Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating many biological functions (including the process of sleep and wakefulness).
That is why it is essential to keep it balanced if we want to rest well and avoid some disorders as frequent as insomnia.
In this article we tell you how to achieve it.
What to know about melatonin
In the first place, it is essential to know a little about this important hormone.
Melatonin performs many specific functions, such as regulating the sleep cycle.
It is produced in the of the brain during the night. At that moment:
- It balances the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Relax the retinas.
- Participate in the release of free radicals.
It is distributed throughout the body and synchronizes circadian rhythms . Thus, when the melatonin levels are normal we can sleep and rest properly.
The main problem with this hormone is that when we are stressed and poorly fed, we are too sedentary or we are exposed to excessive artificial light during the night, their levels go down.
The result? Insomnia appears.
In addition, melatonin stimulates the production of growth hormone and repair of tissues and muscles.
This is the reason why when we are small we need more sleep than when we are adults. Also if we are sick or have trained too much in the gym, the body “asks” for more sleep.
As if all this was not enough, it also fulfills these functions:
- Regulate the appetite.
- It is involved in the development and functioning of the testicles and
- It is a powerful antioxidant.
- Improves the immune system by inhibiting the action of certain viruses and bacteria.
Melatonin and serotonin
We could say that these are “contrary” hormones but that they act together and that is why we need both to normalize.
- Just as melatonin is stimulated by darkness, serotonin does so with luminosity.
- Our retinas capture the sunlight and it reaches the pineal gland. At that moment, it interrupts the production of melatonin and begins with the production of
The opposite happens when we are in the dark.
It is necessary to know that artificial light can not replace the function of the natural one coming from the sun.
This can explain, for example, why in winter we have more desire to stay in bed or rest (in addition to the cold) and in summer we get up with another energy and do many activities.
When we do not have enough serotonin in the body, the desire to consume certain caloric or unhealthy foods increases: cookies, sweets, chocolate, ice cream, etc.
A lack of melatonin causes us insomnia and problems sleeping well. In turn, an excess of this hormone can cause drowsiness, reluctance, lack of energy, etc.
We must also name another very “popular” hormone to understand the importance of melatonin and serotonin: cortisol.
Some stressed people need more sleep and others can not “stick an eye” all night.
This is because cortisol has unbalanced the production of the hormones responsible for rest and action.
Foods that stimulate the production of melatonin
The diet is essential so that the levels of this hormone normalize and we can sleep the recommended 7 or 8 hours per night.
Above all it is advisable to consume tropical fruits, such as pineapple, or citrus, such as orange.
We can also help the body to produce melatonin if we eat:
- Oats and barley
We can also improve melatonin levels by adding to our diet:
- Red wine
- Dairy products
Habits to regulate melatonin
In addition to eating a balanced and healthy diet we recommend some habits that can be used to balance the levels of this hormone:
1. Sleeping in a dark room
Your room should have blinds or curtains that prevent the entry of light from outside . Even those on the street.
2. Do not watch television before sleeping
In addition to the lights that this device emits, we must bear in mind that certain scenes, sounds or news “awaken” the mind and do not allow it to enter the resting stage so easily.
That’s why it would be good if you did not have a television in your room. The same is applicable for mobile devices. Use them, at the most, one hour before going to bed.
3. Exercise in the afternoon
The sport is very good for the health and that nobody can deny it. However, when practiced at night the body and mind remain in “alert” mode for longer and may be difficult to sleep.
That’s why it ‘s better for physical activity to end at sunset .