Thoughts on Better Aging

Sleep Soundly Once Again: Learn About Melatonin and the Circadian Rhythm

June 25th, 2019

There are many reasons you may have trouble sleeping. Low melatonin could be one of them. If you suffer from low melatonin levels, you can count on Renew Youth to find the right solutions to help you sleep soundly again.

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

Most people sleep at night and are awake during the day. In a perfect world, you should begin to feel tired as night comes on and should feel ready to wake up as daylight arrives. This feeling of being tired at night and wakeful when the sun is up occurs as a result of circadian rhythm.

Put simply, circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that controls several physiological functions, including the sleep-wake cycle. The suprachiasmatic nucleus, also known as the SCN, controls your circadian rhythm. It’s located within the hypothalamus of the brain and works to keep the body on a healthy sleep schedule.

Melatonin Plays an Important Role in Circadian Rhythm

Your SCN controls secretion of the hormone melatonin so it can maintain your sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin’s release follows a clock-like pattern set by the SCN. Levels of melatonin begin to rise about two hours before bedtime, peaking for most people around 3-4 o’clock in the morning, with levels gradually decreasing as sunrise approaches and it’s time to wake up.

What Impacts the Production of Melatonin?

Many factors affect the production of melatonin, including:

  • Darkness and light. The biggest factor impacting the secretion of melatonin is the presence of light or darkness. This is why melatonin is sometimes known as “the hormone of darkness.” When the eye sees daylight, it sends a message to the SCN letting it know it’s time to be awake. In response, melatonin secretion decreases. It’s when our eyes sense darkness that our bodies begin to produce melatonin so we can go to sleep.
  • Certain foods. Since melatonin is produced from tryptophan (which is an essential amino acid), foods containing tryptophan can have a positive influence on melatonin production. There are also several vitamins and minerals that can help with the production of melatonin.
  • Exercise. The effects of exercise on melatonin levels can be immediate or delayed, depending upon the type of exercise, the intensity, and time of day. For example, if you exercise in the evening, when melatonin levels would normally be rising, production could be lowered. However, exercising at night while melatonin levels are already high can sometimes increase levels even further.
  • Age. Most people will naturally product less melatonin as they age.
  • Low serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that comes from tryptophan, is needed to produce melatonin. When serotonin levels are low, melatonin levels will likely be affected.

How to Treat Low Melatonin

Developing good sleep hygiene, which includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, is essential for melatonin production. It’s also important to avoid bright light and bright screens too close to bed time. Some people may also need to take a melatonin supplement to increase levels.

Are you wondering if you have low melatonin? We can test your melatonin levels and recommend supplementation if you’re deficient. Contact Renew Youth at (800) 859-7511.

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