Melatonin is a natural hormone predominantly produced by your body’s pineal gland which is a pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain. Our body’s internal clock also known as the circadian rhythm influences how much melatonin the pineal gland produces.
When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood, usually at dusk. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert as sleepiness and fatigue creeps in.
Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated throughout the night, until daylight when they fall back to low levels. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.
In addition to controlling the circadian rhythm, melatonin may provide a number of health and other benefits, including:
The level of melatonin in our bodies depends on a number of environmental factors. Primarily, it is affected by light, including the “blue” light of our phones, tablets and computer screens but other factors such as certain foods can affect our melatonin levels.
We can prepare our minds and body for a good night sleep. If we keep the lights low, and put away our mobile phones or tables and computers 45 minutes before sleep, it will help us to relax our body and mind, and in turn stimulate the pineal gland to release melatonin.
Foods with a raised level of tryptophan such as tomatoes, walnuts, strawberries, barley, cherries, olives, rice, and cow’s milk contain melatonin. When consuming these foods, our bodies absorb melatonin and upon absorption, we start feeling tranquil and sluggish.
If you have a sleeping problem or a sleeping disorder caused by your lifestyle choices that disturbed the circadian rhythm, you can find melatonin supplements in drugstores or chemists and health food stores.
If you are considering using melatonin supplements, you should consider melatonin’s side effects and their interactions with other drugs / medications.
Also, did you know that no other synthetic hormone is available in the United States without a prescription? Because melatonin is contained naturally in some foods mentioned above, the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement (e.g., vitamins and minerals). These do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or controlled in the same way as drugs/medications.
Because it is not categorized as a drug, synthetic melatonin is made in factories that are not regulated by the FDA. Listed doses may not be controlled or accurate, meaning the amount of melatonin in a pill you take may not be the amount listed on the package. Most commercial products are offered at dosages that cause melatonin levels in the blood to rise to much higher levels than are naturally produced in the body. Taking a typical dose (1 to 3 mg) may elevate your blood melatonin levels to 1 to 20 times normal.
Based on the above information and your own research, you should ask yourselves what is a better choice, melatonin supplements or a natural melatonin solution?
Enough sleep and regular physical exercise are essential for our health. Although everyone recognises this, it is not well known that the two activities influence each other.
In our latest blog we will explain how to get the most out of these two essential activities.