by Cathy Simmons, Weight Loss Consultant
Recent studies suggest a connection between how much sleep a person gets and their ability to maintain a healthy weight. As people get older, they may have more trouble getting a good night’s rest.
While some of this may be a result of stress or other environmental factors, decreasing melatonin levels in the body can also play a role. By taking melatonin supplements, you can get a better night’s sleep and make it easier for your body to maintain a healthy weight.
Melatonin is produced naturally in the brain’s pineal gland. It makes us feel drowsy and tells our body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. When we feel sleepy in the evening, it’s because melatonin levels are rising as the body prepares itself for sleep.
Melatonin levels stay elevated during the night to help us stay asleep. Melatonin levels decrease as dawn approaches, which signals to the body that it’s time to wake up.
Sufficient melatonin levels are needed for the body to properly regulate its sleeping and waking cycles. If melatonin levels in the body are too low, sleeplessness or insomnia can occur. Those persons lacking enough melatonin may notice they have trouble falling asleep or to staying asleep.
As human beings age, melatonin levels will gradually decrease, which makes sleeplessness more common. There are actually some older individuals whose bodies produce little or no melatonin at all.
Melatonin can be of benefit to people in the current high-stress, sleep-deprived modern world. Ask people how much better they feel after a good night’s sleep, and they’ll tell you it makes all the difference. Every aspect of life becomes easier when one’s mind and body have been refreshed after a good night’s sleep.
Researchers have confirmed a connection between low levels of melatonin in the body and a tendency to gain weight, particularly in the abdominal region. Getting a good night’s rest is more difficult when melatonin levels are low. This lack of sleep leads to tiredness and irritability.
Chronic sleeplessness also increases the body’s secretion of hormones like cortisol, leptin and ghrelin. Elevated levels of these hormones can cause a person to gain weight and will also make losing weight a lot more difficult.
With regards to weight gain in middle age, melatonin production decreases as we get older. Since melatonin plays an important role in helping people to fall asleep, this could explain why older individuals gain weight as the years go by.
There is some evidence to suggest melatonin can be beneficial in slowing down the aging process. In addition, melatonin appears to provide cardiovascular health benefits. The healthy heart benefits of melatonin come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Factor in weight loss, and you can see why taking melatonin supplements is increasing in popularity.
Low melatonin levels in the body can be brought back to normal levels over time. Fundamentally, melatonin levels are affected by the amount of light the body receives. That’s why going outdoors in the sunshine naturally increases melatonin levels.
There are also certain foods that contain melatonin. Eating cottage cheese, tuna, oatmeal and soy nuts can help increase melatonin levels, so try to incorporate these into your diet. Remember that a healthy diet supports beautiful hair and skin.
Melatonin dietary supplement tables are also a good way to increase the amount of this hormone in the body. You may want to consult a medical professional before taking melatonin tablets to assure you understand the correct dosage for your particular circumstances.
Taking melatonin capsules can help people get a good night’s sleep of longer duration. But there is a risk of melatonin side effects. For example, some people say they feel groggy the following morning and have trouble concentrating. Some other side effects can include upset stomach, headaches and extremely vivid dreams while asleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy body weight. Melatonin and weight loss are connected because when you sleep better, it is easier to lose weight due to the body being in a healthier and more balanced state.
When we don’t sleep well, food cravings and other unhealthy eating habits tend to emerge. When we feel tired or lacking energy during the day, we are tempted to reach for a candy bar or some other sugary “pick me up.” This leads directly to overeating and weight gain.
That’s why taking melatonin to help you sleep better is actually an effective and natural weight loss supplement. When you are well-rested and feeling fresh, you won’t binge on comfort foods or sugar-filled snacks. Sticking with your diet plan is a lot easier as a result!
(published February 23, 2011)