Mighty Melatonin By Mrs Vera West
Many of our older readers are taking melatonin hormones medications, not the stuff from the health food shop, to aid in sleep, not just to re-establish normal rhythms, and I can say that it works well. But, there are other benefits too:
“In a combined effort, scientists from universities in Brazil and Italy sought to identify the role melatonin may have in improving disorders commonly found in those who are obese. The researchers used mice who were induced to become obese and treated them for 10 weeks with melatonin. The objective was to determine if the hormone could effectively delay or block the damage from eating too much. The researchers found multiple results supporting their theory that melatonin supplementation could have a significant effect on the animals, including reducing triglyceride levels and total and LDL cholesterol levels. They also found that supplementation prevented larger weight gain by reducing the formation of fat tissue and increasing the capacity to break down white fat. This combination of effects helped to prevent the hypertrophy of fat cells caused by excessive eating. Additionally, the researchers noted the supplementation reduced a characteristic inflammatory process found in obese subjects where macrophages infiltrate adipose tissue. The mice also experienced a reduction in inflammatory related factors through a decrease in gene expression. Overall, at the end of the 10-week trial, the group of mice eating an excessive amount without melatonin gained 49% body mass over the control group that ate a normal diet. The group of mice supplemented with melatonin increased their body mass 28% over the control group, but 13% lower than the group eating excess food without melatonin. The researchers believe the data suggest that melatonin could be considered as a therapeutic agent to help mitigate the metabolic and inflammatory conditions triggered in those who are obese.
The Importance of Melatonin to Sleep/Wake Cycles
As with many hormones and chemicals in the body, melatonin has more than one function. The best known role it plays is in controlling your sleep/wake cycle. This well-publicized function may be due to the fact that sleep plays a significant role in your overall physical and mental health. An estimated 40% of Americans are sleep deprived every day, with many people getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night. Millions struggle to fall asleep and others find it challenging to stay asleep. Some wake up too early in the morning. There are a number of hazards associated with sleep deprivation; you can read about these in my past article, “Nobel Prize-Winning Science Highlights Importance of Good Sleep for Health.” Melatonin is a marker your body uses to influence what time of day or night it thinks it is. This happens regardless of the actual time. During a normal night of sleep, levels stay elevated for about 12 hours. As the sun rises, the pineal gland reduces production until the level in your blood is hardly measurable. If you experience disruption to your circadian rhythms, your body will produce less melatonin and you will experience poor quality sleep. This can happen to those who work the night shift, have jet lag or are exposed to light during the night.”
If psycho-political neurosis is leading to you having insomnia, it may be time to talk to your doctor about melatonin.