What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in the body by the pineal gland, a reddish-gray endocrine gland that’s about the same size as a pea and is shaped like a tiny pine cone. It’s located near the center of the brain between the two hemispheres where the two halves of the thalamus are joined together.
The pineal gland secretes melatonin in sync with our circadian rhythms. Melatonin’s primary function in the body is to regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Normally, our melatonin levels begin to rise as it gets later in the day as our pineal gland begins to produce, more of the hormone in the mid-to-late evening. Then, during the night, our pineal gland secretes our highest levels of melatonin and they remain high for most of the night.
By early morning, when the sun begins to lighten up our day our pineal gland cuts back on melatonin production, telling our body to wake up and be ready for a new day. As we get older, our natural levels of melatonin slowly begin to drop. Children seem to have the highest levels of the hormone while some elderly adults make very small amounts of it or none at all.
In addition to getting older, stress, chemicals, and especially adrenal stress can deliver a big hit to melatonin production. Addressing this often takes a nutritional approach The ingredients in Dr. Harris Methylation Essentials Melatonin are balanced out in a phytonutrient matrix to nutritionally support healthy sleep and methylation.
The type of food you eat and how much will always be at the core of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Nothing can replace making good food decisions, not even trying to out-exercise your meals. Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body. But what goes on top of the foundation? The rest of the structure.
Sleep is a big part of weight management and overall health, yet so many of us are hard pressed to get enough. It’s often not a big enough priority, or stress sabotages our natural circadian rhythm. And if you’re holding on to extra pounds, you’re going to want to make sleep and de-stressing a priority.
Here are four ways sleep helps us reach and maintain a healthy body weight.
1. Adequate sleep reduces hunger cravings
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study done at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours.
A second study found that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. And in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.
We crave these particular foods because of the hormonal changes brought on by poor sleep, particularly the hunger-control hormone ghrelin increases, the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin decreases, and the stress hormone cortisol may increase, stimulating your appetite.
2. Sleep reduces the risk of building insulin resistance
Within just four days of insufficient sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin--a hormone needed to convert food into energy--takes a massive decline. Insulin sensitivity, the researchers found, dropped by more than 30%.
When your body doesn't respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.
In one study on Sleep disorders and the development of insulin resistance and obesity conducted by the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, researchers found that, “Sleep duration has decreased over the last several decades, and with this have come cross-sectional and longitudinal data suggesting a link between short sleep duration and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes... Also, they found that circadian misalignment caused significant insulin resistance and elevations of blood pressure.”
3. Sleep lowers cortisol
Your body develops a rhythm with cortisol release that relies on sleep to keep it under control and in homeostasis. When cortisol levels remain too high for too long, it starts harming you, instead of helping you, including your ability to sleep well. When you get enough sleep, it allows your body to recover and lower cortisol levels.
4. Sleep repairs your body
Your body repairs itself on a daily basis, the vast majority of those occurring ONLY during deep sleep. This includes weight management. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well-rested.
Repair processes that occur only during deep sleep:
- Body makes more white blood cells
- Releases hormones that promote tissue growth
- Blood pressure lowers
- Recharges energy levels
- Blood supply to muscles increases
Ways You Inadvertently Sabotage Sleep
Research reports that 85% of all sleep problems are lifestyle-related and curable by following healthy habits. Here is a list of things that sabotage your chances of getting a good night’s sleep:
- Prescription medications
- Poor diet
- High caffeine intake
- Eating late
- Going to bed at different times every night
- Doing work projects while in bed/bedroom
- Watching TV from bed
- Allowing kids or pets to sleep with you
- An uncomfortable mattress
- Not getting exercise during the day
- Having too much light in the room
Before you focus solely on supplements to get a good night’s sleep, I highly recommend you cross-reference this list with your life and see if you need to make any changes. Once you can rule out all of the above, you have a much clearer idea of what’s potentially going wrong.
Harris Essential Melatonin
In addition to getting older, stress, chemicals, and especially adrenal stress can deliver a big hit to melatonin production. Addressing this often takes a nutritional approach. The ingredients in Dr. Harris Methylation Essentials Melatonin are balanced out in a phytonutrient matrix to nutritionally support healthy sleep and methylation.
Essential Melatonin vs Optimal REM Sleep
Optimal REM sleep is the standard go-to when you have sleep troubles and need to nutritionally help your body recover. Essential Melatonin takes things a step further, zeroing in on melatonin with a therapeutic dose of melatonin.
Methylated melatonin not only helps improve sleep but it also allows your body to properly regulate melatonin production on its own once again.