What Is Melatonin And What Can It Do For Me?

So you have had trouble sleeping and you have gone to the pharmacist and they recommended something called melatonin.

photo credit: hang_in_there via photopin cc

photo credit: hang_in_there via photopin cc

 

You’ve heard of it before and are told it is relatively safe to use, but what exactly is this hormone used for in the body and how do you know if you are low in the production of it?

Symptoms can have many reasons, especially with hormone levels, but some of the symptoms of melatonin deficiency are:

Restless legs – “epidemic” is one word I would use to describe this medical issue that took so long to convince the medical community it actually exists.  Tense muscles at night and restless legs can be a sign of melatonin deficiency.

Sleep – If you suffer from insomnia, wake up easily in the middle of the night or have trouble falling asleep, if you don’t have many dreams while sleeping, have a superficial or anxious sleep and anxious thinking at night – these are cardinal signs of low melatonin although cortisol levels may also be to blame.  In fact cortisol and melatonin levels have an inverse relationship relative to each other in the body.

Mood – if you are someone that lacks inner peace, are always anxious, suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression, or are always on the edge with regards to your emotions and are always irritable – you may be low in melatonin.  Melatonin is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is increased by some antidepressant medications.

Menopause symptoms – hot flashes, heart palpitations, morning depression and irregular cycles have are believed to be improved by melatonin supplementation.

Low Thyroid symptoms–  Melatonin is instrumental in converting the thyroid’s T4 to the active T3 form, which gives you energy and generates heat.  In fact melatonin and Thyroid stimulating hormone all originate in the pineal gland.  So low thyroid symptoms may indicate a low level of melatonin.

Intestinal Symptoms – such as pain and hyperactivity and intestinal spasms can also signify that melatonin is low.  Colitis is also more susceptible in low melatonin patients

Increased aging process – melatonin supplementation has been shown to decrease the aging process in such tissues as brain and because it is a powerful antioxidant, it helps protect all tissues in the body.

Other studies have shown benefits with melatonin and weight loss, cardiac function, breast cancer/prostate cancer prevention, mitochondrial function, improvement of stroke outcome,  Parkinsons disease symptoms, high blood pressure, alzheimer’s, fertility, type 2 diabetes and immune function.

Of course supplementation with pharmaceutical grade melatonin can help, but improving your own melatonin production at the right time of day is possible without supplementation. Maximize darkness at night any way you can and melatonin production can increase. This includes personal electronic devices. Conversely, exposure to sunlight in the morning upon wakening also helps. This doesn’t mean turning the lights on inside either – sunlight is what we need. This is especially important as you age since melatonin production drops off as you get older.

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