Melatonin: We reveal all the secrets of the “Sleep Hormone”

Melatonin: We reveal all the secrets of the “Sleep Hormone”

Do you suffer from sleep disorders? If the answer is yes and you are looking for solutions, let us tell you about a natural remedy that can outshine any sleep medication your doctor might prescribe. Perhaps you are a fan of “grandma’s apothecary” and are familiar with the so-called “sleep hormone”. If not, in just a few minutes you will be.

Melatonin is the most natural solution to sleep disorders. Sleep is crucial for health and for maintaining vitality. Did you know that one in three adults do not sleep regularly?

Melatonin supplements have become the perfect allies in the fight against sleep disorders, insomnia and the popular “jet lag”, but the benefits of melatonin go far beyond that. Recent research has shown it to be an effective supplement in the fight against cancer, particularly breast and prostate cancer.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the hormone everyone is talking about.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin for headaches

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. But don’t be fooled! It only takes effect when the body has enough of it.

The good news is that your organism produces it naturally. The bad news is that caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and night shifts can all mess with your body’s melatonin levels. To counteract its harmful effects, there is nothing like taking melatonin supplements to help you normalise your sleep patterns.

Responding to the formulation N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine is a pea-sized hormone secreted into the brain by the pineal gland, located in this important organ.

We have already mentioned that your body produces it naturally, but its intake via food or supplementation is in demand. In fact, its consumption continues the “in crescendo” trend of recent years.

Why? There is no other natural substance that offers similar benefits in terms of regulating biological rhythms. In short, melatonin plays a fundamental role in the natural sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin plays a key role

At night, their levels increase

As soon as the sun goes down, melatonin is activated. This is because its blood levels are highest at night. Research suggests that melatonin supplements, if taken at the right time (before bedtime), may be among the most useful in treating jet lag and other sleep disorders involving circadian rhythm imbalances.

Have you ever heard that melatonin is the “hormone of darkness”? Yes, you see, this popular hormone goes by many names, and this one, of course, is no coincidence.

Darkness stimulates the synthesis and release of melatonin, while light suppresses it, and here’s a fun fact: other organs in the body, such as the stomach, also produce melatonin.

Thanks to melatonin, the body maintains its biorhythm. But what is a biorhythm? It is nothing more and nothing less than the “biological clock” that makes sure you fall asleep and wake up, so it is an “internal clock” whose hands cannot stop working.

Benefits of the sleep hormone

The benefits of this incredible sleep supplement are undeniable and partly answer the question of what melatonin is for.

Not surprisingly, this hormone affects sleep and the circadian rhythm. We have already mentioned that the circadian rhythm is a kind of “clock” for the body, controlling biological processes on an approximate 24-hour cycle.

But if you think that the benefits of melatonin stop there, let us tell you that you are very mistaken, because this substance is a real “box of surprises” which, once opened, unfolds a host of therapeutic properties, each one more interesting and beneficial to your health.

Strengthens the Immune System

Here are the main functions of melatonin in the body!

  • It affects the circadian rhythm
  • It promotes sleep
  • It supports the immune system
  • It aids eye function
  • It reduces oxidative stress
  • It has a positive influence on female reproductive hormones.
  • It protects against radiation
  • It controls numerous cellular processes, including the synthesis of key molecules

Apart from the fact that it is certainly good for sleeping there are other benefits of this formidable hormone that will not leave you indifferent, ranging from promoting the production of “growth hormone” to fighting cancer, including its powerful antioxidant action, protection of the mitochondria, promotion of the digestive system, treatment of mental disorders, insomnia, anxiety and depression, and its role in the fight against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, among many others.

Find out more about these benefits in the detailed post we have prepared on the subject.

What is Melatonin?

You can buy the best natural sleep products, such as melatonin.

Why does its deficiency occur?

The reasons that may lead your body to secrete insufficient melatonin, which interferes with night-time sleep or causes sleep problems, can vary widely.

