Melatonin, also widely termed as N-acetyl-5 methoxy tryptamine, acts the natural pacemaker for the human body. This hormone is produced in the pineal gland, which is situated in the centre of the brain.
The release of this hormone follows a precise rhythm. Night-time melatonin circulation levels are ten times of that during the daytime.
Not only that, melatonin circulation varies according to seasons as well. During autumn and winter, this hormone is secreted in large amounts, while the secretion reduces during spring and summer. One reason why melatonin secretion varies seasonally is attributed to the changing lengths of days and nights. Autumn and winter have longer nights than spring and summer. Therefore, the amounts of secretion of the hormone vary accordingly.
In other words, the secretion of the hormone depends a lot on the levels of light in one’s surroundings. The Suprachiasmatic Nuclei (SCN) in the brain centre drive the production sync. It is a reduction of light levels during the evening that tells pineal glands to perform their function of melatonin secretion.
Therefore, it is always advisable to keep light levels lowered during the night. Any fluctuation in these levels might lead to a disruption in the biological clock. Such disruption, in turn, ends up affecting regular human sleep schedule.
The light levels that affect melatonin are
- Blue light: Blue light is an enemy to melatonin secretion. Blue light emitted from televisions, computers, and cell phone screens subdue the production of the hormone. Therefore, keeping these devices away is always advisable by experts, during the night.
- Red light: Red lights do not affect melatonin secretion and circulation. This is why the colour red is preferred for bed lamps and night lamps.
Light sensitive receptors in the pupils of our eyes trigger precursors of melatonin secretion. Therefore, for people whose light receptors are weaker than normal, are advised to take supplements to regulate melatonin.
When does natural melatonin secretion become maximum?
Melatonin circulation begins increasing two hours before a person’s standard sleeping time. Consequently, to keep this secretion within normal levels, it is crucial for individuals to maintain a tight sleep schedule.
However, apart from regulating sleep schedules, melatonin regularises other bodily functions as well.
- Melatonin also helps regularise the female menstruation cycle. Melatonin keeps intact the regulation of hormones in the bloodstream.
- It is also an effective anti-oxidant. Presence of melatonin in the bloodstream increases production of anti-oxidising enzymes. These enzymes actively clean the cells and keep the bloodstream free of reactive oxygen species. Other than that, melatonin also reduces cellular damage to a great extent.
- Besides, melatonin is also anti-carcinogenic. Melatonin supplements increases production of tumor suppressor protein and acts against cancer stem cells. Therefore, it also serves to reduce their activity and makes them harmless.
Therefore, to sum up, melatonin as a hormone has numerous benefits to its credit. To keep melatonin levels in proper circulation, individuals must follow a healthy lifestyle. Further, their dietary habits must be healthy as well.