Melatonin is a popular product many people are familiar with, but may not understand why it is so essential. Melatonin is often referred to as Sleep Hormone and is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland, but many people do not know it is also produced by bacteria in the gut. Melatonin plays many roles in the body such as supporting immune health and changing circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. Melatonin promotes total sleep time, balances circadian rhythms, aids with jet lag fatigue and helps reset the sleep/wake cycles in the body in addition to modifying immunity, stress response and certain aging process aspects. Melatonin is what helps us stay awake during the day and fall asleep at night.
Although it is important when the body produces Melatonin it may be more important how much Melatonin gets produced. Higher levels of Melatonin are needed at night (starting around 9:00 PM) and lower levels of this hormone are needed in the morning. As Melatonin levels become higher we begin to feel tired and sleepy. Ideally Melatonin levels can stay at these higher levels for approximately 12 hours and should stay at these higher levels throughout the entire night. Melatonin levels begin to fall back to lower levels during the day (starting around 9:00 AM). Daytime levels of Melatonin should be just barely detectable. If Melatonin levels stay too high during the day a person may feel sluggish and tired all day.
Believe it or not there is at a minimum 400 times more Melatonin found in the gastrointestinal tract than in the pineal gland. The gastrointestinal tract provides more circulating concentrations of Melatonin and acts as an endocrine hormone influencing the immune system and regenerating the epithelium (the thin tissue forming the outer layer of the body’s surface). Melatonin may prevent ulcer formation on gastrointestinal mucosa due to its antioxidant action and well as reduce excess hydrochloric acid released by the body. This to these properties, Melatonin has been used to treat issues like childhood colic, ulcerative colitis, IBS and even cancer.
Low Melatonin levels can be caused by lack of sleep, changing work schedules, excess cortisol release due to stress and inflammation, too much screen time, time zone changes, frequent traveling, Gut and bacterial imbalances and natural aging. Low Melatonin levels can cause fatigue, agitation, depression, sickness, anxiety in addition to other mood disorders, hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and obesity.
Optimal levels of Melatonin can aid in sleep support including total sleep time, time to fall asleep and even sleep quality and alertness in the morning, jet lag, immune support, adrenal support, cancer support, and mood support.
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