Take note of the main ones!
  • Ageing. As you get older, your body produces less melatonin, as the pineal gland tends to calcify. This means that the quality and duration of sleep decreases. As a result, around 40% of older people often complain of nocturnal disturbances ranging from insomnia itself to an inability to fall asleep, as well as reduced sleep quality.
  • Exposure to electric light and blue light from screens of mobile devices, computers or TVs can reduce their release. Avoid light sources in the bedroom, including those from standby electrical appliance light points.
  • Night shifts cause these workers to have problems sleeping during the day, as the pineal gland does not secrete enough melatonin in the morning.
  • Cloistering oneself in dark spaces or sleeping too many hours can alter the circadian cycle and, consequently, the secretion of this substance.
  • The consumption of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine also leads to a reduced release of melatonin.
  • The intake of certain drugs, especially beta-blockers, cortisone and ASA also reduces their release.
  • The suffering of certain pathologies such as autism or Addison’s disease leads to a reduction in the release of the above-mentioned.
  • Intense sports at night and continuous stress are other factors that reduce its release.
  • Serotonin deficiency can lead to decreased melatonin formation.

Melatonin-based supplements

Are you thinking about taking melatonin? The first thing you should know is that it is a supplement that is completely safe for your health and that you can buy it in capsules, tablets, drops or sublingual tablets.

Can melatonin overdose occur? As with any other dietary supplement or medication, it is possible to take an excessive amount. Avoid this by sticking to the dosage recommended by doctors and experts who recommend taking no more than 10 milligrams a day, although recommendations may vary from person to person.

Listen to your doctor

You should also pay attention to the instructions for the specific product. For your information, melatonin tablets are the most commonly used format, especially tablets that dissolve under the tongue and are quickly absorbed by the body.

Currently, the recommended daily dosage for sleep will depend on age and type of treatment, but typically ranges between 0.5 and 10 mg per day. Remember that, in sensitive people, lower doses are more effective.

And how is it related to sport?

Are you an athlete? If so, you may be interested to know that one of its main benefits for those who practise sport is its antioxidant properties. Training requires a higher metabolic utilisation of oxygen, which promotes pro-oxidant responses.

Melatonin’s composition makes it a formidable protective shield against oxidative damage induced by intense exercise. As well as being found in the pineal gland, it is concentrated in other organs such as the retina, intestine, bile and immune cells, exerting an antioxidant function that counteracts oxidative stress in these organs.

Melatonin also protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, thus fulfilling an anti-ageing function. Its regulation also helps to prevent feelings of fatigue, sleepiness, chronic tiredness and lack of energy.

The importance of sleep for health is undeniable. Together with the right training and the proper nutrition, you can keep yourself in good physical shape. It is based on the premise that the quality of your rest not only helps you to recover the energy you need, but also to ensure that the processes your body carries out while you sleep are performed as intended.

While you sleep, your heart works less hard and benefits from “growth hormone” and “sleep hormone”.

Melatonin for Adults

Sport contributes to a better mood and to the production of melatonin. In conclusion, it is a tandem that works.

How to increase its level, more info here!

When you expose your body to artificial light at night you disrupt its natural production of melatonin, something you should avoid at all costs for your health, especially since this hormone plays a crucial role in preventing cancer and strengthening the immune system. A hormone that displays its many benefits at night and increasingly enjoys a well-deserved position as an aid to sleep and the prevention and treatment of disease.

In the last century, industrialised countries have made repeated attempts to lengthen the working day and reduce night time in order to gain productivity, but light pollution from modern technology has a serious biological effect on humans.

Light pollution and temperature are among the factors that make it difficult to rest.

Take note of these 10 tips to improve the quality of your sleep and help you optimise melatonin production!
  1. Avoid watching TV or using mobile devices at least one hour before bedtime.
  2. Make sure you are regularly exposed to the sun.
  3. Sleep in complete darkness or at least as dark as possible.
  4. In case you need a night light, use a low wattage, orange or red bulb.
  5. Keep your bedroom temperature no higher than 21 degrees Celsius.
  6. Take a warm bath before going to bed.
  7. Avoid loud alarm clocks.
  8. Sunbathe in the morning as soon as possible.
  9. Pay attention to electromagnetic fields in your bedroom.
  10. Take melatonin food supplements in your preferred format.

Are there foods that produce this hormone?

The amino acid tryptophan is converted into serotonin, and once night falls, the pineal gland converts serotonin into melatonin. Foods rich in tryptophan help to increase serotonin levels.

You will find the highest levels of tryptophan in milk and dairy products, seafood, soya, meat, peanuts, and eggs. Ingesting carbohydrates in conjunction with tryptophan increases the melatonin-producing properties.

