Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body that regulates the circadian rhythm, your so-called internal clock. Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone because high levels of melatonin help you fall asleep easier. Melatonin signals your body that it's nighttime, helping you fall asleep better and more easily. However, the sleep hormone melatonin is not only responsible for sound sleep, it also represents an important factor for our well-being.
An overview of the sleep hormone melatonin
Melatonin is produced primarily in the pineal gland in the brain, but is also found in other areas, such as the eyes, bone marrow, and also in your gut. The pineal gland is connected to the eye by a number of nerves. When light falls on your retina during the day, these nerves transmit information to your pineal gland, suppressing the production of melatonin. As soon as it gets dark, your body produces the sleep hormone melatonin.
This means that when your circadian rhythm is working well, you have a low melatonin level during the day and at night when it is dark, it is at its highest level. According to studies, the melatonin concentration peaks in the middle of the night and slowly drops in the second half of the night. The exact peak, however, depends on your lifestyle and age.
The effects and benefits of melatonin
Melatonin works with your internal clock. It lets our body know when it's time to wake up, go to sleep, and even eat. Melatonin also helps in regulating your body temperature, blood pressure and numerous hormones. The sleep hormone binds receptors in the body and helps you unwind. It does this, for example, by binding to receptors in your brain, reducing nerve activity. Therefore, melatonin has several benefits and positive effects. We have summarized the most important ones for you:
1. Better sleep and reduced time to fall asleep
First studies found evidence that taking melatonin before bedtime may help people fall asleep more efficiently. In 19 studies, people reported that falling asleep time was significantly shortened, and participants reported a notable improvement in the quality of their sleep.
In addition, melatonin may help with jet lag and temporary sleep disturbance. For example, some studies examined the effects of melatonin in people who traveled through five or more time zones. The scientists found that melatonin effectively reduced the effects of jet lag.
2. Antioxidant effect and anti-inflammatory properties
Antioxidants protect our cells from free radicals. When too many free radicals are active in our body, it causes oxidative stress and damage to the cells. We often read about numerous vitamins and plant compounds, such as blueberries (anthocyanins), that are able to protect our cells.
But our body also produces antioxidants on its own, such as melatonin. However, melatonin is not only a powerful antioxidant, it also activates certain receptors that boost the production of other antioxidants. This prevents inflammation in your body. Too much oxidative stress results in damage to cells and the result is an immune response that can cause chronic inflammation. Lack of sleep may also encourage the development of inflammation, because the pineal gland is part of a network that connects the nervous system and the immune system. Therefore, melatonin also plays a crucial role and has anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Anti-aging effect through the neutralization of free radicals
A strong trigger for ageing is increased oxidative stress. Through the already described neutralization of free radicals, premature aging may be inhibited.
Melatonin is therefore an important part that can help relieve your body in the long run and eliminate damaged cells. As a matter of course, melatonin is not a panacea, but just one integral part of an important system. The combination of adequate sleep and melatonin represent a viable approach towards anti-aging.
4. Effect on the digestive system
Research on our gut has been progressing at an outstanding rate in recent years. The function of melatonin in the gut has also increasingly come to the forefront of research. Science is still in its infancy here, but it has been found that the melatonin concentration in your intestines is much higher than in the pineal gland. This is because melatonin is not only formed there, but is also produced in the intestines using L-tryptophan.
In the gut, melatonin is involved in the regulation of various functions. It has an influence on the contraction of the intestinal muscles and also on the sensation of pain. Therefore, it also plays a role in, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Melatonin therefore even has an influence on the control of the gastrointestinal tract.
Melatonin in Food Supplements
Due to the numerous benefits and positive effects of melatonin, the question remains whether you can support your body by taking melatonin through food supplements in order to benefit from these benefits.
For melatonin, as a food supplement, there are health claims approved by the European Food Safety Authority:
- Melatonin helps shorten the time it takes to fall asleep
- Melatonin helps alleviate the subjective sensation of jet lag
The correct dosage of melatonin
It is important that you pay attention to the correct dosage of melatonin in food supplements. The health claims may only be used if the supplement contains 0.5 mg to 1 mg of melatonin per specified serving. It may be freely distributed in the European Union up to a dosage of 1mg.
It is essential that you pay attention to particularly high quality. Because we at NOUMEN are convinced of the positive effect of melatonin, the sleep hormone, we have added 1 mg of it to our NOUMEN Sleepcare Supplement.
How you can optimize your melatonin production naturally?
Besides taking melatonin through supplements, you can also improve your melatonin production through your lifestyle.
We have 3 tips for you:
1. 🌞 Get enough sunlight and no artificial light before going to bed
Enough daylight increases your serotonin level, the precursor of melatonin. If you have plenty of it in your blood, this is the perfect condition for sufficient levels of melatonin in the evening. Try not to use any electronic devices before going to bed, because blue light has a mood-lifting effect and is counterproductive for fatigue.
💡 How about taking a short walk during your lunch break? Make sure to use the night mode on your devices to inhibit blue light?
2. 😴 Regulated bedtimes
Whether it's during the week or on the weekend, if you go to bed at roughly the same time every day and get up at the same time, you'll find it much easier to start the day fully energized. Your inner clock does not have to distinguish between weekends and working days. Regularity is the most important factor!
💡 Try to listen to your inner clock on the weekend and go to sleep when you are tired. Wake up without an alarm clock and don't pay attention to time, but get up when you feel rested and refreshed.
3. 💆 Relaxing Evening Routines
Letting your body know when it's time to mentally wind down through routines helps you relax your body and mind. By having a distinct evening routine that always starts at the same time, you give your body the signal to unwind.
💡In order to establish a new routine, it is important that you stay consistent and start with small steps. A helpful measure could be the so-called Habit Loop.