Every day our body pro­duces a large num­ber of dif­fer­ent hor­mones that per­form a wide vari­ety of func­tions. One of them is mela­tonin. In the lit­er­a­ture, you can find anoth­er name for this sub­stance — “sleep hor­mone”. In this arti­cle, we will talk about what mela­tonin is, con­sid­er its for­mu­la, func­tions, as well as the rea­sons for the decrease and increase in the lev­el of this sub­stance in the body.

Melatonin: what is this substance?

Mela­tonin is a bio­log­i­cal­ly active sub­stance pro­duced by the pineal gland, which is a key coor­di­na­tor of the body’s cir­ca­di­an rhythms.

This hor­mone was first iso­lat­ed in 1958 by Amer­i­can sci­en­tists. Its chem­i­cal for­mu­la is C13H16N2O2.

The pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin direct­ly depends on the time of day. The most active syn­the­sis of this sub­stance is record­ed at night, while dur­ing the day its pro­duc­tion is min­i­mal.

As we said, mela­tonin is also called the “sleep hor­mone”. It is respon­si­ble for the reg­u­la­tion of cir­ca­di­an rhythms. Cir­ca­di­an rhythms are cyclic fluc­tu­a­tions in the inten­si­ty of var­i­ous bio­log­i­cal process­es asso­ci­at­ed with the change of time of day. Thus, at night­fall, under the influ­ence of this sub­stance, a cer­tain pre­dis­po­si­tion, crav­ing for sleep, is cre­at­ed.

In addi­tion, mela­tonin per­forms a num­ber of oth­er impor­tant func­tions. For exam­ple, it is a strong antiox­i­dant. In 2011, sci­en­tists from the Grod­no State Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty pub­lished a paper in which it was found that mela­tonin has pro­nounced antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties and acts as a free rad­i­cal scav­enger. More­over, the activ­i­ty of this nat­ur­al antiox­i­dant exceeds the activ­i­ty of sub­stances such as vit­a­min C and vit­a­min E.

Oth­er func­tions of this hor­mone include:

    Activation of immune processes;
    Normalization of blood pressure;
    Stimulation of sexual desire;
    Regulation of the menstrual cycle;
    Antitumor activity and so on.

When is a melatonin test ordered?

When is a melatonin test ordered?

First of all, it is nec­es­sary to study the lev­el of mela­tonin for var­i­ous sleep prob­lems, for exam­ple, insom­nia or increased sleepi­ness.

In addi­tion, this analy­sis is pre­scribed for some affec­tive dis­or­ders, men­stru­al dis­or­ders, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. In some cas­es, the deter­mi­na­tion of the lev­el of mela­tonin is car­ried out for prob­lems with the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, endocrine dis­eases, espe­cial­ly in dis­eases of the thy­roid gland.

Causes of rising and falling melatonin levels

An increase in the lev­el of mela­tonin indi­cates an exces­sive func­tion­al activ­i­ty of the pineal gland. In turn, the hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty of the pineal gland may be due to tumor or cys­tic neo­plasms in this anatom­i­cal region, par­a­sitic lesions of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. Some­times the exact cause of such a vio­la­tion can­not be estab­lished.

A decrease in mela­tonin lev­els is asso­ci­at­ed with age-relat­ed changes, tak­ing cer­tain med­ica­tions, in par­tic­u­lar beta-block­ers, exces­sive alco­hol abuse, pro­longed fast­ing, and many oth­er fac­tors.

By Yraa

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