Insomnia and other sleeping disorders are steadily on the rise, a very alarming statistic that experts around the world are trying to combat. One of the leading causes of these sleeping disorders is related to the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep, and its deficiency can be correlated to a wide array of sleeping issues. In this article, we will examine why melatonin is necessary, the causes of melatonin deficiency, and their possible remedies.
Melatonin controls a person’s circadian rhythm: their sleep/wake cycle. Proper secretion of the hormone ensures high-quality sleep and makes one feel more active when awake. Consequently, not having enough melatonin can have adverse effects such as:
A lack of melatonin prevents you from experiencing the sensation of sleepiness, making people have trouble sleeping or simply unable to sleep.
Usually, a person’s circadian rhythm is designed in such a way that they feel tired at night and awake during the day. A circadian rhythm disorder is a significant deviation from this cycle: instead of being tired at night, you might find yourself most tired in the morning or the middle of the day while feeling most active after midnight.
There has been a lot of debate over whether inadequate sleep causes mental illness or the other way around. The varies on a case-to-case basis, but the lack of sleep can always be attributed to melatonin deficiencies. It may compromise a person’s overall quality of life, exacerbating mental illnesses such as anxiety and major depressive disorder.
A lack of sleep caused by a melatonin deficiency also compromises your immunity. Not only does it make diseases such as the common cold more intense, but it also increases the recovery time.
Here are some reasons for this hormone deficiency and what to do about it.
High carbohydrate diets can inhibit melatonin production significantly. Due to sudden blood sugar spikes and drops, your regular melatonin production gets subdued. Taking too much caffeine can also interfere with melatonin production.
One of the most harmful things for melatonin production is excessive exposure to blue light. Humans evolved to stay awake while the sun was out and sleep after the sun sets. However, light, especially higher-frequency blue light, fools our minds into thinking that the sun never actually sets. This instinctively keeps us awake for longer and prevents us from secreting melatonin at the right time or in adequate amounts.
Try limiting the use of devices with screens an hour or two before bed. If that is not possible due to the nature of your job or routine, you could use glasses with blue-cut lenses that reduce the intensity of blue light entering your eyes. Companies like ICU Eyewear stock them. Many report better sleep and less eye fatigue using these glasses. However, though this solution is effective, it is not as perfect as limiting the use of devices before bed.
A key factor behind melatonin deficiencies is age. Older people secrete less melatonin than their younger counterparts. On the other hand, teenagers experiencing puberty need more sleep and also experience a delay in their circadian rhythms, preferring to stay up later than most adults.
Although it is challenging to fix melatonin deficiencies caused by aging, limiting your exposure to blue light and fixing up your diet, as highlighted above, can still go a long way in ensuring that the quality of your sleep is not compromised.
A lot of affected people combat sleeplessness and insomnia using melatonin supplements. Many find them to be an effective remedy and see their sleep partially or fully fixing improving. However, some individuals experience side effects from melatonin supplements, such as nausea, dizziness, and even vivid nightmares. It is also very easy to take too much and abuse melatonin supplements. If you’re suffering from sleeplessness, consult your healthcare practitioner to see if these supplements can help you.
Sleeping disorders are becoming more commonplace and need to be taken more seriously. More often than not, the root of the problem is related to the melatonin not being produced. In a world where people are lauded for pulling all-nighters and burning the midnight oil, let us aim for a world that prioritizes rest and well-being.