Everything in our body follows a routine set within itself. The activity levels during the daytime, followed by the inclination to rest when night falls, and are all regulated by the body’s internal clock.
This internal clock is also termed as the body’s circadian rhythm. The hormone, which keeps this biological clock working in its regular sequence, is called ‘melatonin’. Another popular term used for melatonin is ‘Sleep hormone’. This is because it keeps the human sleep cycle in sync, and tells the body when it is time to go to bed.
The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, (SCN), or the brain center, send an indication to a pair of deeply-seated pineal glands. On receiving this signal, these glands begin secreting køb melatonin which in turn, induces the human body to go to sleep.
When do these glands produce melatonin?
The SCN sends the signals for hormone production when dusk sets in. These glands produce melatonin throughout the night, till sunrise. In a way, this signal prepares our body to rest at nightfall.
Isn’t melatonin secreted during the day?
Daytime melatonin secretion is almost negligible. In other words, sunlight impedes melatonin secretion. In fact, this is one of the reasons why, melatonin is widely called, the ‘Vampire Hormone’.
How does one enhance melatonin secretion during the night?
The reduction of light levels aggravates melatonin secretion. Therefore, while sleeping at night, it is advisable to keep curtains drawn. Also, minimal exposure to electronic usages and bright lights help boost melatonin secretion.
What disrupts melatonin levels?
Disruption of melatonin circulation in the human bloodstream is attributed mainly to the hectic work schedules that individuals have today. The other factors that affect melatonin secretion are:
- Imbalanced diet and absence of regular exercise.
- Changing work shifts particularly frequent night shifts.
- Time zone transitions due to flight travel for long distances.
Apart from these, levels of melatonin also get reduced due to age. That is, melatonin circulation goes down after an individual ages beyond forty.
Are there any melatonin supplements that can help deal with its deficiency?
These supplements are popular melatonin sleep aids. These can help ease jet lag or stress due to changing work shifts.
But, people taking these supplements must bear in mind that, they aren’t conventional sleeping pills. They restore the body’s circadian rhythm. Therefore, low doses of such supplements are the safest. Recommended dosages and timings for various conditions are as follows:
- Sleep disorders: 0.3 milligrams – 5 milligrams for up to nine months since induction.
- Disrupted slumber cycle due to shift changes: 2 to 12 milligrams, for up to four weeks.
- Age-related sleep disruptions: 2-12 milligrams for 29 weeks at most.
- Jet lag: 0.5-8 milligrams on the night of arrival at the destination. The intake must continue till jet lag eases.
People looking for melatonin supplements must keep in mind that timing is a crucial checkpoint. The human body must produce the hormone naturally. Therefore, one must never take melatonin supplements during the day or late in the evening.
Melatonin helps the bodies stay in sync with natural schedules. Hence it must work naturally. Artificial ingestion must be under proper medical supervision. It is best to follow a regulated healthy lifestyle to keep the circulation of natural melatonin intact.