The Chemistry Behind Sleep

We all have had those tossing, turning, exhausting nights that last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you struggle with any type of sleep disorder you are fully aware of the negative affects it may have on your productivity and performanc in life as well as your health.

When sleep is interrupted it could be a number of things, but before you turn to a “magic” pill that promises you a rejuvenating nights rest, make sure your “biological clock” is being maintained.

A key factor in how human sleep is regulated is based on circadian rhythms which should be viewed as the master clock that controls the sleep-wake cycle. It is set by visual commands of light and darkness. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway to the circadian clock (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus) that tells other parts of the brain that controls hormones, body temperature and other functions that make us feel sleepy or awake.
A major hormone that is under rule by this clock is Melatonin which is a natural hormone your body produces in the Pineal Gland located in the brain.

Melatonin levels rise in the mid to late evening, making sleep more inviting. This hormone is called the “Dracula of Hormones” only coming out at night, or in dark where natural light and some artificial light can be bright enough to prevent the release of melatonin making it difficult to fall or stay asleep.

Because Melatonin is a hormone that is part of the human wake-sleep cycles, some individuals with sleep deprivation find that taking a small dose in a pill form has helped them fall asleep or stay asleep longer. Some studies also show a decrease in the time it takes to fall asleep and reduce the amount of awakenings throughout the night.

Melatonin may be helpful to shift workers on an irregular shift who need to adjust their sleeping patterns, as well as jet lag. When traveling across time zones, your body has a hard time adjusting to “home time” and the new time. Jet lag is a physical condition that can make you feel hungry, sleepy and alert all at the wrong times and is caused by a disturbance of our “master clock” (circadian rhythms) associated with sleep deprivation. For this dietary supplement to be helpful, the correct dosage, method and time of day it is taken must be appropriate. Taking it the “wrong” way may reset your biological clock in an undesirable direction.

If you suffer from any of these exhausting symptoms, there’s hope without having to turn to a prescription. You can find this natural dietary supplement in your local health food store and you can finally be on your way to the restorative nights sleep you have been dreaming of.