Update: we have made the article easier to read. We have also incorporated the advantages and disadvantages of taking melatonin, in addition to knowing what other medications it is not compatible with, since it is an important topic to know.
The human body is still a great mystery to science. We are unaware of many of the mechanisms that regulate aspects as relevant as aging, sleep cycles, mental illnesses, or stress and anxiety control.
One of the most fascinating mysteries, which little by little is beginning to be revealed, is that of the melatonin. It is a hormone that the body produces naturally.
It’s known that affects the sleep cycle, aging, immune defenses, and also slows the progress of diseases such as AIDS or cancer.
The melatonin is a hormone that activates with the darkness Our body secretes it at night, when there is no light, and it slows down during the day.
This operation conflicts with our modern rhythm of life, which takes away hours of sleep and deprives us of the absence of light, due to the screens of mobile phones, tablets and computers, affecting our health:
let’s find out how melatonin worksand how to recover the natural levels in our body, if we sense that they are lower than normal (or our doctor confirms it).
What is melatonin, what is it for and how does it help you sleep:
What is melatonin?
It is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, located in the center of the head. It depends on a section of the hypothalamus that receives information from the retina, so it is affected by light. It is generated when the eyes detect darkness, that is, mainly when we are sleeping, segregation decreasing during the day.
This hormone is also produced by animals and plants. It is known that the body uses it to regulate the daily sleep cycle, and that the amount of melatonin we produce drops sharply after the age of 30.
This could be the cause of children and young people falling asleep easily, while as age increases, it is more difficult to fall asleep.
melatonin it also reduces the rate of oxidation of the cells, that is, slows down aging. On the contrary, its absence can speed it up.
Finally, we know that strengthens immune defenses. Various medical studies have detected that it is capable of slowing down diseases such as AIDS, preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases and others associated with aging, reducing migraines and headaches.
Low levels of this hormone are associated with symptoms of depression and contagious diseases due to low defenses, such as the flu.
In short, the segregation of melatonin It is regulated by the light that enters through our retinas, as well as external factors such as temperature or the season of the year. It is also affected by stress, and by age.
It affects workers with shift changes or who travel a lot and suffer jet lag. In addition, it is beginning to be verified that the light emitted by screens (especially blue light), when used at night, alters the secretion of melatonin. What can we do to prevent it?
How to prevent melatonin deficiency
Fortunately, it is easy to prevent some of the causes that reduce the production of this hormone. Here are some tips:
orderly pace of life
Try to maintain a regularity at bedtime. Try to always go to bed at a similar time, and sleep the same number of hours.
Preferably with the natural cycles of the day, that is, sleep when there is no sunlight.
8 hours of sleep a day
We have seen that melatonin It occurs when we are asleep. If you sleep for a few hours, less quantity is secreted, which could cause the aforementioned problems.
Sleeping eight hours a day generates numerous benefits, and this is one of them.
Darken the bedroom
Turn off any light, appliance, pilot, or any other object that produces luz while you sleep.
If the mobile activates the screen or a flashing light when it receives a message, deactivate it too.
use a mask
If the room where you sleep is not completely dark, or your partner often gets up to go to the bathroom, or has other schedules and usually turns on the light while you sleep, it is advisable to use an eye mask. Make sure it has a hole in the eye area, so you can still open your eyes with it on.
This is because during the REM phase the eyes tend to move even with the eyelids closed, so the mask should not squeeze them. Masks are usually more comfortable that they have nose, because they do not move as much during sleep. But that already depends on each person.
Control the screens
More and more experts advise not to go to sleep immediately after using the mobile or the computer. Wait at least 15 minutes, although at least an hour is advisable.
Some smartphones or monitors have a night use mode that reduces blue light, precisely so as not to interfere with sleep cycles. Activate it at night.
If you like to read an ebook before going to bed, use a Kindle-type ebook reader instead of a tablet or smartphone, since its electronic ink screen does not emit glare and the light does not point to the face, but to the sides of the screen. screen.
Wear amber glasses
If you spend many hours in front of the computer, or you cannot avoid doing so before going to sleep, you can use computer protection glasses that filter blue light and make it easier to see. The main brands have some model, but there are also specialized firms such as Gunnar Optiks:
They have a yellow tint because they filter 65% of blue light, the most annoying for the eyes, and block the brightest light. In addition, they make it easier to focus and blur the pixels of the letters, reducing the workload on our eyes.
How to recover melatonin levels
If you have symptoms of insomnia, irritation, depression, tiredness, low defenses, it is possible that you suffer from a melatonin deficiency.
Or maybe your doctor told you. Fortunately, there are ways to facilitate the production of the hormone.
Some foods are known to act as catalysts to produce more melatonin. They are potato, oats, tomatoes, corn, rice, nuts, plums, rice and red wine.
Increase its presence in your diet, and melatonin will be generated more easily. But as long as you respect the advice in the previous section, when you go to sleep.
In pharmacies, herbalists and supermarkets they sell melatonin supplements.
They are extracted from plants and act both to overcome a deficit and to prevent a drop in hormone levels. They are not medicines and have no contraindications, as they are a natural hormone produced by the body itself.
But it is not convenient to exceed the recommended daily dose (usually one capsule a day, half an hour before going to sleep). As we have explained, they not only facilitate sleep, but also reinforce defenses and act as an antioxidant, slowing down aging.
There are different investigations that point to the positive part of melatonin in the body:
- favors the falling asleep or maintaining sleep as we have already told you.
- stimulates the secretion of growth hormoneessential for child development.
- Let our immune system is regulated in a better way, with a preventive effect on possible infections or various pathologies.
- favors the Cancer preventionin addition to enhancing the therapeutic efficacy of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- According to various studies, it also prevents and stop COVID-19.
Supplements are sold with different amounts of melatonin per capsule: 0.5, 1, 1.5, 1.9 milligrams, etc. The most common is 1 mg.
Although medicine has not yet revealed all the secrets of melatoninwe are increasingly clear about its importance in sleep cycles and aging.
It is generally considered safe to take melatonin for a short period of time. It is a medication that does not cause dependence, but it can cause certain side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea, or daytime sleepiness. This is something we must know.
It is also not recommended to take melatonin with certain medications, since they can interact in a not very positive way. These are:
- Anticoagulant medications.
- Medications to prevent seizures.
- Medications for high blood pressure.
- Medications for diabetes.
- Immunosuppressive drugs.
- Drugs that break down in the liver.
Luckily, as we have seen, there are many ways to regulate its presence in the body, in a simple way and without the need to take medication.
Now you have much more knowledge about melatonin, something that will help you.