The sleep hormone melatonin
Melatonin is considered a silver bullet against sleep disorders. The sleep hormone plays a central role in our organism, controls the sleep-wake cycle and also influences our health and well-being. But what is melatonin anyway and what is the sleep hormone all about? You can get an overview of the importance, tasks and functions of melatonin here.
Table of Contents
- What is melatonin?
- This is how melatonin is produced
- Consequences of a disturbed melatonin balance
- Melatonin as a dietary supplement
- Melatonin - the basis of good sleep
1. What is melatonin?
Melatonin is one of our endogenous hormones, which is formed in the brain and is one of the so-called neurotransmitters. These are messenger substances that act as connecting points in all nerve cells in the body by transporting important information and in this way regulating the metabolic processes in our body. A balanced hormone balance is therefore very important for the healthy functioning of our body.
The hormone melatonin plays a key role in controlling our sleep-wake cycle and is therefore also referred to as the "sleep hormone". In interaction with cortisol, known as the "stress hormone", it regulates our circadian rhythm. Towards the evening, the concentration of melatonin in the body increases and causes us to become tired, calm down and fall asleep. So in order to get a restful sleep without difficulty, our body must produce enough melatonin and have enough time to relax. For tips on how to relax before bed, see this article. In addition to this important function for sleep and nocturnal regeneration, which are indispensable for our health, melatonin also influences our psyche and also has a strong antioxidant effect, which helps to prevent cell damage.
2. This is how melatoninis formed
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 center of our brain. Their 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-enhancing effect. With increasing darkness, the conversion of serotonin into the sleep hormone melatonin begins. The concentration of melatonin in our blood is at its highest between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. – before it decreases again and is suppressed by the emerging daylight.
3. Consequences of a disturbed melatonin balance
The disruption of the body's own melatonin production can ultimately lead to sleep disorders or problems falling asleep. If the important conversion is inhibited in the evening by unnatural light conditions, the body cannot produce enough melatonin and it therefore lacks clear signals to prepare for sleep. This is easy to do nowadays, because we illuminate our rooms with artificial light sources to counteract the natural darkness or use screens such as televisions and smartphones until late at night. But also a time change, for example after a long journey, or working in shifts often means that our rhythm gets out of balance and our sleep is disturbed due to the low melatonin level.
By the way: Due to the usually few hours of daylight, the melatonin content in the blood remains elevated during the day, especially in winter. This is how severe tiredness and lack of drive develop in the cold season. Here you can find out how to stay fit through autumn and winter.
4. Melatonin as a dietary 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. There are two ways to support the body naturally.
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 1 to 2 mg melatonin per day, which, depending on the dosage form, is taken some time before going to bed. In this way, tiredness and sleepiness can be supported in a natural way, since the melatonin level is increased and the body can receive the important signals for sleep.
Indirect support: L-tryptophan
The happiness hormone serotonin is converted to melatonin in the 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 building block of serotonin. The additional intake of L-tryptophan via a dietary supplement helps the body provide an important building block so that it can naturally produce enough serotonin and, in the next step, melatonin.
5. Melatonin - The basis of good sleep
As you can see, melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, is an essential messenger that plays a really central role in our health. In order for us to fall asleep easily and support healthy sleeping habits, we should pay attention to our melatonin levels and ensure that the body can naturally produce enough sleep hormones.
Our tip: Dim the light 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 supply your body with sufficient L-tryptophan, promote the formation of serotonin caused by light and optimally prepare it for the evening melatonin synthesis.
The sleep hormone melatonin is an endogenous messenger that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and makes us tired and sleepy in the evening.
With increasing darkness or a lack of light, the happiness hormone serotonin is converted into melatonin in the brain
A low melatonin level promotes sleep disorders and problems falling asleep.
Food supplements with melatonin are well tolerated and can help you fall asleep.
L-tryptophan is a basic building block of serotonin and can have a positive effect on melatonin production.
Support your sleep by soaking up daylight during the day to form serotonin, eating a balanced diet to supply your body with L-tryptophan and dimming the lights in the evening.
Greetings and see you soon!