What is it?
Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland — but with a catch. If vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” (it’s also a hormone), then melatonin might be thought of as the moon-phase nutrient.
Why is that? Because how much melatonin is released by the pineal depends on how much uninterrupted darkness you get during your sleep time.
Where is it from?
The body creates melatonin from tryptophan, an amino acid the body needs, in a multi-step process. Besides the brain, melatonin is made in quantity by the intestines. The skin, bone marrow, and other tissues (even cells’ own powerhouses — the mitochondria) also produce melatonin. It’s additionally found in breastmilk, and in plants like feverfew herb, algae, cherries, ginger, walnuts, and oats.
What does it do?
Melatonin is in charge of setting activity and resting rhythms for all the cells and organs in the body, including the brain and the digestive system.
Melatoning also helps regulate how well immune function keeps up with new challenges when the seasons change.
Because of its strength as a protective antioxidant, melatonin levels within cells help determine whether they are able to perform healthful rejuvenation processes.
Common lifestyle factors can really influence your melatonin production. For instance:
Artificial lighting (especially at night, and especially the blue light from your devices) can disrupt it.
Having a regular schedule of sufficient light exposure followed by sufficient dark exposure is THE main way to aid natural melatonin release.
Caffeine — especially too much, or too close to sleep — can lower natural production.
Night-time meditation may increase melatonin levels.