Melatonin – the hormone of sleep and youth
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates many processes in our body, including biological rhythms.
The bulk of melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, the pineal gland located in the brain.
The pineal gland produces different amounts of melatonin depending on the light intensity – it increases synthesis at night and decreases during the day.
But in addition to the pineal gland, the “sleep hormone” is produced in small quantities by cells of other organs and systems – the gastric tract, kidneys, retina, thymus, gonads. The production of melatonin in these organs does not depend on the degree of light.
Effects of melatonin
In the body, the hormone melatonin has many important functions:
- Regulation of circadian rhythms. The main task of melatonin is to establish biorhythms of sleep-wakefulness. This is done due to daily fluctuations in the synthesis of melatonin. However, studies have shown that melatonin does not have a direct hypnotic effect, but only inhibits wakefulness. Thus, melatonin gradually prepares the body for a night’s rest without disturbing normal physiological processes. This gives melatonin tablets a significant advantage over any other sleeping pills.
- Stimulation of immunity. Melatonin acts on the thymus, which increases the production of T-lymphocytes, an important link in the immune system.
- Antioxidant effect. Melatonin is currently one of the most active antioxidants known to science. It is known that reducing the amount of free radicals helps to maintain health and youth. It is also an interesting fact that two antioxidants – melatonin and vitamin E together provide more protection of cells from free radicals than separately.
- Antineoplastic protection. There are studies that indicate a link between a lack of melatonin and the development of some types of malignant tumors, in particular melanoma and breast cancer.
- Regulates pigment metabolism. As a melanocyte – stimulating hormone antagonist , melatonin inhibits the formation of pigments in the skin.
- Inhibits the function of the sex glands.
Lack of melatonin
Long-term lack of melatonin in the body can lead to insomnia and depression.
Since even artificial light interferes with the production of melatonin in sufficient quantities, it is recommended to prepare for bed in advance – use dim lighting, turn off the TV and laptop in advance, and also not use a smartphone before bed. The light from the screens of these devices prevents the increase in melatonin levels, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
It is also important for deep sleep that the bedroom is as dark as possible. It is recommended that people working in shifts cover their windows with very heavy curtains or use a sleep mask.
With age, the pineal gland decreases in volume and the level of hormones it produces decreases. This is one of the common causes of insomnia and other sleep disorders in older people.
Indications for the use of melatonin tablets
Melatonin is recommended for people suffering from a lack of melatonin, as well as for patients with short-term insomnia caused by the failure of the sleep-wake cycle. Desynchronization of circadian rhythms is observed in people with shift work schedules, travelers crossing several time zones, and also with so-called weekend insomnia.
Jet lag (jet lag or time zone change syndrome) is a complex of symptoms that occurs when you quickly cross time zones. At the same time, circadian rhythms go astray and a person is not able to quickly rebuild his regime. This is manifested by daytime sleepiness, inability to fall asleep in the evening, frequent awakenings, and fatigue. To avoid jet lag, it is recommended to start taking melatonin tablets one day before the flight and continue for 3-5 days afterwards.
Taking melatonin is safe and not physically addictive. Of course, long-term use of the drug should be recommended by a doctor. Insomnia can be caused not only by a lack of sleep hormone, but also by many other reasons. Therefore, with self-medication, you can start the underlying disease that caused sleep disturbance.
Melatonin does not accumulate in tissues and is rapidly excreted from the body, so overdose is unlikely. In the case of taking doses exceeding the recommended ones, there is an increase in side effects – headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
What drugs contain melatonin
As an active ingredient, melatonin is contained in preparations under the trademarks: Melaxen , Sonnovan , Melarena , Melarithm , as well as in prolonged-release tablets Circadin .
Melatonin is a unique and safe product that has no analogues. Unlike sleeping pills, drugs with melatonin do not disrupt the natural structure of sleep and do not cause discomfort upon waking.