How to Sleep Better with Melatonin

How to Sleep Better with Melatonin

By Dayna Dye, Certified Medical Assistant

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

It’s 3 AM, and you’ve been wide awake for hours…sound familiar? Problems falling asleep are all too common, but fortunately, there’s a chemical that we all produce naturally that can help.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain's pineal gland from serotonin, and it has long been thought of as the “sleep hormone.” The pineal gland, named for its pinecone shape, releases melatonin in response to darkness, thereby playing a role in the body’s circadian rhythm.

Healthy circadian rhythms are essential in helping us get the sleep we need. And research has shown melatonin has a host of other benefits as well.

What are the benefits of melatonin?

Handsome man stretching

Melatonin is most widely known for its ability to help people fall asleep.

And while melatonin supports restful and refreshing slumber, its effects are mild enough that if you decide it’s not quite bedtime yet, you can change your mind and stay awake.

Melatonin’s sleep support serves as a foundation for its other health benefits, such as support for healthy blood pressure, immune system health and brain health.

 

Melatonin may help prevent cancer

Melatonin's ability to help regulate the body's circadian rhythm appears to be a significant mechanism involved in its association with the prevention of cancers linked to night shift work.1 Melatonin has also been found to help fight the progression of breast, gastrointestinal, prostate, bone and kidney cancer, as well as melanoma.2

 

Melatonin has anti-aging properties

Healthy couple dancing

As we get older, it’s common to have a harder time sleeping—that’s because melatonin's production by the pineal gland declines with aging. Yet, melatonin may not only help relieve conditions that are associated with aging, but might help slow the aging process itself. Research has shown melatonin activates sirtuins—proteins that have been associated with longevity.3 Melatonin also has been shown to protect the brain against oxidative stress and the neurodegeneration that occurs with aging.4

 

Melatonin rejuvenates immune system function

In addition to protecting against inadequate sleep, which has a well-documented negative impact on immune health, melatonin provides vital immune support by helping coordinate immune responses to a wide variety of threats, including viruses.5-7 So when internal production of melatonin drops with age, it leaves the immune system weakened.8

During this process, called immune senescence, disease risks rise because the immune system stops eliminating abnormalities properly.5,8-9 Thus supplementing with melatonin may be useful to enhance immunity.

Better sleep is calling

happy couple waking

As research shows, a lack of sleep causes problems beyond simple fatigue or reduced endurance.10 Inadequate sleep can increase hunger and food consumption—which contributes to weight gain—and make us more susceptible to stress and anxiety. It’s even associated with fine lines and wrinkles!11-18

So don’t spend your nighttime hours tossing, turning and waking to an alarm with a profound feeling of fatigue. Support your body’s sleep hormone and achieve better health today.

 

References:

  1. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2013 Oct;25(5):499-510.
  2. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2013 Dec;17(12):1483-96.
  3. Mech Ageing Dev. 2015 Mar 27;146-148C:28-41.
  4. Gutierrez-Cuesta J, Sureda FX, Romeu M, et al. Chronic administration of melatonin reduces cerebral injury biomarkers in SAMP8. J Pineal Res. 2007;42(4):394-402.
  5. Srinivasan V, Pandi-Perumal SR, Brzezinski A, et al. Melatonin, immune function and cancer. Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2011 May;5(2):109-23.
  6. Yoo YM, Jang SK, Kim GH, et al. Pharmacological advantages of melatonin in immunosenescence by improving activity of T lymphocytes. J Biomed Res. 2016 Jul;30(4):314-21.
  7. Carrillo-Vico A, Lardone PJ, Alvarez-Sanchez N, et al. Melatonin: buffering the immune system. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr 22;14(4):8638-83.
  8. Espino J, Pariente JA, Rodriguez AB. Oxidative stress and immunosenescence: therapeutic effects of melatonin. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:670294.
  9. Gruver AL, Hudson LL, Sempowski GD. Immunosenescence of ageing. J Pathol. 2007 Jan;211(2):144-56.
  10. Oliver SJ, Costa RJ, Laing SJ, et al. One night of sleep deprivation decreases treadmill endurance performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009;107(2):155-61.
  11. Spivey A. Lose sleep, gain weight: another piece of the obesity puzzle. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118(1):A28-33.
  12. Hibi M, Kubota C, Mizuno T, et al. Effect of shortened sleep on energy expenditure, core body temperature, and appetite: a human randomised crossover trial. Sci Rep. 2017;7:39640.
  13. Sundelin T, Lekander M, Kecklund G, et al. Cues of fatigue: effects of sleep deprivation on facial appearance. Sleep. 2013;36(9):1355-60.
  14. Sukegawa T, Itoga M, Seno H, et al. Sleep disturbances and depression in the elderly in Japan. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2003;57(3):265-70.
  15. Hall M, Buysse DJ, Nowell PD, et al. Symptoms of stress and depression as correlates of sleep in primary insomnia. Psychosom Med. 2000;62(2):227-30.
  16. Vollrath M, Wicki W, Angst J. The Zurich study. VIII. Insomnia: association with depression, anxiety, somatic syndromes, and course of insomnia. Eur Arch Psychiatry Neurol Sci. 1989;239(2):113-24.
  17. McEwen BS, Karatsoreos IN. Sleep Deprivation and Circadian Disruption: Stress, Allostasis, and Allostatic Load. Sleep Med Clin. 2015;10(1):1-10.
  18. Sanford LD, Suchecki D, Meerlo P. Stress, arousal, and sleep. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;25:379-410.