Sleep: The most underrated antioxidant

Have you ever wondered what is the importance of day and night, what is the role of sleep, how do we set a good circadian rhythm? Well, all this revolves around the hormone melatonin

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media


Have you ever wondered what is the importance of day and night, what is the role of sleep, how do we set a good circadian rhythm? Well all this revolves around the hormone melatonin!!

Setting up the circadian rhythm helps in production of good amounts of melatonin hormone. Melatonin does help in reducing the pigmentation, anti-ageing and also reduces hair fall so on and so forth.

Dr. Pallavi Sule, Dermatologist and Aesthetic Physician, starts by first explaining the meaning of Melatonin: "Melatonin is a hormone primarily secreted by the pineal gland which is known to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Usually it is consumed in the form of tablets to help people in jet lag, shift works by regulating the circadian cycle as a short term treatment for trouble in sleeping".

She explains:

How does melatonin get secreted?

The pineal gland is sensitive to light. When it is dark the body secretes more melatonin and prepares the body to sleep and when it is day/ light (artificial lights) the production of melatonin decreases. Low levels of the hormone give brain signals to stay awake.

So what's new about this hormone and why is it studied in more detail than before?

Sule said: "Melatonin is also known for its antioxidant benefits!! We all are living in a very stressful environment, be it the external or internal stressors like pollution, food consumed (adulteration), solar radiation, sleep patterns, work environments and so forth!! Any kind of stress releases free oxygen radicals in the body, which damages our DNA, causing degenerative diseases and autoimmune diseases. Oxidative damage also leads to aging and hair fall which we know is one of the major causes.Melatonin hormone serves as a potent antioxidant, presumptive anti aging substance and anti cancer agent."

Let's understand how sleeping according to the body clock helps our body in general health and well being!

Sule further elaborates on this imperative subject adding, "Maintaining good sleep hygiene and a good sleep quality has many advantages. The sleep wake cycle governs two hormones- Cortisol and Melatonin."

Release of Human Growth Hormone: Experts estimate that 75 per cent of this hormone is released during sleep. It is released in the Stage 3 of sleep cycle which is usually 1-1.5 hrs after one falls asleep. Sleep deprivation or altered cycles affects the release of this hormone. In children it will affect the growth and health.

Sleep and its relation with Liver: There is a great relationship between sleep cycles and liver functions. Scientific studies suggest that most patients with advanced liver diseases have disturbed sleep patterns. The liver has its own clock for detoxification and regulation of hormones. Disturbed sleep results in raised cortisol levels (stress levels) and vice versa. This hampers the regulation of hormones by the liver. Here, now the liver is overworked and cortisol levels in the body are high during daytime. This circulating cortisol hampers the liver's regulations of melatonin and so the melatonin hormone levels are also high during daytime. Resulting in day time fatigue and drowsiness, and night time alertness.

Finally, how can we increase melatonin levels?

"Many formulations are available in the market in the form of tablets and gels for topical application. But we must not forget the most important factor in production of the right amount of melatonin hormone in the body is sleep."

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