Tryptophan is not just any substance, but one that helps control anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is part of a coenzyme essential for melatonin synthesis. B5 shares some of its best sources with tryptophan, including milk, yoghurt, eggs and fish, notably tuna and cod. Other sources include broccoli, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and lentils.

Foods with Melatonin

Thus, the ranking of the best foods to promote the production of melatonin is headed by:

  • Nuts (especially walnuts and almonds)
  • Fruits (especially bananas, cherries and tomatoes)
  • Milk
  • Cereals (rice, oats and corn)

Foods rich in Melatonin

Find out what foods to eat if you want to sleep well here.

Jet Lag, another factor to consider

Are you familiar with jet lag? This phenomenon, which you have most likely experienced and often hear about in the news, refers to a temporary sleep disturbance suffered by people who travel by plane and cross different time zones.

The reason for this is none other than the slow adaptation of your body’s “internal clock” to the target time, which results in your rest and wakefulness being out of sync with the new environment.

If you suffer from jet lag, melatonin can help restore your sleep-wake cycle.

Jet lag and melatonin

But jet lag is just one of the factors responsible for lower levels of this hormone! Some others have already been mentioned in this post, such as the dreaded schedule changes or tedious night shifts.

A scientific evaluation of a large number of studies on melatonin and jet lag shows that melatonin is highly effective in preventing or reducing jet lag in air travellers who may see its effects diminished by simply taking an occasional short-term intake.

Melatonin at different stages

Do you think melatonin production declines with age? If so, you’re right. We are going to dedicate this section to tell you about the impact of this hormone on your body as you get older.

What about sleep in old age?

The effects of melatonin-based “sleeping pills” have been extensively studied in people over the age of 65. We have confirmed that melatonin can offer multiple benefits to elderly people suffering from sleep disorders.

The explanation is very simple: melatonin production begins to drop as the years go by. Who hasn’t heard their grandparents say that they are getting up earlier and earlier?

This also explains why there are studies referring to melatonin as an anti-ageing supplement, as your doctor can tell you.

Although it is inevitable that older people will suffer from the side effects of melatonin, particularly morning drowsiness, they also get more benefits to their lives. In any case, they are always recommended to take a low dose, between 0.1 and 0.3 mg, rather than higher doses.

Melatonin lives up to the saying that “less is more”, as it has been found to be more effective in small amounts and to cause fewer problems.

Melatonin and Menopause: an unbeatable team

Women, needless to say, also suffer the ravages of insomnia during the menopause. Well, it has been shown that melatonin supplements can help to improve the sleep disturbances that occur during this period.

Menopause and Melatonin

A study conducted in perimenopausal and menopausal women, aged between 42 and 62 years, found a striking improvement in mood and a significant reduction in depression in most of them, following a daily dose of melatonin for six months.

Such a study suggests that melatonin supplementation in perimenopausal and menopausal women restores hormone regulation, along with pituitary and thyroid function.

Therefore, the result of this study could not be more positive, concluding that melatonin can reduce bothersome symptoms of menopause along with the sleep problems experienced during this stage.

Here are their best combinations

When planning how to take melatonin, if nutritional supplements are your thing, you will already know that when you combine them, the results are even better! Because combinations of supplements are synergistic and boost benefits to the maximum.

What can you combine melatonin with? Well, this hormone combines perfectly with sleep supplements, promoting stress control, reducing anxiety and fostering a state of calm and well-being.

Are you looking for a restful sleep? Then, combine melatonin with…

  • ZMA
  • L-Theanine
  • 5-HTP

This is all the information we have prepared for you about melatonin. A comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about a hormone that is unrivalled for helping you fall asleep. If you have any further questions before you start taking it, let us know and we will answer them as soon as possible. Can you tell that melatonin keeps us active??

Studies and bibliographical references

  1. 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  3. Bubenik GA. Localization, physiological significance and possible clinical implication of gastrointestinal melatonin. Biol Signals Recept. 2001; 10: 350-366.
  4. Sourav Mukherjee, el Kumar Maitra. Gut Melatonin in Vertebrates: Chronobiology and Physiology. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2015; 6: 112. Published online 2015 Jul 22. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2015.00112
  5. Melatonin and sleep. National Sleep Foundation.
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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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