The main production of melatonin occurs in the pineal gland. Even though most would believe that it does not have a big role to play in human physiology, it’s a fact that melatonin has serious effects when taken as a medication. N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine is the chemical name for melatonin. Here, we aim to throw light on the properties, use, and significance of melatonin in your body. Read on to know more.
Melatonin – An Overview
Produced by different types of tissues present in your body, melatonin is primarily produced in the brain, the pineal gland to be specific. It owes its natural production to amino acid tryptophan after dusk. In other words, melatonin is naturally generated by the pineal gland during night time, once reduced light starts entering your eyes. The signals sent by the optic nerves to the pineal gland state that darkness has fallen and the secretion should begin.
The role of melatonin in humans is varied. It is mainly responsible for inducing sleep in them. Dr. Todd Watts of MicrobeFormulas.com says that leaky gut is a digestive condition that is commonly associated with deficient levels of melatonin presence within the digestive tract. Interestingly, the production and secretion of melatonin occur in clear daily (circadian) rhythms, with the maximum production taking place at night. Once melatonin is produced, signals are conveyed to different organs after the process of secretion begins in the cerebrospinal fluid and the bloodstream. Once it reaches the brain, melatonin is carried to all other parts of the body thereafter through the circulatory system. The daytime concentration of melatonin in the system is at least 10 folds lesser than what it is during the daytime.
Why is Melatonin Essential?
Mammals, bird species, and most other animals require adequate production of melatonin in their pineal glands to regulate the body’s response to the changes in the length of days. Their seasonal biology, about behavior, reproduction, and coat growth, is influenced by how and when melatonin is produced. During puberty, there is a decrease in the levels of melatonin produced at nighttime. It is possible to detect the levels of melatonin in circulation through specialized tests conducted on the blood and saliva samples of humans. The reports may be utilized for further clinical research and analysis to ascertain internal circadian rhythms.
In most cases, the research for functions carried out by the pineal gland is related to the brain’s responses to the rhythms of melatonin. The extent of nocturnal melatonin secretion is responsible for initiating and maintaining sleep patterns. It also controls the day/night rhythms of melatonin in line with other 24-hour rhythms. Often referred to as the hormone that induces sleep, even though there is no essential connection between sleep and melatonin, its secretion does lay down the grounds for better quality sleep.
Melatonin Secretion and Sleep Patterns
The night-time production of melatonin is relatively reduced by dim light entering the eyes as the pupil gets dilated. This is one of the primary reasons why night time use of laptops and smartphone is discouraged by medical practitioners and researchers. The prolonged use of such devices, just before bedtime, is known to have negative impacts on circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, and melatonin secretion. Therefore, it’s recommended that the use of light-emitting devices is curtailed or stopped at least an hour before you intend to sleep. This enables better quality sleep and you can wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Administration of Melatonin
Along with the quantities of melatonin produced by the body and secreted into your brain, you can supplement the hormone by taking it in the form of capsules. It’s important to stick to the dosage recommended by health care specialists to gain the best results. Clinically, melatonin is administered for managing jet lags, symptoms of insomnia related to old age, and the problems linked to shift work. As per medical practitioners, if administered during the suggested times, melatonin capsules can bring about a change in the circadian rhythms of the body. Melatonin resets circadian rhythms to help you manage sleep disorders in a better way. These effects of melatonin in your body may be different as per dose strength. This is inclusive of how the dose strength equals the levels of melatonin (produced the natural way) by the pineal gland. The circadian rhythms can be reset by consuming higher dose strength of melatonin. This lowers the core body temperature to aid sleepiness.
The ‘master’ circadian bio clock is responsible for the everyday pineal melatonin production in mammals, including humans. Located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei area of the brain, this clock presents a series of ‘clock genes’ that undergo continuous oscillations across the day. These oscillations are synced to the solar day through the light entering the eyes. The suprachiasmatic nuclei are connected to the pineal gland via a complicated pathway that exists in the nervous system. It passes through different areas of the brain, goes through the spinal cord, and reaches the pineal gland. When there’s light, the suprachiasmatic nuclei do not produce melatonin production; this is done by sending across inhibitory signals to the pineal gland. However, when night sets, the activity levels of the suprachiasmatic nuclei reduce drastically. The inhibitions present in the day also reduces, thereby increasing the production of melatonin by the pineal gland.
Light is an important and essential regulator for the production of melatonin in the pineal gland. It can influence a specific area (suprachiasmatic nuclei clock) present in the brain to control the time and levels of melatonin production. At the same time, any exposure to even the slightest light reduces melatonin production and its release during the biological night of the body.
Melatonin Deficiency – What Happens?
There are no visible effects of reduced melatonin production on human health. However. It’s essential to keep a close tab on the signs related to melatonin deficiency that include sleep problems, restless legs, mood changes, and so forth. You may want to have further consultations with your health care expert in case you’re experiencing any of these problems. It’s important to take care of the levels of melatonin in your body, always.