Insomnia? What You Need To Know About Melatonin & Circadian Rhythm

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Insomnia can have profound effects on your life and particularly on your health. According to Healthline, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain and high blood pressure, as well as increase your risks of diabetes and heart disease. Sometimes, insomnia is a symptom of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which occurs when your body's internal sleep-wake cycle is not synchronized with the light-dark cycle.

In some, external issues may cause this desynchronization, such as shift work or jet lag. In others, the cause is internal and caused by a hormone released by the pituitary gland called melatonin. Here's what you need to know. 

What Is Entrainment of Melatonin?

One of the medical terms you will become familiar with is entrainment of melatonin. This means that the release of melatonin is determined by the light-dark cycle of the circadian rhythm. In healthy individuals who sleep during the night and are awake during the day, melatonin is released during the night. When sleep is disturbed due to external issues, such as working night shift, melatonin is suppressed. 

Why Is Melatonin Important? 

Melatonin is important and plays a role in various systems in the body, in addition to the circadian rhythm processes. It regulates fat cells, protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as acute pancreatitis, and is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also forms complexes and has a role in the immune system. 

Can Melatonin Activity Be Tested? 

Since melatonin is synchronized to the light-dark cycle, your body's melatonin levels will be different at various times of the day and night. For this reason, testing to determine the melatonin activity is done at three different yet structured times within one 24-hour cycle, such as starting at midnight and testing every eight hours through the course of a 24-hour period. Fortunately, melatonin is found in saliva, which makes melatonin testing easy and convenient. You won't need to run out to a clinic or lab every eight hours to complete the testing. 

Can Melatonin Supplements Help Your Insomnia? 

If it's found that your melatonin is suppressed, your physician will be able to determine how much melatonin your body needs based on the results of the tests. Melatonin supplements should be taken at bedtime; however, if you are on shift work, your physician will suggest a time frame in which to take the supplement so it will be the most effective for you to help with your insomnia. Visit a melatonin testing service like Pan Laboratories to learn more.