Based on a true story.
Those five words carry a lot of weight. When any film or show starts with that phrase, you clench that popcorn bucket a little tighter knowing some wild stuff is about to go down. While the following story isn’t as exciting as rescuing hostages by scouting a location for a fake movie, nor as enthralling as a climber saving his own life via self-amputation, it is true. And although I am being paid to write this, I speak from the heart when I say that the revelation I had no more than a month ago was, to me, as shocking and real as it was habit-changing. This is the story of how my reliance on the presumed “natural sleep aid” melatonin sabotaged my sleep habits.
Claim your FREE Sample Pack
Try to imagine you’re in the dusty, dimly lit basement of a church, sitting in a folding chair. The chair is one of many, all of which are arranged in a circle and have people with noticeable bags under their eyes sitting in them. Their faces are puffy from lack of sleep, and one who looks to be a man in his late 20s with a tall, thin frame, brown eyes, and a complementary mop of curly brown hair reluctantly speaks.
“Hi. My name is Curt Chapkowski, and I am an insomniac. I’ve been using melatonin to help me sleep for as long as I can remember.”
Okay, so this part of the story didn’t actually happen. Neither “Insomniacs Anonymous” nor the “12 Step Melatonin-Free Program” exist, but this scenario does accurately describe how I’ve felt at least a couple of times per week for the last 9-ish years. And it all began when I started grad school In Richmond, VA.
Grad school was by far the most stressful period of my life. All of my professors were either former or current accomplished advertising folk with real knacks for being as hard on the work as they were on the students’ psyches. To say it was 730 days of advertising career boot camp would be a massive understatement. Throughout my time in Richmond studying to be a copywriter, I had my work ripped to shreds both metaphorically and literally on a weekly basis. Many of my classmates cried in class, some quit the program altogether, and two even threatened to sue the school for a variety of reasons. (All par for the course, though, from what I had heard before enrolling. And it was a good school.) Needless to say, it was brutal, and my overall well-being suffered as a result.
“Alex, I’ll take ‘The Least Shocking Thing I’ve Heard All Day’ for 400.”
“Tough professors, spending tons of money, constantly worrying about 100 different school-related things, and asking yourself ‘am I smart enough to be here’ all cause this common ailment.”
“What is ‘Utter Sleeplessness’?”
That’s correct. From day one back in August of 2013, the stresses of finding a good job after graduation and maintaining a high enough GPA to stay in the program had my mind racing (for what felt like) all night every night. That coupled with staring at a screen all day, the sheer volume of work to do, and the pressure put on us to be great had me sleeping terribly (and many nights, not at all). So I did what any sensible grad student would do: turn to Google. “Best sleep aid for adults, natural sleep aid, deep sleep, REM sleep, what are the stages of REM, stay asleep longer, fall asleep faster…” You name it, I searched for it on my quest for rest. And to be honest, I got lazy poring over the results and science behind the litany of synthetic and natural sleep aid options available to me. As you may have guessed, that’s when I turned to the over-the-counter supplement melatonin.
According to the minimal research I had done, I learned that your body naturally produces melatonin every night to help you wind down and go to sleep. “Hmm, it is naturally occurring… Supposed to be non-habit forming… What could go wrong?” I thought. Needless to say, I was in for a rude awakening in my pursuit of deep sleep. I figured that since the human body makes this stuff, it would be the answer to all my sleep-related problems to just take more of it. And for a while, it was. Sure, I felt groggy many, many mornings, but I was FINALLY able to forget the stresses of grad school, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer! But then, after a few months, the efficacy of the melatonin drastically (and tragically) declined, and yet I continued to pop those little lavender “wonders” like they were candy. I felt like I could no longer achieve REM sleep without the help of external doses of melatonin, and I was very obviously using it as a crutch. More exercise and hydration didn’t work. Less screen time before bed didn’t work. I’ve never wanted to spend money on a (presumably expensive) sleep study. I knew deep down that this was an issue, but I didn’t realize just how big of an issue it was until just a few weeks ago.
