In the human body, alternation of sleep and wakefulness is controlled by epiphysis, or pineal gland - a tiny organ located in the center of the brain. In the daylight, it produces serotonin, also called a hormone of pleasure and happiness. However, when it gets dark outside, the pineal gland begins to produce another hormone - melatonin, which is responsible for healthy and restful sleep.
Being produced only at night and in complete darkness, melatonin helps us fall asleep and then restores our body, normalizing our nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems. What is more, this hormone has a rejuvenating effect and prolongs our lives. Melatonin shortage leads to stress, insomnia and can eventually link to serious health problems.
These problems can be avoided if follow the natural circadian rhythms, as our body was programmed. Melatonin is most actively produced from 12 to 2 am, so these two hours we need not just to relax but sleep a deep sleep, so that our body could produce enough melatonin for our recovery. The highest concentration of melatonin accumulated in our blood is in the early morning.
Our body cannot reserve melatonin for the future, and a portion generated during the night will last only until the evening. In addition, napping does not compensate night sleep. Therefore, even if you are trying to catch up on sleep during the day after a sleepless night, your body will not produce melatonin and your rest will not be regenerating. What can you do if there are too much streetlight coming in your window? First, it is necessary to close the window with thick dark curtains. If this is not possible for some reason, there is another way.
The fact is that darkness, as such, is not as important for our body as what tour eye’s retina perceives. Therefore, wearing a sleeping mask, you can trick your epiphysis and force it to produce melatonin, even with the lack of darkness in the room where you sleep (though, not in a daytime). Keep in mind that if you wake up at night and turn on the light, melatonin production stops, which is why it is difficult to fall asleep again.
The amount of melatonin produced by our body decreases with age. That is why babies sleep a lot, and the elderly people suffer from insomnia so often. Nevertheless, you can increase the production of this hormone at any age, at least to a small extent. For this purpose, follow a few conditions:
1. If possible, do not break your natural biological rhythms, stay awake in a daytime and sleep at night.
2. Try to spend more time out in a daytime. The natural day light contributes to the normal production of serotonin, without which our body cannot form enough melatonin.
3. Remember that many medications, coffee, alcohol and nicotine reduce the production of melatonin.
4. Include in your diet more foods containing the amino acid tryptophan, a building block for both serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is mostly contained in hard cheese, eggs, lean meat, beans, kidney beans and nuts. Melatonin itself can be obtained from corn, rice, oats, tomatoes and bananas.
Have a good sleep and strong health!