What is the sleep hormone?
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the epiphysis( a pineal body located in the brain).Melatonin is involved in the synchronization of biorhythms( which is why it is called the "sleep hormone"), and also complex affects the hormonal and immune systems of the body.
The change of time zones during air travel, prolonged daytime sleep, sleepless nights or even a random time for going to sleep can disrupt the circadian rhythms of the body, causing insomnia. Reception of melatonin in the form of tablets promotes normalization of sleep cycles( 1).
Is it difficult to wake up in the morning? Constantly bad mood and energy decline? You have a seasonal depression!
Melatonin and biorhythms
The periods of sleep and wakefulness in a person alternate with a cyclic periodicity depending on external conditions, the most significant of which is light. In the evening, the body begins to produce melatonin, thus preparing for a transition to sleep.
Since during the sleep the body regains its
strength and normalizes the work of various systems( from the nervous to the muscle), the insufficient secretion of melatonin affects both a significant deterioration in the depth and quality of sleep, and overall well-being.
The strongest antioxidant
Scientific research suggests that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger( 2).During sleep, the hormone penetrates into all tissues and organs of the body, successfully neutralizing the destructive effects of oxidative processes.
Since the main functions of the antioxidant effect of melatonin are directed to DNA protection, the hormone is a complex protection against aging. It is the age-related decrease in melatonin secretion that directly worsens the skin and makes the internal organs more decrepit.
Lack of melatonin and depression
In addition to melatonin, the epiphysis also produces serotonin, called the hormone of happiness. Deficiency of serotonin leads to the development of depression, slowing down the processes of thinking and a marked deterioration in mood. Lack of serotonin is treated with the use of antidepressants.
It is important that melatonin is synthesized directly from serotonin. The lack of melatonin as if makes the body choose what is more important - a normal sleep cycle or a good mood. Often, both functions are affected, leading to complex problems( 3).
Melatonin production rhythms
Melatonin concentration in the blood has a noticeable circadian rhythm associated with light day. The maximum values of the hormone are observed between midnight and 5 o'clock in the morning - this period accounts for up to 70% of the total melatonin production by the body( approximately 20-30 μg).
Bright white light stops the secretion of melatonin, and the use of electronic devices with a glowing screen disrupts the rhythms of sleep, causing the brain to believe that it's daytime. If you are suffering from insomnia, do not use the smartphone and TV for 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Recommendations for the control of insomnia and snoring. In what position do you need to sleep - on your side, on your stomach or on your back?
Old age medicine
Scientific experiments show that the lack of melatonin in animals leads to acceleration of aging processes - menopause is manifested earlier, free radicals begin to damage cells more, insulin sensitivity decreases, obesity and cancer develop( 4).
To prevent early aging, it is important to fight insomnia, maintain good sleep quality and a healthy level of melatonin in the blood. That is why at the age of 45-50 years doctors recommend to many of their patients the reception of additional melatonin in the form of tablets.
Melatonin in tablets
Knowledge of the chemical formula of melatonin allows it to be released as tablets. In this case, since the substance is not a medicine, it is referred to the category of food additives. Melatonin in tablets is available for over-the-counter sales in almost all countries of the world.
When buying additives with melatonin, pay attention to the dose of the active substance - start with 1 mg, switching to 5 or 10 mg only in case of ineffectiveness of smaller doses. Melatonin is taken 10-15 minutes before bedtime, while in bed and avoiding exposure to bright light.
In addition to the fact that melatonin normalizes sleep biorhythms disturbed by flights or night work, this hormone plays a crucial role in combating premature aging, increases the body's immune functions and positively affects the prevention of depression.
Melatonin, source Will Melatonin Reduce Your Testosterone Levels? , source Melatonin counteracts alterations in oxidative metabolism and cell viability induced by intracellular calcium overload in human leucocytes: changes with age, source WebMD: Melatonin, side effects,source