Fast forward thousands of melatonin pills later from the early fall of 2013 to the mid-fall of 2022. I had just signed a contract to write for SummaForte, and it was orientation day. As is the case with any new job at a new company, there was a walkthrough of their products (and the science behind them).
That, my friends, was when I had the nauseating realization that I had been self-sabotaging my sleep regimen for nearly a DECADE.
I watched my monitor in silent horror as the founders detailed the benefits of SummaRest – one of their flagship CBD products that promote REM sleep – in addition to the perils of prolonged melatonin use. Things like headaches. Grogginess. Short-term depression. Stomach cramps. Dizziness. Irritability. I had experienced ALL of these symptoms at some point in recent memory, and all this time I thought they were just… me. So by the time, the founders of SummaForte told me that over-the-counter melatonin has been banned in the U.K. for a while now, it made perfect sense. “Why on earth is the FDA letting pharmacies sell this stuff to anyone, and without a prescription!?” I asked myself. I then proceeded to quit melatonin cold turkey that very same day. Immediately following my decision, I asked myself another question, “now what?”
The answer to that question was (and is) SummaRest.
For me, at least.
Admittedly, I was skeptical, as any consumer of any new product should be. (I probably should have been that skeptical of melatonin when I first discovered it to be honest, but I digress.) A natural way to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer? “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I said. The founders’ pitch had won me over to the point where I knew I had to at least give SummaRest a chance, anyway. The science behind how valerian root extract and SummaRest’s proprietary blend of cannabinoids work together to naturally manage both sleep onset latency and sleep disturbance with one pill had me intrigued. Plus, the fact that SummaRest was “designed to work within minutes” – and I usually found myself failing to fall asleep for hours – was huge. Given that melatonin was now out of the picture and SummaRest was also backed by some of the world’s sharpest minds, Harvard degrees and all, I had nothing to lose and only the chance of finally getting some sleep to gain.
I ordered the SummaRest and it arrived within a week. It was time for night one.
After an average day of sitting at my desk for about eight hours followed by a short run and an hour and a half of TV, I brushed my teeth, took two capsules, and got in bed. No one can tell you precisely how long it takes them to fall asleep, but I can tell you that on that particular night, it didn’t take me long at all. When I woke up, I felt like I’d had probably the best night’s sleep since I had taken NyQuil for a cold a few months prior. I was stunned to find that the groggy feeling I had grown so accustomed to with melatonin wasn’t really there. It was honestly so… weird! It felt like something was off, when in fact I was just feeling legitimately good for the first time in a very long time. The next night I took two capsules at bedtime after a pretty strenuous upper body workout and woke up on day three elated to find that I had again gotten some legitimately good, deep sleep. So after a sample size of two nights, I decided to work it into my nightly routine a few nights per week. The rest is history.
Admittedly, I am not an extreme athlete like my Ironman contestant cohort Russell Newell. However, I do like to stay active by playing a ton of golf and pickleball every week and spending upwards of six hours a day staring at a screen during my day job. (Obviously not strenuous on your body, but strenuous for your eyes and brain.) Since I’ve started using SummaRest to ensure I get more of that sweet, sweet REM sleep, I’ve experienced a noticeable improvement in focus on the course, slightly better reflexes on the court, and way less tossing and turning during the night, even after working late and going right to sleep afterward. Now at this point in the article, you might be saying to yourself, “pfft, this guy’s getting paid to write this, of course, he’s going to hype the product up!”
And you’d be correct.
I have two things to say about that. 1.) If you find yourself taking melatonin every. Single. Night. Like I was, you owe it to yourself, your mind, and your body to just try SummaRest to see if it can break the vicious, unhealthy cycle you are, and I was, in. And 2.), I cannot legally promise you that SummaRest will cure your insomnia. If I did, I might mysteriously vanish, courtesy of our legal team (and maybe some concrete shoes). I can, however, say with certainty that SummaRest is a natural sleep aid that has brought my nightly sleep routine to a MUCH better place than it was with melatonin, and it genuinely works for me. Hopefully, it will work for you too.
Now go get some rest, you deserve it. That thing was a NOVEL!