The hormone melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, which is located in the brain.
Melatonin is often called the “sleep hormone” but its benefits go way beyond sleep.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is derived from the amino acid tryptophan and is central to regulating the circadian rhythm, also known as your "body clock". It is also produced in other tissues, including cells of the immune system.
Melatonin was first discovered in 1958, and this pineal hormone is secreted abundantly in youth but declines with normal aging. It has long been used to treat various sleep disorders, including jet lag and insomnia, and to improve the overall quality of sleep.
In 1993 researchers found that melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that quenches free radicals. In fact, melatonin has been found to possess 200% more antioxidant power than vitamin E!
The numerous benefits of melatonin
Melatonin is important for healthy sleep, but its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities can also contribute to numerous anti-aging benefits:
- Helping regulate your body's internal clock (sleep cycle)
- Signaling when wind down for the night and when to get up in the morning
- Supporting and enhancing the immune system
- Fighting chronic, low-grade inflammation that happens with age
- Helping regulate and balance bone formation and bone loss
- Regulating sirtuins, proteins that play a role in cellular health
- Studies show melatonin can support youthful mitochondrial function and cell DNA
- Improving memory, cognitive function, and the formation of new brain cells
As melatonin levels diminish with age, boosting melatonin levels as part of a nightly regimen may therefore help improve sleep, rejuvenate immune function, restore mitochondrial function, and protect the aging brain & body.
Melatonin supplements generally range in milligrams from less than 1 to 10. There are also differences in melatonin administration, with immediate- and prolonged-release formulas.
It is advisable to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before taking this hormone and if you continue to have sleep issues. They might be able to help you identify sleep habits that need changing.