For all those who cherish sleep, melatonin is our best friend. It is a natural hormone in our bodies that is released into our blood stream to regulate our sleep cycles. It is also a potent antioxidant, which makes it a friend to our youth as well.
How Melatonin Works
Late at night, after sunset, our body releases melatonin from our pineal gland into our bloodstream. This gives us that relaxing feeling and the permission to get some much needed rest from our day’s work – our bodies’ way for falling asleep naturally.
Melatonin is only released when darkness pervades. Any sunlight or bright lights prevents the release of melatonin. This reality causes shift workers and jetsetters to have an increased need for melatonin. Our melatonin levels also decrease as we age, which presents the need for supplementation as well.
In our modern world of constant work and adored convenience, we have the option of taking melatonin supplements. There are synthetic pills that are said to be bio-identical and safe. There are also animal-based supplements that, however, present more of a hazard due to animal hormones being assimilated into the body tissues.
Supplement pills are taken about 30 minutes before bedtime; or on a plane ride crossing time zones, and again a few days while in a new time zone. This is a good way to fall asleep naturally on a long plane trip.
“Overall, research indicates improved sleep when melatonin is taken at the appropriate time for jet lag and shift work. Appropriate dosage and any safety risks will become clear with further research. Melatonin might help shift workers on irregular shifts who need to adjust their schedules. When taken in low doses at the appropriate time, melatonin can help advance or delay the sleep-wake cycle.” – National Sleep Foundation
Melatonin supplements are said to be safer than sleeping pills that have adverse side effects. However, there is still concern over the safety of this supplement since not enough studies have been done to be definitive on its long term effects. There is the question also, of whether prolonged use of melatonin supplements will suppress the body’s natural production of melatonin.
Melatonin and Female Reproductive Hormones
Along with being a helpful sleep aid, melatonin also, “helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause).”
Delays the Effects of Aging
The most stimulating research find is that melatonin is also a potent antioxidant and able to protect against the effects of aging and regenerative disease. A new study published by Reiter and colleagues at the University of Granada in Spain found that melatonin neutralizes the oxidative and inflammation process caused by aging, thereby suggesting that melatonin may play a role in delaying the effects of aging.
Increase Your Levels of Melatonin Naturally
The safest ways to increase your levels of melatonin is through natural means that support your body’s natural rhythms.
- Getting more exposure to sun and natural daylight, increases melatonin output at night.
- Exercise boosts melatonin levels.
Certain foods are rich in melatonin. Cherries are the most abundant. Also, oats, corn, ginger, parsley, nuts and seeds, and ripe tomatoes.
Magnetic Therapy to Stimulate Melatonin Production
Magnetic Therapy helps to stimulate the body’s own production of melatonin when there is a deficiency.
“The most effective way to increase your melatonin levels is to stimulate your own body to produce more of its own supplies of melatonin. The pineal gland is very responsive to electromagnetic fields. When a strong magnetic field is placed around the head, the pineal gland is stimulated to work harder and as a result it produces more melatonin. Over a period of a few days – a couple of weeks (depending on the individual) – the body’s melatonin levels will have increased to normal. Once melatonin levels have reached normal, the body clock begins to reset itself and insomnia will resolve.
The majority of insomnia sufferers will achieve very good results when using magnets in their pillow every night. Tests have shown that magnetic pillow pads reduce jet lag in long haul flight crews and they have been tested on chronic insomnia patients. The pillow pad must be left inside the pillow case permanently to prevent the body clock from becoming out of alignment again” – Medical Therapy Facts
Melatonin is Important for Health
Melatonin is important for our health and well-being. It is safest to work with the body’s natural cycles to improve sleep patterns and supply essential antioxidants. Treating ourselves to adequate sleep rather than staying up all night in the bright party lights, getting adequate exercise and sunlight, and eating wholesome and healing foods are all safe ways to increase our melatonin and improve our health. Supplement pills can also be used for those with extenuating circumstances, with emphasis on being conscious and safe.
Andrea Phillips writes on an array of topics like Health and Nutrition, Organic Agriculture, and Relationships, to name a few. She has also written for a publishing company in Washington, DC, and an organic agricultural newsletter in Israel.