Melatonin is considered a magic bullet against sleep disorders. The sleep hormone plays a central role in our organism, controls the sleep-wake rhythm and also influences our health and well-being. But what is melatonin and what is it all about? Here you will find an overview of the meaning, tasks and functions of melatonin.
Table of contents
- What is melatonin?
- How melatonin is produced
- Consequences of a disturbed melatonin balance
- Melatonin as a dietary supplement
- Melatonin - The basis of good sleep
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is one of our body's hormones, which is formed in the brain and belongs to the so-called neurotransmitters. These are messenger substances that act as connection points in all nerve cells of the body by transporting important information and in this way regulate the metabolic processes in our body. A balanced hormone balance is therefore very important for the healthy functioning of our body.
The hormone melatonin is significantly involved in the control of our sleep-wake rhythm and is therefore also called the "sleep hormone". It interacts with cortisol, known as the "stress hormone", to regulate our circadian rhythm. Towards evening, the concentration of melatonin in the body increases, causing us to become tired, calm down and fall asleep. So, in order to get into a restful sleep without any difficulty, our body needs to produce enough melatonin and have enough time to relax. For tips on how to relax before sleep, check out this article. In addition to this important function for sleep and nightly regeneration, which are indispensable for our health, melatonin also influences our psyche and also has a strong antioxidant effect, which helps prevent cell damage.
How melatonin is produced
The conversion of the messenger substance serotonin into melatonin is one of the main tasks of the pineal gland (epiphysis), which is located in the centre of our brain. Its function is decisively influenced by light and darkness and thus also by the natural day-night rhythm. During the day, the body produces serotonin, which is known as the happiness hormone due to its relaxing and mood-lifting effect. Then, as darkness falls, serotonin begins to be converted into the sleep hormone melatonin. Between two and four o'clock at night, the melatonin concentration in our blood is at its highest - before it decreases again and is suppressed by the emerging daylight.
Consequences of a disturbed melatonin balance
The disruption of the body's melatonin production can ultimately lead to sleep disorders or problems falling asleep. If the important conversion in the evening is inhibited by unnatural light conditions, the body cannot produce enough melatonin and thus lacks clear signals to prepare for sleep. This happens easily nowadays, as we illuminate our rooms with artificial light sources, contrary to the natural darkness, or use screens such as TVs and smartphones until late at night. But also a time change, after a long journey for example, or working in shifts often cause our rhythm to get out of balance and our sleep is disturbed due to low melatonin levels.
By the way: Due to the usually few hours of daylight, the melatonin content in the blood also remains elevated during the day, especially in winter. This is the reason for the strong tiredness and listlessness in the cold season. Here you can find out how to stay fit through autumn and winter.
Melatonin as a food supplement
Nowadays, there are already numerous medications and supplements that supply the body with melatonin and in this way promote falling asleep and improve our sleep patterns. To support the body in a natural way there are two possibilities.
Direct support: Melatonin
Melatonin can be absorbed directly by our body, for example in the form of capsules or as a mouth spray. Studies show that you actually fall asleep faster after an additional intake of the sleep hormone. The recommended dose is 2 mg of melatonin per day, which is taken some time before bedtime, depending on the dosage form. This is a natural way to support fatigue and sleepiness by increasing melatonin levels and allowing the body to receive the important signals for sleep.
Indirect support: L-tryptophan
The happiness hormone serotonin is converted to melatonin when it is dark. For this reason, a healthy serotonin level is not only beneficial for our mood and well-being, but also an important prerequisite for melatonin production.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid and a basic building block of serotonin. The additional intake of L-tryptophan via a dietary supplement helps to provide the body with an important building block so that it can naturally produce sufficient serotonin and, in the next step, melatonin.
Melatonin - The foundation of good sleep
As you can see, melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, is an essential neurotransmitter that plays a truly pivotal role in our health. In order for us to fall asleep without any problems and support healthy sleep patterns, we should pay attention to our melatonin balance and ensure that the body can produce enough sleep hormones naturally.
Our tip: Dim the lights a few hours before going to bed and try to avoid bright screens and other light sources in the evening and especially at night. You can also make sure you eat a balanced diet and get enough daylight during the day. In this way, you will supply your body with sufficient L-tryptophan, promote light-induced serotonin formation and prepare it optimally for evening melatonin synthesis.
The sleep hormone melatonin is an endogenous messenger that regulates the sleep-wake rhythm and makes us tired and sleepy in the evening.
As darkness increases or light is absent, the happiness hormone serotonin is converted to melatonin in the brain
A low melatonin level promotes insomnia and problems falling asleep.
Melatonin supplements are well tolerated and can help you fall asleep.
L-tryptophan is a basic building block of serotonin and can positively influence melatonin production.
Support your sleep by getting daylight during the day to build serotonin, eating a balanced diet to supply your body with L-tryptophan and dimming the lights in the evening.
Best wishes and see you soon!