How do melatonin levels affect sleep?

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Natasha Turner, ND
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

Melatonin is the hormone that is produced when we sleep in complete darkness, and it allows our bodies to go into deep, recuperative, immune-enhancing sleep. Watch naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner, ND, explain how melatonin affects sleep. 

Melatonin plays a critical role in synchronizing the body's biological clock, and regulating its sleep-wake cycle. The rise-and-fall cycle of melatonin release is critical to our ability to sleep at night. A disruption in the body's ability to produce melatonin will lead to disordered sleep.
Exposure to bright light prevents the secretion of melatonin and darkness promotes it. Typically, within one to two hours after the sunset, you will begin to feel drowsy as the melatonin levels rise. This is the body's signal to go to sleep. By midnight your melatonin levels have peaked and there is a gradual decline in melatonin levels after midnight.
 
At 10 p.m., your body goes through a transformation following the rise in melatonin production. This transformational phase of sleep is associated with an increase in the "internal" metabolic activity that is responsible for the repair and restoration of your body. A reduction of your mental and physical activity is necessary for this 10 p.m. shift to occur. If you are still awake, the "second wind" phenomenon occurs at 10 p.m. because there is a rise in mental activity and energy at this time. However, the true value of the "second wind" can only be experienced if you are asleep by 10 p.m.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.