see on your nightstand, and if you're traveling or what have you, it could be like proverbial nightstand or ambiance, gadgets, apps, supplements, anything that we might see in your environment.


Or maybe nothing, sometimes it's minimal.


I recently just stopped wearing my aura ring. I was wearing an aura ring for many, many months. And then I was like, Okay, I've got my rhythm. Like I know what, what it means to have a good night of sleep. So I don't feel that I, I just stopped wearing that. So that's no longer on my proverbial nightstand.


Right. Um, I don't read at night because I also feel like that's too stimulating. So I don't have like books. Yep. Um, It's actually quite just naked and basic and simple. I don't do a lot in the bedroom other than, you know, sleep and I don't use an alarm clock. You know, I, I'm a pretty boring, basic, uh, kind of person when it comes to that kind of stuff.


As far as apps, you know, one thing for fun, I don't use this anymore, but yeah. There is a light meter app that people can get to measure lux. Yeah, so you can, so if I travel, so this is where I get skewed. It's not at home, but when I travel and I'm starting to travel more. So sometimes I'll just use my light meter app just to look at the lux, look at the light in the room.


Because you know how sometimes in hotels, like there's just that one crack of light coming in the drapery, or the one crack of light coming up from underneath the door. Yeah. So just kind of getting a handle on that. That would be something I look at. But, um, sometimes I listen to binaural beats. Sure. You know, I listen to music.


Um, but I, my sleep latency is like between three to seven minutes. Like I'm just out. So I don't need a lot to kind of get me going. Although aura would say like, Oh, that's a signal. That's you're, you're stressed out. But I've always been just like, I could sleep anywhere. Like I could take a nap and just wake up in 15 minutes, you know?


And sometimes I don't, I know everybody feels differently about napping, but, um, yeah. Sometimes I need like a 15 to 20 minute power nap, like in a later afternoon, just on my yoga bowl, my big, um, You know, beanbag thing and just to like close my eyes, recalibrate, center, start again.


Same. No, it can be so, so transformative, such a tool to be able to utilize.


And I've spoken to so many people that have it like, oh, I could never nap, I could never do that. And I think that speaks to all of these things that you're pointing to, I think are so important because Transcribed One of the things that I think is so crucial and just benefit to in training our circadian rhythm is one of the things that we find is that you actually have, you end up with a nightstand that looks like your nightstand where you're not needing to do so many things to escort yourself to sleep.


You're not needing to force sleep, which we know often it's going to backfire anyway. So the kneading of the sound bath and the meditation and the, you know, just the deep breathing and all those things are wonderful, of course, and not to diminish them, but the trying, the efforting to sleep is often, we're almost like too late.


If that's the case, it's like, we got to look at the earlier part of the day. Right. I


agree. I agree. And not to say that, you know, I don't have my moments and premenopause was a big wakeup call for me in terms of like, Oh, my sleep is getting disrupted. I've never had this before. And then I had all this empathy and you know, another thing, Mollie is, um, my husband and I decided to get a new mattress like two years ago.


Okay. So, um, you know, if you think of like how often people, you know, how often do you replace your mattress, just being sure like your spinal needs, your structure needs are being met too. So that is also something that I think helped to add to more fitful sleep for, for me and for him. Uh, we have an air filter in the room, which I think is important, a healthy mattress, which, um, fits us both in terms of our structure and it's a non toxic non, you know, it's, it's an avocado mattress.


Sure. So, um, got one of those and, you know, just good healthy circulation of air in the bedroom, I just think is important. And I have two cats, so sometimes they get in the way of good healthy sleep, but you know, all in all what you're saying, it just makes a lot of sense. We have to personalize and there is a way to circumvent and alter our circadian rhythm When it's been overturned.


Like if somebody is a night owl and they say, well, I'm just born to a night owl. I can't do anything. You can't just like you have in your own life. You can reprogram your circadian rhythm like to fit nature's rhythm. I think people get frustrated though, especially when they say to me like, Oh, you know, I start my job when it's dark.


I get home when it's dark. I don't have a, I don't have a choice. I get home and I've got to make dinner and it's bright and I'm eating late. You know, we just have to think about all of these things like small ships that we can make and just do the best we can with what we


can the wise. Yes. Thank you for that.


And it's it's such an important call out to because there are so many considerations and special considerations for people that might have a schedule that's outside of the norm. And with that, that takes I think there's an argument to be made for that becomes even more paramount for this education and the things that you're doing to help people to understand the mechanics of sleep and circadian rhythm optimization so that they can have it work in their lifestyle.


So really, really wise. And then the last question would be what has made the biggest change to your sleep or said another way, maybe the biggest aha moment in managing your sleep. The eating.


I really have to come back to that because I've been, um, you know, right now it's, we're moving into summer and, um, I'm just noticing how, you know, we have more daylight and I have to be even more conscious about what time I'm eating.


And I mentioned travel, um, And I've also seen, I've worn a continuous glucose monitor before and I've seen like how when I sync up the CGM with my aura ring and what I have learned is how eating can be so bad for me when it's late, like it just makes for so much more disruption, even though I'm a pretty good sleeper, it just creates havoc and I really like food and so I just have to stay really disciplined to that.


But I feel like that for me personally has been the biggest thing.


Ah, huge. I love that you're pointing to this and I think we're just getting more and more research to back up that point and then more and more data from people. I, I appreciate you sharing too that it sounds like you utilize something like the Oura Ring and then found your flow and your rhythm and knew what works.


I found my flow, yeah. So helpful. So I really appreciate that. And then I would say the last thing is clearly people listening are going to want to know how can they get more of you. So what are the best steps to do


that? I have a website, DeannaMinick. com, and on the website, uh, everything is there. Blogs.


Um, a bit more science y blogs. I'm a bit of a nerd on that. Love it. You'll see my articles on there. Um, I have a resources page where you can download a bunch of things. In fact, I just uploaded something on cooking preparation. You know, inflammation, when people are inflamed, they don't sleep well. Yeah.


And so, um, one of the ways that they get inflammation into their everyday lives is just even by cooking their food. So I just recently put a download in there because we could take a healthy food and make it very inflammatory and this can impact sleep. So there is a food sleep connection as well. And that's why I keep coming back to it.


It's not just... Um, when you eat, it's also what you eat, which is why I mentioned the fiber eating the rainbow. So yeah, my website dianaminic. com. I mentioned a couple of things like symphonynaturalhealth. com where you can get that Herbitonin. Um, I mentioned some of the apps like Light Meter, I think that there's a nominal charge for that.


Um, yeah, but I would say, yeah, if anybody wants to reach out, you can contact me through my website dianaminic. com.


Oh, fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and your passion, and you're clearly living these things that you have learned and researched on. So thanks for being a demonstration of what's possible and really just appreciate the time.




you so much. A pleasure to have this conversation with you. I feel like we're on the same wavelength. We


totally are. 100%. Keep it up. You've been listening to the Sleep as a Skill podcast, the number one podcast for people who want to take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday, I send out something that I call Mollie's Monday Obsessions, containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep.


Head on over to sleepasaskill. com to sign up.


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