Melatonin is a natural hormone and powerful antioxidant, which provides many helpful benefits. Melatonin has been known to help support eye health, treat stomach ulcers and heartburn, ease tinnitus symptoms, and even raise growth hormone levels in men. We have put together a list of the top five natural health benefits of melatonin so that you can become more familiar with this natural sleep aid.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the brain every night in response to diminishing light. It is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm and telling our body clock it is time for bed. Aside from being a powerful antioxidant, many studies have shown that it is very effective in helping those with sleep disturbances to get to sleep quicker and stay asleep for longer (1). Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining a strong immune system and allowing the body time to rest and heal. Melatonin is a great natural alternative to conventional sleeping pills because it doesn’t have addictive qualities and there are no known risks of withdrawal issues when a dose is missed or stopped.
Too Little Sleep
Not having enough sleep can cause someone a lot worse side effects than yawning and irritability. Memory loss is just one example. While you sleep, neurons help your brain digest information that you’ve learned throughout that day, and a lack of sleep can affect your brain’s ability to retain information. Sleep deprivation also leaves your brain tired, affecting the brain’s ability to perform. This includes things such as memory retention and concentration.
Another side effect of too little sleep is your immune system doesn’t have the proper amount of time to build up its forces. While you sleep, your body produces protective substances like cytokines, to help combat things like bacteria and viruses. With too little sleep your body doesn’t have the time to build up these defense organisms, therefore weakening your body’s ability to fight off illnesses.
A lack of sleep can also help facilitate things such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What is the Right Amount?
Currently, the average American sleeps an average of 6.8 hours per night. This number is down by over an hour compared to recent years. The average recommended amount of sleep is somewhere between seven and nine hours for adults. For athletes, however, ten is the minimum recommended amount of sleep hours. Professional athletes like LeBron James and Roger Federer have said that they sleep a minimum of 12 hours a day. Your body needs more time to recover from the strenuous activities that it goes through daily. The more sleep, the more time your body can recover.
Benefits of the Right Amount
Having the right amount of sleep is extremely important to how your body functions and your body’s overall health. A research development conducted at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were on the same consistent sleep routine lost fat at a quicker rate than those who had abnormal sleep schedules.
The right amount of sleep can also decrease stress, anxiety, and depression levels in your body. This is because your brain has the proper amount of time to rest at night, it’s not overworked.
Additional benefits include improved memory, longer attention span,
Steps to Take to Sleep Better
The first step to take is to start a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it, even on the weekends. If you are sleeping excessively more on the weekends, then you aren’t sleeping enough during the week. Setting a “bedtime” can help kick-start your sleep schedule. It’s important to “wind down” before going to sleep as well. Even if you aren’t necessarily tired and ready to go to bed, laying in bed and reading, or something to that effect, will help your body recognize that it’s time to shut it down. However, you’ll want to avoid watching T.V. and playing on your cell phone while in bed. Getting yourself and your brain to recognize that your bed is for sleep and not for watching tv or playing Angry Birds, will allow you fall asleep more quickly.
Sleep is about routine. Stay on a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to get between seven and nine hours. This will help your body’s overall health and functionality and will help lead you to a life of health and happiness.
Reduce your risk of diabetes & weight gain
The most common risk factors for type 2 diabetes are familiar to most of us, but did you know that low levels of melatonin have also been linked to type 2 diabetes (2)? A large-scale study showed that those participants with the lowest levels of melatonin had double the risk of developing diabetes when compared with those with the highest levels. Diabetes and obesity go hand in hand, and melatonin is helping on this front too. Researchers at the University of Granada have demonstrated that melatonin “helps in controlling weight gain, even without reducing the intake of food” (3).
Alleviate symptoms of the menopause
Menopausal symptoms often include sleep difficulties, and melatonin supplements can help address this issue alongside feelings of depression. In a study of peri-menopausal and menopausal ,women aged 42-62 taking a daily dose of melatonin, most of the women reported an overall improvement of mood and a noticeable decrease in depression within the space of six months. The result of the study also showed how melatonin supplementation among these women led to a rebalancing of the pituitary and thyroid functions(4).
Melatonin can provide a simple and effective treatment option for migraine sufferers. As with the link between diabetes and low levels of melatonin, patients suffering from migraines have also been found to have depleted nighttime levels of this hormone (5). Researchers have found that melatonin can assist in decreasing the pain associated with migraines. A clinical trial found that 3 mg of melatonin taken 30 minutes before bedtime helped to reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of headaches for the subjects in the study. Out of 32 people, 25 noted a 50 percent decrease in headaches, and 8 participants experienced total cessation of headaches. (6)
Therapy for cancer
One of the most exciting developments involving melatonin is in its potential role in various cancer therapies. It has recently been shown that melatonin is beneficial in treating two particularly common types of cancer. A study in 2001 concluded that melatonin could significantly inhibit the growth and proliferation of prostate cancer cells, and a study in 2014 showed that it could also inhibit unwanted cell production and tumor growth in breast cancer (7, 8).