How melatonin makes you sleep

written by Meena Azzollini

young woman sleeping on her bed

Credit:123RF

People are losing sleep as life gets more hectic and fast-paced.

In fact most people are so engrossed in their work, that sleep is forgotten which causes a wide variety of health issues.

Research reveals that more than 1.5 million Australians suffer from some type of  sleep disorder.

But there is nothing more important than sleep, and while we ignore cues to get a good night’s sleep, mechanisms in our body are causing havoc with our health.

We know that melatonin, a hormone, is important to fall asleep and many people turn to melatonin supplements to help them sleep.

They found that when melatonin was infused in the brain at dark – when the mice were awake and active, it increased sleep and reduced wakefulness.

But scientists are unclear about how melatonin promotes sleep.

Researchers from the University Of Missouri School Of Medicine conducted four experiments using a mouse model.

They found that when melatonin was infused in the brain at dark – when the mice were awake and active, it increased sleep and reduced wakefulness. The melatonin suppressed  orexin neurons – which stimulate the brain to wake up.

The researchers also discovered that blocking melatonin receptors in the brain at bedtime increased wakefulness.

The study isolated one receptor called the MT1 as the mechanism through which melatonin inhibits specific orexin neurons which wake you up.

This is an important discovery as now medications can be developed which targets only one receptor rather than all receptors, leading to fewer side effects for those who take sleep-inducing drugs.

We now know that sleep is very important for our health and while the focus has been on getting more sleep, it’s important to get quality sleep for optimum health.

Source: Journal of Pineal Research


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Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!