10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Sleep Hormone: Melatonin

Health Articles
August 26, 2014

Having trouble sleeping at night, but don’t know why? Check out these 10 facts about melatonin.

1. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the brain that is responsible for regulating sleep cycles.
2. Melatonin is often considered to be the body’s natural pacemaker. It plays an instrumental role in signaling time of day and time of year, helping to regulate your body’s internal clock.
3. To adjust the body’s internal clock and fall asleep more easily, many people take melatonin supplements in pill form. This is especially common among; shift workers (people with irregular hours), when experiencing jetlag, insomniacs and blind people.
4. Blue light: Melatonin’s arch nemesis. Studies have shown that blue light emitted by screens (TV, computer, phone etc.) suppresses melatonin levels making it more difficult to fall asleep. Red light: Melatonin’s best friend. Red lights are the least likely to suppress melatonin levels and shift circadian rhythms. This makes red light a perfect option for before bed lights and nightlights.
5. Just as different types of light affect melatonin levels, so too are melatonin levels affected by varying degrees of light. Light sensitive receptors in our brains trigger the hormones responsible for melatonin secretion. Because these light sensitive receptors in our brain play such a vital role in melatonin regulation, blind people must often take melatonin supplements to regulate the body’s level of melatonin.

6. We’ve stressed before the importance of regulating your sleep schedule and trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Melatonin levels begin to increase approximately two hours before a person goes to sleep, so keeping a rigid sleep schedule will aid in the regularity of melatonin secretion.
7. Melatonin plays a role in regulating the female menstruation cycle. It is responsible to regulating the hormones that affect the onset, frequency and duration of menstruation cycles, including the onset of menstruation later in life
8. Melatonin is also helpful for children with developmental disabilities such as ADHD, and autism.
9. Though melatonin supplements help people to fall asleep more easily, they do not help people to sleep more soundly or regularly throughout the night.
10. We mentioned that melatonin levels increase just before bed and begin to suppress as a person wakes up. Cortisol, a stress hormone operates on the opposite cycle, decreasing just before bed and increasing as a person wakes up. If a person is experiencing higher levels of stress, these two hormones will become misaligned causing a noticeable decline in sleep quality.
As with any sleep, dietary, or other supplement, be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes.