Melatonin is a natural occurring hormone made by the pineal gland which helps in many of the regulatory processes of the body, including regulation of glandular secretory functions related to the maintenance of normal sleep/wake cycles and aspects of immune system function.
It’s no wonder why melatonin is often called the sleep hormone. It is a hormone produced by a pea-sized gland in the middle of your brain called the pineal gland.
Its chief responsibility is regulating your body’s circadian rhythm, your body’s sleep-wake cycle, to regulate your natural sleep pattern. This affects your entire body.
Sleeping, staying asleep, and feeling well-rested can be adversely affected by a lack of melatonin in your blood. In addition to improving sleep, melatonin also regulates blood pressure, cortisol levels, and the efficiency of the immune system.
Its inadequacies can affect your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and hormones that make you feel hungry, making it difficult to manage your weight.
Aside from that, some studies have found that it can profoundly affect many health conditions due to its antioxidant properties.
How important is sleep?
It is extremely important for your health to get a good night's sleep. In fact, it's equally important as eating a balanced, nutritious diet and exercising. There are many negative health effects associated with lack of sleep, including an increased risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, inflammation, and sickness. For these reasons, most experts recommend getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Lack of sleep can even be hazardous to your health and the health of others, so ensuring that you prioritize and protect your sleep is crucial.
When we are tired, it is much harder for us to focus on tasks, react quickly, and respond to stimuli. The effects of severe sleep deprivation are similar to those of excessive alcohol consumption.
A striking statistic is that 1 in 25 drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel while driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falling asleep while driving was most common among drivers who slept less than six hours. One study suggests that your risk of a car accident increases significantly with each hour of lost sleep.
Additionally, since lack of sleep can seriously affect your ability to make critical decisions, it increases the risk of workplace injuries and mistakes. In reality, then, everyone's safety depends on getting proper sleep.
What can affect how much melatonin you produce and release each night? Researchers believe that older adults are more likely to experience occasional sleep disruptions due to reduced melatonin levels.
Children usually have much higher levels of melatonin than adults. As you grow older, your levels tend to decrease. It is not just older individuals who produce less melatonin but also pre- and post-menopausal women.
Now is the time to prioritize sleep in the same way you prioritize diet and exercise.
How does Melatonin work?
Melatonin signals to your body that it's time for sleep by acting on the MT1 and MT2 receptors in your brain. Therefore, it communicates the length of the night and the timing to your body.
Numerous studies have shown melatonin to:
• Make you feel sleepy
• Assist you in falling asleep faster
• Sleep for longer periods of time
• Improve your sleep quality
• Boost your morning alertness
• Minimize daytime fatigue
Ways sleep can affect your body:
1. Supports heart health
The quality and duration of your sleep may increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Moreover, short sleep seems to increase the risk of high blood pressure, especially in people with obstructive sleep apnea, or stop-start breathing while sleeping.
According to one study, people who sleep less than 5 hours per night have a 61% higher risk of developing high blood pressure than those who sleep 7 hours.
2. Influences emotions and relationships
Sleep deprivation may reduce your social abilities and ability to process emotions. When you are sleep-deprived, it is difficult to control your emotions and maintain healthy interactions with other people.
Our emotional outbursts and our behavior in front of others can be challenging to manage when we're tired. We may also be less able to appreciate humor and show empathy when we are fatigued.
In addition, people who are chronically sleep-deprived are more likely to withdraw from social gatherings and feel lonely.
Socializing and improving your relationships may start with getting enough sleep.
3. Inflammation is linked to poor sleeping patterns
There is a big link between sleep disturbances and inflammation. In fact, Inflammation in the body can be exacerbated by poor sleep. The effects of this can increase your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's.
The regulation of our central nervous system depends on sleep. Particularly, it's involved in the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system, which are known as stress response systems.
When you lose sleep or have disturbed sleep, inflammation signaling pathways are activated and inflammation markers are elevated.
4. Weight Control
Several studies have linked sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night to weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI).
Interestingly, a 2020 analysis found an increased risk of obesity of 41% among adults sleeping less than 7 hours per night. Numerous factors, including hormones and motivation, influence sleep's impact on weight gain.
5. A lack of sleep can lead to depression
Poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders are strongly linked to mental health concerns, such as depression.
According to one study that was conducted among over 2600 participants, sleep scores were generally lower among participants with anxiety and depression than among those without.
Similarly, statistics show people with obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia report higher rates of depression than those without.
6. Immune system support
Immune function can be deeply impaired by a lack of sleep. Sleeping at least 7 hours a night can boost your immunity and help you fight viruses such as the common cold.
It has been suggested that proper sleep may also enhance the effectiveness of vaccines by improving your body's antibody responses.
7. Improves athletic performance
Several studies have shown that sleep enhances athletic performance.
The benefits of adequate sleep include improving fine motor skills, reflexes, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cognitive ability.
Furthermore, lack of sleep increases your risk of injury and lowers your motivation to exercise.
Therefore, if you want to improve your performance, get enough sleep.
8. Enhances focus and productivity
Brain function depends on sleep in many ways.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects cognitive performance, concentration, productivity, and performance
Specifically, a study on overworked physicians provides an example. Researchers found that doctors with moderate, high, and very high sleep-related impairments were 54%, 96%, and 97% more likely to report serious medical errors.
Lastly, adequate sleep is associated with better problem-solving skills and enhanced memory in both children and adults.
Are you getting good sleep?
Interestingly, you don't even have to experience sleep deprivation night after night to experience the negative effects. Studies have shown that a single night of insufficient sleep reduces our ability to function by more than 30% the following day.
To function at its best, your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food. Sleep allows your body to heal and restore its chemical balance. New connections are formed in your brain and increased your ability to retain memory as a result.
Your brain and body won't function normally if you don't get enough sleep. As a result, your quality of life can be dramatically reduced.
In 2010, research reviewed by Trusted Source indicated that a lack of sleep increases the risk of early death.
Signs that you may not be getting enough restful sleep:
• Changes in mood, such as feelings of stress or irritation
• Waking up feeling unrefreshed
• Feeling tired and lacking energy during the day
• Problems with focus, memory, and thinking
• Being more accident prone
• Poor decision-making
• Unexpected weight gain
• During inactivity, you may fall asleep
When you sleep deeply, your brain cells shrink by about 60% so that certain substances can be washed away including toxins, harmful waste proteins, and metabolic wastes.
The benefits of deep sleep also extend to strengthening your immune system. During sleep, your immune system forms memories of previous attacks, allowing it to respond more quickly and effectively in the future.
Sleep plays an important role in gene expression, hormone regulation, brain detoxification, and memory formation, making it a bad idea to skimp on sleep.