Updated: Jan 30
Insomnia or Sleeplessness is a disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life. Does this sound familiar?
The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is at least seven hours. Read on to know what could be responsible for your abnormal sleep-wake cycle and how you can make your nights more restful.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your body makes naturally. This hormone is also referred to as the hormone of darkness because the pineal gland produces higher levels in the dark. The lesser light enters your eyes, the more melatonin is secreted by your pineal gland into your bloodstream, and fluid around your brain and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, melatonin is not always produced in enough quantities in our bodies, this is known as melatonin deficiency, which could be because of numerous reasons. In this instance, you need to get it from your diet or as a dietary supplement.
Causes of Melatonin deficiency
As you grow older, your body secretes lesser melatonin levels.
Conditions like diabetes (type II), migraines, certain cancers, and dementia can lead to decreased melatonin secretion.
NOCTURNAL LIGHT EXPOSURE
As already mentioned, melatonin is predominantly secreted at night or in the dark. That means keeping the light on at night (yes, even the blue lights from your screens!) can significantly reduce the amount of melatonin produced in your body.
Consequences of Melatonin deficiency + Benefits of Melatonin
TACKLES INSOMNIA AND CIRCADIAN RHYTHM SLEEP DISORDER
One of the most common uses of melatonin supplements is as a sleep aid. The other name for melatonin is the sleep hormone. If you have difficulties falling asleep early, or you fall asleep early but then wake up earlier than desired, or have jet lag symptoms, melatonin supplements may be the miracle your body craves. Recent research studies reveal that melatonin supplements are relatively safer than sleeping pills. It helps to treat short-term sleep disorders like jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome, and advanced sleep phase, with minimal side effects.
A research study on postmenopausal women revealed that after 24 weeks of taking a melatonin supplement, not only did their sleep quality improve but there was significant weight loss in these women. This result is because Low-dose melatonin supplements, together with physical activity have proven to help in weight regulation by increasing metabolism.
STRESS REDUCTION AND MOOD IMPROVEMENT
Another benefit of taking melatonin supplement is that it has proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood. A study conducted in 2017 showed that melatonin increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brains of animals. GABA is a substance that reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the blood, thereby increasing calmness and decreasing blood pressure and heart rate.
IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTIONING
You can also take a melatonin supplement to improve memory and increase brain function without detrimental effects.