Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone”. It is a natural hormone that is made by your body. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The hormone is also found in different parts of the body such as the eyes, bone marrow and gut.
High levels of melatonin help the body fall asleep. However, melatonin itself won’t knock you out. It simply lets your body know that it is night-time, so you can relax, and it makes falling asleep easier.
Melatonin works together with your body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock. The circadian rhythm is responsible for letting you know when it is time to sleep, wake and eat.
When it is dark outside your body starts producing melatonin. When the melatonin levels start to rise it signals to your body that it is time to sleep. As melatonin helps your body prepare for sleep, people who don’t make enough of it at night can struggle to fall asleep.
Melatonin production is disturbed and postponed by multiple factors including:
- Exposure to too much light at night (including blue light)
- Not getting enough natural light during the day
- Shift work
Melatonin is an important hormone for the sleep process. Without the proper production of this hormone our bodies are unable to properly prepare for sleep. This in turn cuts into the amount of sleep we get and negatively impacts the quality sleep we do manage to get.