Melatonin is the sleep hormone, produced naturally by the body and regulating the circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced by the brain’s pineal gland. The sleep hormone regulates the body’s biological clock, so the body ‘knows’ when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in cellular recovery.
Melatonin secretion begins to decline with age, so stimulating this hormone should be encouraged through healthy diet and habits.Melatonin production begins to increase as light penetrating the retina decreases. This explains why the sleep hormone peaks at night and decreases at dawn. The sleep hormone evolves from the first 3-4 months of life, remains constant in adulthood, and then declines or stops evolving altogether in old age.
Melatonin, the ”youth hormone” vital for body functions
The sleep hormone influences growth hormone (HGH) which plays an important role in cell regeneration and muscle growth. Due to its antioxidant properties, melatonin is beneficial to the whole body. Studies have shown that melatonin blocks stomach acid, relieving symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease such as heartburn and nausea.
Furthermore, the cytoprotective properties of sleep hormone may have significant implications in treating glaucoma or other eye conditions. Low melatonin production indirectly affects health. Insomnia or disturbed rest schedules lower the body’s resistance to disease. With age, it is recommended to supplement melatonin secretion through dietary supplements and an appropriate diet.
How can you boost your sleep hormone naturally?
First, give up blue light screens at least an hour before you go to sleep.
Relaxation therapies without blue light
Take a warm bath, have a massage or read half an hour of your favourite book. You can combine relaxation habits for a superlative rest. A minimum of 20 minutes in a Japanese Fujiiryoki massage chair, a playlist of ambient music in the background and reading a few pages of your favourite book provides the ultimate comfort for quality sleep. Complete your relaxation routine with aromatherapy. Opt for candles and essential oils based on patchouli, lavender, cinnamon, sandalwood or lemon or green tea extract.
Set up a pre-sleep routine that helps you get quality rest. Thus, the last meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before sleep. Select melatonin-rich foods and eat them in the evening. For example, a cup of warm milk provides the body with the necessary amount of tryptophan which increases serotonin and melatonin production. Cherries are among the most melatonin-rich foods.
Potassium and magnesium in bananas encourage melatonin production. Oatmeal contains magnesium and tryptophan which regulate melatonin. Pistachios help convert tryptophan into the sleep hormone. Walnuts, almonds or cashews are also powerful sources of melatonin. Tomatoes, goji berries and ginger are excellent sources of melatonin. Be careful, however, to consume them 2-3 hours before bedtime. Fruit, cheese and meat are hard for the body to process.
Using light intelligently
Exposure to sunlight gives the body more serotonin. This hormone in turn boosts the natural production of melatonin. So find an activity that keeps you outside as much as possible. Take a so-called ‘sun bath’. In the morning, before you start your normal activities, sit in the sun for 10 minutes.
Drawn curtains or ambient light
Melatonin is also called the ‘dark hormone’. Lack of light influences melatonin secretion. Light perceived by the retina is transmitted to the site where the circadian rhythm is perceived, i.e. in the hypothalamus, then to the epiphysis where melatonin secretion is blocked. If you can’t fall asleep with the curtains drawn, then use a warm-brightness bedside lamp.
Balancing melatonin secretion is essential for a healthy body. Too little melatonin in the body promotes insomnia, weakens immunity and makes us prone to autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, too much melatonin encourages daytime sleepiness, reduces energy levels, productivity and concentration.