Hormones are conductors that control our entire body. They are responsible for growth, body formation, character traits, and even the ability to distinguish between day and night. At the same time, melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps us feel the circadian rhythm, is no less important than any other. What is the use of it, what threatens its deficiency and why a healthy lifestyle is so important for the production of this hormone, MedAboutMe figured it out.
What is the hormone melatonin
It is known that sleep is a necessary component of human life. This is due to the fact that it is during sleep that the body regenerates, rests, restores energy reserves. Even effective learning of new skills is impossible without sleep, because during the rest period the brain processes and systematizes the information received during the day.
The hormone melatonin is responsible for the ability to fall asleep and sleep for a long time. It provides switching of an organism, influences the central nervous system and a metabolism. However, these are far from all the functions for which the sleep hormone is responsible. Melatonin also provides:
- Reduction of age-related changes, that is, protection against aging. The hormone is a natural antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals.
- Prevention of oncological diseases.
- Activation of immunity.
- Normalization of blood composition — lowering sugar and “bad” cholesterol.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- The normalization of the psychological state, in particular, helps to fight seasonal depression.
Melatonin is synthesized by the pineal gland, and normally the hormone is produced at night. Moreover, its maximum amount, up to 70%, appears from 0 to 4 in the morning. Darkness is one of the main factors for the formation of melatonin. It is extremely difficult to provide its necessary concentration in the blood during daytime sleep. This must be remembered by those who work night shifts. The sleeping room should have thick curtains that do not let in light, it is also better to use a blindfold. Otherwise, the norms of hormones will not be provided — the body will become more vulnerable to various diseases.
Hormone and health
All hormones in the body are connected, a violation of the production of one can lead to other failures. And melatonin is no exception. It is he who makes us feel the change of day and night. However, not only the sleep hormone is tied to circadian rhythms. The norms of hormones change significantly during the day, and without the body feeling the daily rhythm, their synthesis is disturbed. An example would be TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland. Its maximum output also falls at night. If melatonin is not enough and a person does not fall asleep, the level of TSH decreases, and after it, disruptions in the production of thyroid hormones begin. As a result, hypothyroidism develops — a disease that affects the state of the whole organism, can, in particular, affect sex hormones and lead to infertility.
In addition, the connection between melatonin and insulin, which is responsible for the regulation of blood glucose levels, has been proven. In the event that the sleep hormone is not enough, insulin levels also fall — a person can develop diabetes.
With age, the amount of melatonin produced decreases, and this is reflected in health. Since the hormone compensates for free radicals, low levels will lead to their accumulation. And this, in turn, accelerates the aging and wilting of tissues, increases the risk of developing cancer.
The norm of the hormone melatonin lowers “bad” cholesterol, protects the body from the development of atherosclerosis. But with its deficiency, various diseases of the cardiovascular system, including coronary heart disease, can develop and progress faster.
Melatonin deficiency symptoms and treatment
It is possible to assume a lack of melatonin in a person who does not adhere to a healthy lifestyle (HLS), with a disturbed regimen. Frequent wakefulness at night and late falling asleep always lead to a decrease in the level of the hormone. In the future, its deficiency is manifested by serious sleep disorders. Along with constant insomnia, in which a person simply cannot fall asleep at night, chronic daytime sleepiness is observed. Sleep ceases to be deep and long, for example, a person can wake up at night, after which he can no longer fall asleep until morning.
Later, other symptoms of circadian rhythm disturbance and low hormone levels appear:
- Poor concentration, low productivity.
- Inhibition of reactions or, conversely, mild excitability.
- Problematic aging skin, dry hair.
- Excess weight.
- Frequent colds.
- High blood pressure, rapid heartbeat.
In the event that sleep disturbances are sufficiently pronounced and are not compensated by the usual adjustment of the regimen, the doctor may prescribe special preparations containing melatonin. The expediency of drug treatment is determined exclusively by a specialist endocrinologist based on tests. The vast majority of these drugs are prescribed to people over 35 years of age. Until this age, the restoration of the norm of the hormone melatonin is solved by adjusting the lifestyle.
Healthy lifestyle for disease prevention
It is simply impossible to provide the required level of melatonin without a healthy lifestyle, because if the regimen is not followed, the production of the hormone cannot be achieved. It is quite difficult to adequately compensate for its deficiency with a constant intake of drugs. The production of melatonin can change daily, which means that the selected fixed dose may be insufficient or excessive, depending on how the person spent the day. And this will lead to hormonal surges that will affect the entire body.
To prevent diseases caused by melatonin deficiency, it is important to follow these rules:
- Correct sleep. You should fall asleep no later than 12 o’clock at night, sleep in a dark room, it is better to give up nightlights, lamps and other things.
- Daily activity. Melatonin is inextricably linked to serotonin, a daytime pituitary hormone that is produced in bright light. It is from serotonin that the sleep hormone is synthesized at night. Therefore, insufficient activity during the day, lack of walks in the fresh air on sunny days can also lower melatonin levels.
- Rejection of bad habits. The hormonal background directly depends on the observance of this norm of healthy lifestyle. It has been proven that melatonin synthesis is inhibited by alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
- Sufficient variety of food. Some foods rich in protein stimulate the production of the hormone. Among them: nuts, meat, legumes, dairy products. Oatmeal and whole grain bread are also helpful.
Endocrinology. national guidance / Ed. I.I. Dedova, G.A. Melnichenko - 2012