Melatonin is a vital hormone, it plays a central role in your sleep-wake cycle but it also has a number of other functions in the body as well. When you are sleep deprived you become deficient in melatonin, which can have a range of knock on effects.
Just as melatonin helps you sleep, a lack of sleep can deprive the body of this important hormone and amongst other things melatonin is one of the most powerful anti-oxidant free radical scavengers that we know of and without it you are not looking good.
Melatonin is made mostly in the pineal gland during darkness when you are asleep, meaning that if you are not getting enough sleep then you are not producing this essential hormone. The less melatonin you have in your body the more compromised your immune system is and the more likely you will get sick and stay sick.
For a long time we have known how bad sleep deprivation is, but understanding how melatonin works is the key to unlocking the truth about the consequences of this oh so modern malady. Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an endless list of problmes including, various cancers, periodontal disease, memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, autism, hair loss, hearing loss, hypertension, herpes, chlamydia and many more.
Melatonin works as an antioxidant rich free radical scavenger, meaning that it is the body’s search and destroy weapon for “sick” cells. When a cell dies it will sometimes release dangerous toxins into the body (depending on the reason that it has died). Melatonin acts by helping to kill the sick cells in the body while protecting the other cells from being sick and from any dangerous toxins that are released.
A good analogy is that melatonin works likes your computer’s antivirus and when you sleep it is like you are downloading the latest update for your antivirus. Without sleep your antivirus is out of date and your body is vulnerable to viruses.
The less sleep you get the lower your melatonin levels and the more nights you get less than optimal sleep the worse the situation becomes. Even a single night without good sleep can leave you open to sickness or can delay your healing process. The longer it goes on the worse it gets.
To make things even worse, bright light can impact the production of melatonin. This was fine back before humans invented artificial light, but with the advent of light bulbs and, more recently, smart phones we have really started affecting our melatonin levels.
If you want to stay healthy and happy then you need to get enough sleep. This means being serious about ensuring that you sleep enough each night. It means sticking to a schedule and it means avoiding using your smart phone in bed. Seriously. If you are not motivated enough go back and read that list of ailments. That should do it.
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