What I call back-end insomnia , when you wake up way too early, is not as maddening as front-end insomnia, but it can be quite debilitating.
I keep beside my bed a bottle of sublingual melatonin spray and spray some under my tongue when I wake up too early. Directions say "allow to remain for 30 seconds and swish before swallowing." Some of the liquid melatonin can be absorbed into your bloodstream under your tongue, bypassing the long route that goes through your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, and thereby reaching your brain in a hurry. Unquestionably it has helped me achieve far greater success in falling back asleep after premature awakenings. I have no doubt that part of the effect is psychological rather than physiological; the knowledge that I've done something to help me sleep more undoubtedly gives me peace and helps me to relax and fall back asleep.
Melatonin is a hormone the human body produces. It is a powerful antioxidant and immune-booster, but promoting sleep is no doubt its most important role. When a human consumes protein, a small fraction of that protein is the amino acid l-tryptophan. Several things can happen to tryptophan. If your body is in need of Vitamin B-3 (niacin), it may convert tryptophan to niacin. Hopefully tryptophan gets converted in sufficient quantity to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which in turn is converted into the well-known anti-depressant neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). Serotonin is converted to an obscure metabolite known as n-acetyl-serotonin. N-acetyl-serotonin is converted to the hormone melatonin.
In the 1990s when melatonin became available over the counter it received tremendous criticism from the usual suspects, doctors and scientists who are wedded to allopathic medicine in which reliance upon artificial pharmaceutical drugs is preferred. The chief objection I recall is that taking supplemental melatonin would cause the body to shut down its own production of melatonin. The analogy in mind no doubt was to anabolic steroids. But huge numbers of people all over the world have taken melatonin and a vast amount of research on supplemental melatonin has been done. The hypothesized depleting effect has not shown up, and supplemental melatonin is now the object of very little controversy, and the dosage range used has gotten larger.
I use NutraSpray Melatonin by Source Naturals, a very reputable supplement company. You can view its page on the website where I buy it : http://www.vitacost.com/Source-Naturals-NutraSpray-Melatonin. It costs $6.38 for a bottle with approximately 80 sprays. Each spray has 1.5 mg time released Melatonin and 1.5 mg Vitamin B-6. It has as a sweetener vegetable glycerine, which does not cause tooth decay.
Another product I have used with success is Melatonin Lipoceutical Spray by Nature's Plus, another very reputable company. It is theoretically superior to NutraSpray. Each spray contains 1.5 mg Melatonin, 2.5 mg Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (a more absorption-ready form of Vitamin B-6), 2.5 mg of the inhibitory (sedative) neurotransmitter GABA, 1 IU Vitamin E, and trace amounts of lecithin. It is also sweetened with vegetable glycerine. "This power-packed profile is then microencapsulated, using the Lipoceutical(R)* delivery system for maximum absorption and utilization." Concerning the lipoceutical delivery system elsewhere it is said : " Liposomes are highly complex microscopic liquid spheres, 1/50th the diameter of a human hair. They encapsulate water and the chosen active ingredient inside a highly purified lecithin membrane. The liposome traps the nutrient in multiple layers and unravels like an onion, releasing the nutrient over an extended period of time. Carrying a nutrient within a liposome also makes it more lipophilic- enhancing the nutrient's bioavailability dramatically. The liposomes are delivered under the tongue, via a sublingual oral spray, known as a Lipoceutical. This method delivers the majority of the nutrient directly through the mucosal membrane, so a greater amount of the nutrient reaches the bloodstream."
Nature's Plus Melatonin Lipoceutical Spray costs $8.84 at luckyvitamin.com with various bulk price discounts extending to $8.49 per dozen bottles. I have found the less expensive Nutraspray just as effective, so I go with it, but if NutraSpray doesn't work for you I would suggest giving the Nature's Plus product a try. In fact I would suggest trying the more sophisticated Nature's Plus spray first, and if it works then you can see if the NutraSpray works just as well.
I also keep at my bedside a 14 1/2 mm / 5 1/2 inch flashlight. This is very important, because turning on the overhead light is a sure way to kill your chances of falling back asleep. So when I wake up prematurely, I grab for my little flashlight, turn it on, get the melatonin spray, spray it under my tongue, put the cap back on, and then go back to sleep.
You can call your doctor's office, ask to speak to the nurse, tell her you're planning on using melatonin, and ask if they see any problems with that.
Here is the caution on the Source Naturals bottle : Warning: USE ONLY AT BEDTIME. For adult use only. Not for use by children, teenagers, or pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are under medical supervision, or have an autoimmune disease, diabetes, a depressive disorder, a thyroid condition, epilepsy, leukemia, or a lymphoproliferative disorder, or are taking MAO inhibitor drugs or corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone or prednisone, consult with your physician before taking this product.
The caution on the Nature's Plus bottle : NOTICE: For adult use only. Melatonin should not be used except with a physician’s advice in the following conditions - pregnancy, lactation, serious illness, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, depression, endocrine disorders or during use of antidepressants or other prescription medications. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while using.
If melatonin spray doesn't work for you, 5-HTP spray is available. When I have time, I'll write a story on what I take before going to bed. A product I have not tried that I think could be very good for both falling asleep and staying asleep is Dreaminol by Nature's Plus. Its page is http://www.naturesplus.com/products/sf.asp?criteria=sf&sf=2
Additional note : on the Vitacost. com home page you have easy access to Health Notes, which is an extremely valuable database on natural products, the best one I know of online. I recommend that everybody bookmark it. It's available on multiple websites, including Swanson and Vitamin Shoppe.
If any of this information helps you, please come back and post a comment!