Melatonin and its effect on sleep and immunity

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In the human body, many phys­i­o­log­i­cal process­es are active­ly reg­u­lat­ed by hor­mones. So, the hor­mone mela­tonin, pro­duced by the pineal gland, is respon­si­ble for sleep, helps to move from the wake­ful­ness phase to the rest­ing phase. Vio­la­tion of the pro­duc­tion of this sub­stance leads to a dis­or­der of sleep and many oth­er body process­es, in con­nec­tion with which there has been an increase in inter­est in tak­ing this hor­mone in tablets for treat­ment. How­ev­er, the effect of mela­tonin is not lim­it­ed to sleep, its effects on immu­ni­ty, cho­les­terol lev­els and oth­er body process­es have been revealed.

“Third eye”: the role of the pineal gland and hormones

If we pro­ceed from the fact that our eyes per­ceive light impuls­es, then the pineal gland, from this point of view, can be con­sid­ered the “third eye”, because hor­mones are pro­duced by it, based on the per­cep­tion of light and dark­ness by the body. They are designed to syn­chro­nize the process­es of the body in accor­dance with peri­ods of day­time activ­i­ty and night­time rest. Accord­ing­ly, dur­ing the day, the pineal gland sup­press­es the syn­the­sis of those hor­mones that are respon­si­ble for sleep, so that a per­son feels alert and rest­ed. With the onset of night, the activ­i­ty of the organ increas­es, and hor­mones are syn­the­sized in grad­u­al­ly increas­ing quan­ti­ties that set the body to rest, includ­ing mela­tonin. How­ev­er, the pineal gland is extreme­ly sen­si­tive to the neg­a­tive effects of the exter­nal envi­ron­ment and the influ­ence of the chang­ing rhythm of life. Today, sci­en­tists note a trend towards a decrease in its size already in the neona­tal peri­od. This is explained by an excess of arti­fi­cial light­ing, which sup­press­es hor­mones that are acti­vat­ed only in the dark. It is also asso­ci­at­ed with an increas­ing num­ber of prob­lems caused by sleep dis­or­ders.

Areas of influence of melatonin: immunity and nervous system

Today, med­i­cine is aimed at find­ing, if pos­si­ble, ways to cure many patholo­gies with­in the body itself. Hor­mones, their reg­u­la­tion and the prob­lem of fail­ures in their syn­the­sis is one of the key areas of research. In this regard, mela­tonin has become an object for tar­get­ed study in con­nec­tion with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of its use as a uni­ver­sal drug. They want to use it to reg­u­late the basic human needs for rest and sleep. In addi­tion, it can also pro­tect against many patholo­gies. To date, the mech­a­nisms of its influ­ence on the immune sys­tem and the func­tion­ing of the ner­vous sys­tem have been iden­ti­fied.

Ele­vat­ed lev­els of mela­tonin lead to the acti­va­tion of the immune sys­tem. It stim­u­lates immune cells, which are more active in fight­ing virus­es and bac­te­ria trans­formed by body cells. In addi­tion, due to mela­tonin, the immune sys­tem more active­ly dis­tin­guish­es between “us” and “them”, which means that the risk of autoim­mune patholo­gies is reduced. Accord­ing­ly, the prop­er­ties of mela­tonin are being stud­ied with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fur­ther using this sub­stance to stim­u­late immu­ni­ty or treat autoim­mune dis­or­ders.

Increas­ing the con­cen­tra­tion of mela­tonin pre­vents pre­ma­ture death of brain cells. It helps in improv­ing mem­o­ry and nor­mal­iza­tion of men­tal activ­i­ty. Today, close atten­tion is focused on mela­tonin in con­nec­tion with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of fur­ther use of it in Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

The effect of the hormone on cholesterol and cancer

The effect of the hormone on cholesterol and cancer

Mela­tonin also has the abil­i­ty to pre­vent the for­ma­tion of cho­les­terol plaques on the walls of blood ves­sels (anti-ath­er­o­scle­rot­ic effect). In addi­tion, they reduce the pro­duc­tion of cho­les­terol and its entry into the blood plas­ma. Accord­ing­ly, sci­en­tists are devel­op­ing drugs with this com­po­nent, which will help reduce bad cho­les­terol and its neg­a­tive effect on blood ves­sels, and also con­tribute to the pre­ven­tion of car­dio­vas­cu­lar patholo­gies. In addi­tion to the fact that mela­tonin affects cho­les­terol, it also has an inhibito­ry effect on the pro­duc­tion of estro­gens, which can pro­voke the for­ma­tion of breast can­cer. Accord­ing to sci­en­tists, after detailed research and study of all aspects of the action of the hor­mone, it will be pos­si­ble to use it both for the pre­ven­tion of many dis­eases and for their treat­ment in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er means.

The effect of melatonin on sleep

Nat­u­ral­ly, its most basic prop­er­ty is the reg­u­la­tion of the process­es of sleep and wake­ful­ness. A well-rest­ed, ful­ly rest­ed per­son feels cheer­ful and active. Accord­ing­ly, it can be argued that sleep is the best med­i­cine for many of the patholo­gies, espe­cial­ly those asso­ci­at­ed with over­work, lack of rest and stress. If mela­tonin is active­ly pro­duced by the body at the onset of the dark time of the day, there is a desire to sleep and a healthy and deep sleep occurs. If the hor­mone is too low or the rhythm of its pro­duc­tion is dis­turbed, insom­nia may occur. Can I take mela­tonin tablets to get a good night’s sleep and rest?

Hormone in pills

Hormone in pills

For sleep dis­or­ders, tablets con­tain­ing mela­tonin are used. In long-term stud­ies, no poten­tial dan­ger of over­dose has been shown, even when the dose is exceed­ed by 10 times or more. Such pills have been used for more than 20 years around the world, using them, for the most part, for insom­nia or jet lag — the prob­lem of flights and jet lag.

The drug is con­traindi­cat­ed only for chil­dren under 18 years of age and expec­tant moth­ers, lac­tat­ing, as well as peo­ple with immune dis­or­ders and dia­betes. Every­one else can take this drug if there is an urgent need, and after con­sult­ing a doc­tor.

Mela­tonin tablets are shown with fre­quent awak­en­ings at night, with dif­fi­cul­ty falling asleep, insom­nia, both stress­ful and age-relat­ed, with sleep dis­or­ders asso­ci­at­ed with shift work or fre­quent flights and a sharp change in time zones.

Usu­al­ly, for sleep prob­lems, the drug is used imme­di­ate­ly before going to bed to wake up less often at night, or three hours before going to bed if there are dif­fi­cul­ties with going to bed. If there is a flight in an east­er­ly direc­tion, take the drug accord­ing to the scheme — the night before depar­ture, and then after arrival for anoth­er 4 days. In the oppo­site direc­tion of the flight, the drug is tak­en after arrival for 4 days.

Endocrinol­o­gy. nation­al guid­ance / Ed. I.I. Dedo­va, G.A. Mel­nichenko - 2012

By Yraa

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