At the forefront of a chain of sleep onset signals is the famous night hormone melatonin. This hormone is produced in the pineal gland at the back of the brain and is secreted mainly when it is dark. Its appearance in the blood is perceived as one of the most important signs for the body to then enter the rhythm of sleep. The feeling of sleepiness increases and the heart rate decreases. In addition to being important in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, it protects cellular DNA from the effects of free radicals, stimulates the immune system, improves our resistance to stress and pathological conditions, and simultaneously reduces cortisone levels. It also contributes to the regeneration of connective tissues and the protection of the cardiovascular system.
What you need to know
The production of melatonin varies quantitatively during the twenty-four hours according to the heart rate, reaching its maximum value between 1:00 and 5:00 in the evening. The normal nighttime concentration in the blood guarantees a constructive sleep, as it manages during the REM phase to adapt to the body's needs by improving self-protection and cell regeneration. It acts even more effectively than vitamins on the various forms of free radicals. In addition, it has a strong antioxidant effect. Changes in mood during the day are associated with changes in melatonin levels. Caution is required at the ages of 40-45, where melatonin secretion decreases.
'The book of sleep' (2008), Spork Peter
Considering its antioxidant functions and its influence on sleep quality, melatonin is a key element in physical and mental rejuvenation. In addition to melatonin that is produced naturally in our body, there are also foods that contain it such as cherries, almonds, sunflower seeds, orange peppers, mustard, tomato and fenugreek seeds. Alternatively there are pure melatonin supplements which are often used in combination with other herbs such as valerian. A variety of food options and an evening melatonin supplement especially during the hours of 10:00-10:30 PM can be extremely helpful for anyone who experiences sleep difficulties or severe jet lag. Of course, the advice of the health specialist attending you is essential.