Sleep Smart With Melatonin
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, rarely is it linked to your hormones. Let me share an important connection in this regard. The chemical messenger in the body that controls sleep is the ‘Melatonin’ hormone. How? Melatonin levels rise in darkness (sunset/night). A nerve pathway in your eye sends a signal to the brain to tell the pineal gland to start secreting melatonin which makes you sleepy.
Melatonin helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s natural internal 24-hour clock (known as Circadian Rhythm) playing a critical role in regulating your sleep schedule. Numerous functions and processes take place while you sleep. Levels of stress hormones drop and the body produces HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which promotes growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones. Every tissue in the body, including the immune system, is renewed faster during sleep as compared to when you’re awake. Maybe now you can appreciate the serious effects of poor sleep.
Modern lifestyle and advances in technology encourage later bedtimes. The dark side of exposure to artificial light after dusk and before bedtime results in suppression of melatonin secretion. Key offenders are blue light emitting devices that include digital screens (TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets), fluorescent and LED lighting.
The ruining of the quality and quantity of your sleep disrupts your body’s natural rhythm and sleep–wake cycles. This is a risk factor for a variety of health problems including obesity and heart disease. No wonder it is said that sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together. You owe it to yourself to prioritize good sleep.
Adopt these simple and important game changers to reset your body clock and restore melatonin to its default setting:
- Avoid the bright screen of your smartphone by switching off internet 1-2 hours prior to your bedtime (Melatonin levels begin to rise about two hours before you sleep).
- Control your exposure to light – darken your bedroom by using heavy curtains to block outside light.
- Prevent large bright screen exposure by quitting late-night television.
- Instead of reading from your tablet, take a book to read.
- If your computer keeps you up late, consider using light altering software downloadable from the net.
Senior Faculty (Exercise Science)
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences
Fitness Icon Kaizzad Capadia