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Meaning of melatonin, the sleep hormone

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Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body synchronize with a 24-hour rhythm. In humans, it increases at night and decreases during the day, facilitating falling asleep and maintaining a correct sleep-wake rhythm, which can be a bit upsetting with the advent of daylight saving time. Melatonin is produced fromepiphysisa small gland in the center of the brain, under the control of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, through the action of the sympathetic nervous system,” he explains Matthew Kerry, Professor of Neurophysiology at the University of Bologna. “Its production is very sensitive to light, inhibiting it, so using screens before bed or strong lighting can alter its production, impacting sleep and circadian rhythm in general. How melatonin promotes sleep is not clear, but it probably does not act directly on the sleep centers. More likely, the increase in melatonin in the evening tells the body to reduce its metabolic activity, putting it in the best conditions for sleep.”

Melatonin is not a sleeping pill

The concentration of melatonin changes with age: it is highest in infants, high in young people, and decreases with age. Please note, melatonin is not a sleeping pill but a sleeping pill hypno-inducingthat is, a substance that helps shortens the time to fall asleep by about 8-10 minutes. However, it is not suitable for people suffering from sleep disorders, even at high doses. In general, melatonin is used to resynchronize the sleep-wake rhythm, for example when you have sleep problems related to jet lag or precisely to time changes in spring or autumn

Effects of sleep deprivation on body weight

Although this data is still controversial, part of the scientific community believes that the number of hours of sleep per day has decreased significantly and that this is related to other changes that have occurred over the same period, such as the so-called “obesity epidemic». “It’s possible that the reduced sleep could be causing us to gain weight,” Cerri continues. “There are experiments that suggest that the sleep deprivation produces one circadian desynchronization in the production of several important hormones, such as cortisol, leptin and ghrelin, which promote appetite and thus food intake. Although these mechanisms have been demonstrated in the laboratory, it is not clear how much impact sleep deprivation actually has on weight gain. According to some authors, these effects would be negligible overall and the cause of the obesity epidemic should therefore be sought elsewhere.”

Source: Corriere

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