Melatonin Has The Wow Factor
Most people know melatonin as the hormone that helps us sleep, and very few of us need convincing that sleep is extremely important when it comes to our health and well-being. In fact along with regular formed bowel movements, sleep, length and quality is at the top of the list for anyone interested in health! Melatonin’s role is very important, and there may be a lot you don’t know about this wonder hormone.
How Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin is produced in the brain by the pineal gland, it’s production increases in response to darkness and is suppressed in response to light. So when light is received by receptors in the back of your eyes, a message is sent to the pineal gland to suppress production of melatonin. So if you want melatonin you need to sleep in darkness. As we age circulating melatonin decreases.
Studies show that melatonin improves the quality of our sleep, making us sleep quicker, feel sleepier and keep us sleeping for longer. This is why melatonin is often used as a sleeping tablet, and in most countries it is available over the counter, but in Australia a prescription is required. Melatonin supplementation is often used to assist with jet lag. Melatonin gets us to sleep quicker and has us sleeping longer.
Its An ANTIOXIDANT!
Melatonin is an antioxidant, protecting against free radical damage and stimulating several antioxidative enzymes. Melatonin crosses the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, it protects both membrane lipids and DNA from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage plays a key role in ageing and many diseases.
Melatonin and The GUT
Melatonin interacts and stimulates hormones which protect the digestive tract cells and improves blood flow. You might be very excited to know that studies have shown that treatment with melatonin reduces the extent of the lesions that can result from using, non steroid anti inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), melatonin protects the mucosa. Its a promising therapy for IBS, and can be considered for prevention or treatment of colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis and gastric ulcers.
Melatonin, BREAST CANCER And The Immune System
Melatonin specifically blocks estrogen induced proliferation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Studies show that higher melatonin levels (measured in a first morning urine) reduce the risk of breast cancer. The evidence supports both a role in prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Melatonin plays a role as an immune regulator. It also enhances immune function in aged individuals and in those who are immunocompromised.
Melatonin And Bone
Melatonin inhibits both bone breakdown as well as bone formation. It impairs the development of osteopenia, this may be due to its antioxidant effect.
And There’s More……
Other areas where melatonin may be useful is Alzheimers disease, dementia, reproductive function and fat metabolism.
Wrapping Up Melatonin
A really important take home message is to try to ensure that you produce normal amounts of melatonin night after night. A big factor effecting the production of melatonin is a lack of darkness while sleeping, and in this day and age sleeping with TV’s, phones, alarms etc has never seen melatonin more at risk of healthy production! If you are having trouble sleeping and you have put into practice, all sleep hygiene tips or you are still working on them, then you may want to consider melatonin supplementation for a time to help you out (remember a prescription is needed in Australia).
So remove the electronics, pull the blinds, close the curtains and have a great NIGHT’S SLEEP 🙂