The hormone of darkness - Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that helps you fall asleep by triggering feelings of drowsiness. Melatonin levels rise in reaction to darkness, coordinating with the circadian rhythm (a 24-hour cycle that governs physical activities) to prepare your body for the first stage of sleep, awake. Sleep quality can be harmed by low melatonin synthesis, making it difficult to fall asleep. Night shift workers, those with sleep disorders, and frequent travellers may have sleep disruptions and poor sleep quality, which can be connected to melatonin deficiency.
What regulates melatonin production?
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain's hypothalamus regulates melatonin release by coordinating the timing of biological activities. The SCN, which is located above the optic nerves that connect your brain to your eyes, determines however much melatonin it secretes based on the amount of light entering your eyes. When it gets darker outside, your body produces more melatonin, which makes you sleepy. If your circadian clock is out of whack, your body may produce irregular melatonin throughout the day, causing sleep-wake cycles to be disrupted or sleep disorders to develop.
The consequences of melatonin deficiency in the human body
Poor sleep quality
When it comes to enhancing your performance and concentration, sleep is one of the most significant components. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, plays an important role in your sleep. Restlessness, a poor stress reaction, sleeplessness, and waking up too early in the morning can all be indicators of a deficit.
Stress & anxiety
Cortisol (a stress hormone) levels are at their lowest around midnight, according to research. They will begin to rise two to three hours after you go to bed and will continue to rise throughout the night as you wake up. This demonstrates an inverse relationship between melatonin production and release and cortisol:
The levels of cortisol in the body decrease as the levels of melatonin in the body rise.
As the body's melatonin levels fall, the body's cortisol levels rise.
Thus, a person with a low melatonin level will tend to have a higher stress response & have a risk of an anxiety incidence.
Besides that, Melatonin also aids in the physiological stress response. During the stress response, the body's temperature, blood pressure, and hormone levels all rise. Melatonin is important in the regulation of these physiological factors, which assists the body in relieving stress.
Melatonin sends signals to the immune system, and the immune system "talks" back, according to researchers. This "cross-talk" helps to fine-tune and coordinate healthy immunity. It strengthens innate defences against a wide range of pathogens, including viruses and cancer cells.
Melatonin enhances the body's immunity in several ways:
Improving the responses of antibodies that "tag" specific viruses, bacteria, and other invaders to be attacked by various immune system components,
Reducing chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of nearly all age-related chronic diseases
Increasing T cell activity, which aids in the more efficient destruction of pathogens.
Accelerated ageing process
Melatonin aids in the slowing of the ageing process in tissues such as the brain. It protects all tissues in the body because of its' powerful antioxidant property.
Is a synthetic melatonin supplement your preferred option?
Melatonin supplements are not authorised for sale over the counter in countries like the UK, Ireland and also in Malaysia. Melatonin is a prescription-only medicine in these countries with the fact that melatonin is a hormone. Even though in some other countries it is available to buy in health food shops or online.
When you supplement a hormone (melatonin), you are interfering with your own body's biosynthesis process, which many people cannot tolerate, resulting in a lot of dreams and dizziness in the morning. The common side effects of synthetic melatonin include:
feeling sleepy or tired in the daytime
stomach ache or feeling sick (nausea)
feeling irritable or restless
dry or itchy skin
pains in your arms or legs
strange dreams or night sweats
Maize-derived ingredient, a safer alternative to synthetic melatonin
Maizinol, a natural ingredient derived from corn leaves (Zea mays), acts via the melatonin pathway. Its active compound structurally similar to melatonin, bind with the receptors and boosts the body's own melatonin biosynthesis, without having adverse effects like synthetic melatonin.
Maizinol was found to assist with sleep & stress-related symptoms. A clinical study showed the ingredient significantly increased deep-sleep time by 30 minutes when taken before bed. It has also shown a significant reduction (~30%) in cortisol levels in the early morning.
Maizinol is marketed under the brand The PrimAGE ReszGuard in Malaysia.