The darkness sends to our brain the signal that it is time to sleep, it is convenient to avoid the light stimuli, like the television or the mobile, before going to bed sleep better.
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating many biological functions (including sleep and wakefulness).
That is why it is essential to keep it balanced if we want to rest well and avoid some disorders as frequent as insomnia.
In this article, we tell you how to achieve it.
What to know about melatonin?
In the first place, it is fundamental to know a little about this important hormone. Melatonin plays many specific roles, such as regulating the sleep cycle. It occurs in the pineal gland of the brain at night. At that moment:
- It balances the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Relax the retinas.
- It participates in the liberation of free radicals.
It is distributed throughout the body and synchronizes circadian rhythms. So when melatonin levels are normal we can sleep and rest properly.
The main problem with this hormone is that when we are stressed and malnourished, we are too sedentary or expose ourselves to excessive artificial light during the night, their levels go down.
The result? Insomnia appears.
In addition, melatonin stimulates the production of growth hormone and repair of tissues and muscles.
This is why when we are young we need to sleep more than when we are adults. Also if we are sick or have trained too much in the gym, the body “asks” for more sleep.
As if all this were not enough, it also fulfills these functions:
- Regulates the appetite.
- It is involved in the development and functioning of the testicles and ovaries.
- It is a potent antioxidant.
- It improves the immune system by inhibiting the action of certain viruses and bacteria.
Melatonin and serotonin
We could say that these are “contrary” hormones but act together and so we need both to normalize.
- Just as melatonin is stimulated by darkness, serotonin does so with luminosity.
- Our retinas catch the sunlight and it reaches the pineal gland. At that moment it interrupts the production of melatonin and begins with the elaboration of serotonin.
The opposite happens when we are in the dark.
It is necessary to know that artificial light cannot substitute for the natural function of the sun.
This can explain, for example, why in winter we have more desire to stay in bed or to rest (in addition to the cold) and in the summer we get up with other energy and do many activities.
Check This Out: Is stress also guilty of high cholesterol?
When we do not have enough amount of serotonin in the body, the desire to consume certain caloric or unhealthy foods increases biscuits, sweets, chocolate, ice cream, etc.
A lack of melatonin produces insomnia and problems sleeping well. In turn, an excess of this hormone can cause drowsiness, lack of energy, lack of energy, etc.
We must also name another very “popular” hormone to understand the importance of melatonin and serotonin: cortisol.
The latter is known as “the stress hormone ” because it is precisely responsible for increasing or decreasing symptoms derived from it. It also has a great impact on the processes of sleep and wakefulness.
Some stressed people need more sleep and others cannot “glue” all night.
This is because cortisol has imbalanced the production of the hormones responsible for rest and action.
Foods that stimulate the production of melatonin
The diet is fundamental so that the levels of this hormone are normalized and we can sleep the recommended 7 or 8 hours per night.
Above all, it is advisable to consume tropical fruits, such as pineapple, or citrus fruits, such as orange.
We can also help the body to produce melatonin if we eat:
- Oats and barley
We can also improve melatonin levels by adding to our diet:
- Red wine
- Dairy products
Habits to regulate melatonin
In addition to carrying a balanced and healthy diet we recommend some habits that can serve to balance the levels of this hormone:
1. Sleep in a dark room
Your room must have blinds or curtains that prevent the entrance of light from outside. Even the ones on the street.
The penumbra gives the order to the brain that “it is time to sleep”. A room dark guarantees a pleasant and restful sleep.
2. Do not watch TV before bed
In addition to the lights emitted by this device, we must keep in mind that certain scenes, sounds or news “awaken” the mind and do not allow it to enter the stage of rest so easily.
So it would be good if you did not have a TV in your room. The same is true for mobile devices. Use them at most one hour before going to bed.
3. Exercise in the afternoon
The sport is very good for health and that nobody can deny it. However, when practiced at night the body and mind remain in “alert” mode for a longer time and may be difficult to fall asleep.
In the mornings it will be difficult for you to get up because the body did not have time to repair the damages caused by the exercise.
That’s why physical activity is best done at sunset.