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Melatonin: This Is How Important The Sleep Hormone Is To Your Body

The sleep hormone melatonin is released in the dark and ensures that you get tired and get a sound sleep. But it regulates the day-night rhythm and takes on other essential tasks in the body.

Why do you get tired in the evening and lively in the morning? Why do many warm to hibernation in the dark season? And why does a long-haul trip confuse the body and health?

Many of these questions have to do with one of the body’s hormones, which can also be supplied artificially – melatonin.


What Is Melatonin, And How Does It Work?

Melatonin is a neurohormone produced in the body in the digestive tract, but mainly in a part of our diencephalon – namely in the pineal gland.

It is produced from serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, whose precursor is L-tryptophan, which is approved in medicinal products to treat sleep disorders.

When it gets dark, melatonin is released directly into the blood in ever higher doses and thus regulates the day-night rhythm of our body – the so-called circadian rhythm.

But the work of our kidneys and blood pressure is also influenced by the melatonin level.

Production starts at around 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and the pineal gland reaches its peak in the middle of the night between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

After that, the distribution is gradually reduced again to wake up in the morning as relaxed as possible and start the day fresh.

The escapement takes place between 8 and 9 a.m. However, this information varies individually and according to the season.

Melatonin As A Sleep Aid

The older you get, the less the hormone made in the pineal gland. This is one of the reasons why older people suffer more from insomnia.

In some countries, people over 55 years of age can take melatonin as a sleeping aid – with a prescription. What should you always talk to your doctor about and obtain a professional opinion?

However, these drugs are only intended for short-term treatment to quickly get current sleep disorders under control.

What Forms Of Melatonin Are There?

Prescription Supplements

They contain their active ingredient in retarded form – this means that the effect does not occur immediately after ingestion, but rather the supplied melatonin unfolds its effect for hours and thus suggests to the body that it is natural melatonin.

Because melatonin has a relatively short half-life of less than an hour in the body, it is quickly broken down by the body.

With the delayed release, however, a reduced melatonin level can be brought back relatively evenly to its average level – the falling asleep and sleep quality improve and normalize in the best case.

However, it can take a few days before the first positive effects can be noticed.

Food supplements

Freely available melatonin in food supplements is usually released quickly – that means: without long-term effects and with a “climax” after approx. 60 minutes. If you don’t want to use tablets or capsules, you can also spray.

However, this melatonin can also positively affect sleep disorders, at least in the short term.

In some countries, melatonin products declared as dietary supplements are available without a prescription. But only because the legal situation is currently controversial.

Because melatonin-containing products with an active content of fewer than 0.3 milligrams of melatonin do not come under the prescription requirement and are also available in drug stores, among other things.

However, since some manufacturers of melatonin preparations went to court with the argument that such a high melatonin content can also be obtained through the consumption of certain foods, which is why a prescription is not permitted, we currently still have over-the-counter preparations in stores.

Ingestion And Dosage

Melatonin is recommended for older people who have difficulty falling asleep, but only after consulting a doctor and following a prescription.

However, pregnant women and nursing mothers should not take melatonin. Interactions with other drugs cannot be ruled out, for example, when taking antidepressants.

Allergy sufferers should refrain from taking additional melatonin or consult a doctor beforehand.

Clinical preparations usually contain a dosage of 2 milligrams per unit. Food supplements typically contain doses of less than 0.3 milligrams.

However, the problem here is that a high dose of melatonin can be achieved by taking a high amount of dietary supplements as can be achieved by taking prescription drugs.

Side Effects Of Melatonin

It is a powerful ingredient that can have undesirable side effects – symptoms can include headaches, back pain, and joint pain.

However, it usually takes two to three months for such effects to occur, so at least in this regard, there is nothing against taking melatonin for a short period against sleep disorders if your doctor prescribes melatonin for you.

This Is How Your Body Produces More Melatonin

If you don’t want to resort to preparations, you can use a few tricks to help your body produce more of the sleep hormone:

Avoid Too Much Light In The Evening

If you bathe your apartment in bright light in the evening and watch your laptop, smartphone, or TV until you go to bed, you mess up your internal clock, and you tend to mutate into a night owl.

Even if you get to bed on time, but there is too much light in your bedroom through the windows or from chargers, stand-by lights, and similar sources, your  balance will be disrupted, and you will not sleep as deeply in the dark.

Therefore try to expose yourself to less and less light in the course of the evening and to immerse your bedroom in absolute darkness.

Fill Up With Daylight

The pineal gland is also not a fan of shift work, especially night work. If you have trouble falling asleep, you should also soak up as much daylight as possible during the day and spend evening and night in the most significant potential darkness so that your rhythm can regulate itself again.

Optimize Bedtimes

If you want quality sleep, you should go to bed early. The best rest is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In the morning. Since the most efficient release of hormones occurs during this period, the melatonin concentration is also the highest.

Are You Getting Melatonin With Food?

Many foods do not contain this but do contain tryptophan, which is often the trigger for a good night’s sleep.

Tryptophan is involved in protein biosynthesis, among other things, and is the only source for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and, as a result, melatonin.

The conversion of tryptophan to serotonin takes place in the central nervous system. If you are in a dark room, the body converts serotonin into melatonin.

The targeted consumption of tryptophan-rich foods can support the production of serotonin and thus guarantee the conversion into melatonin – hello, restful sleep.

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