In the realm of health and well-being, few bodily functions hold as much significance as sleep and gut health. The intricacies of the human body never cease to amaze, and the fascinating connection between these two vital aspects—the sleep hormone melatonin and the gut microbiome—is no exception.
Known for its role in regulating sleep-wake cycles, melatonin is often referred to as the “sleep hormone.” However, recent research has shed light on melatonin’s influence beyond our slumber, revealing its remarkable impact on the gut. Join us as we navigate through the realms of sleep and gut health, seeking to understand the vital interplay between these two fundamental pillars of human health.
All About Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland. It plays an important role in sleep by helping regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain automatically adjusts the amount of melatonin it produces and releases throughout the day, increasing its supply when it is dark and decreasing the supply when it is light. While having high levels of melatonin in your system can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, it’s interesting to note that the presence of this hormone isn’t required for sleeping, it just helps you sleep better.
While melatonin is most commonly known for its role in sleep, it also has other important jobs throughout the body that scientists are only just now starting to research, and one of those jobs may have something to do with the gut microbiome.
All About Gut Health
The gut microbiome is a diverse microbial community that is home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms including bacteria and fungi. Your gut microbiome starts forming the minute you are born and continues to change and serve you throughout your whole life.
This intricate community of microorganisms plays a fundamental role in maintaining gut health as well as overall well-being. These microbes are involved in essential functions such as breaking down complex carbohydrates, aiding in nutrient absorption, and producing certain vitamins, hormones, and short-chain fatty acids. Additionally, the gut microbiome contributes to the regulation of the immune system, helping to differentiate between harmful pathogens and beneficial substances. It also plays a role in influencing the production of various neurotransmitters that impact mood and cognition. A balanced and diverse gut microbiome is crucial for optimal digestion, nutrient utilization, immune response, and even aspects of mental health, highlighting the significant role it plays in promoting overall health.
The Connection Between Melatonin and the Gut
One of the biggest reasons that scientists are beginning to explore the potential functions of melatonin in other areas of the body, especially the gut, is that they have found that the gut has 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland, which indicates that this “sleep hormone” may have some important role to play throughout the digestive system.
While there is still much research to be done on the relationship between melatonin and the gut, some interesting information has already been uncovered. For example, the type of melatonin produced in the gut, commonly referred to as enteric melatonin, can act as an antioxidant as well as a neurotransmitter that helps transmit information across the gut-brain axis.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the presence of food in the stomach is what triggers the release of enteric melatonin, and once released, this hormone works to help regulate the production of key digestive compounds like hydrochloric acid and the digestive enzyme pepsin.
With all that being said, you may still want to pause and rethink before you reach for that melatonin supplement before going to bed because scientists have also discovered that supplementing with melatonin may not be as great for your gut as you may think.
In fact, one group of scientists set out to explore the possibility of using melatonin supplements as a tool to help with certain digestive conditions; however, what they found was quite the opposite—that these supplements may contribute to making the problem worse. The results of their research showed that melatonin supplements may actually disrupt the gut microbiome and could make certain types of digestive issues worse.
Better Ways to Improve Sleep
If you’ve been relying on melatonin at night, but are now wondering how you can go about getting rid of your nightly supplement without sacrificing your sleep, then we’ve got some tips that will help you out.
1. Handle Supplements Safely. Whether you are looking to get rid of the melatonin supplement or you want to add a gut-supporting supplement to your routine, it’s important to do your research so you can do so safely.
2. Try Natural Alternatives. If you are worried that skipping your dose of melatonin at night will greatly disrupt your sleep, then consider replacing it with a natural alternative. There are many non-hormonal sleep supplements out there that contain natural ingredients like magnesium and ashwagandha, which are known to support high-quality sleep.
3. Cut Back on Caffeine. Your gut may benefit from the digestive boost a single cup of coffee can offer, but don’t forget that large amounts of caffeine can negatively impact your digestive system. Plus, if consumed too close to bedtime, caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep at night. While a single cup of coffee in the morning is usually fine, consider cutting back on your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon, to support your gut and help ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
4. Soak Up Some Sun. The sun is very important for your overall health, especially when it comes to regulating your wake-sleep cycle. Encourage your body to align its natural production of melatonin with your daily schedule by spending a few minutes outside as soon as you wake up in the morning and keeping the lights dim as you prepare for bed each evening.
Support Your Gut Naturally
At the end of the day, the decision to include a melatonin supplement in your routine is up to you, but when you make that decision, keep in mind that it may have further implications for other areas of your health, particularly that of your gut.
Whether or not you decide to take melatonin, there are steps you can take each and every day to give your gut microbiome that support it needs to thrive, including the simple act of adding an all-natural, gut-supporting supplement like the ones provided by New Earth to your daily routine, which you can do risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee.
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.