The subject of people who sleep during the day and work at night and its effects on body fat, was addressed in a previous article. See Too Much Light at Night at Night May Lead to Obesity.
The conclusion in that article was that for those who work at night, it is important that they eat during times when they are active – and NOT, for example, just before they go to bed. However, the issue of weight issues for those who fit in one of the following categories is more complex than just the timing of their eating: (1) night shifts workers, (2) persons who do not sleep well, and (2) for those who eat late.
However, this subject deserves further attention due to the many benefits of a restful sleep and the benefits of the “sleep” hormone, Melatonin. Further, the importance of not eating “late” meals applies to actions of our appetite hormone, Leptin. (See following articles on the importance of Leptin and the timing of eating.)
Restful sleep & Melatonin
The hormone Melatonin is our deep sleep hormone. It is affected by light. Our bodies are designed to increase melatonin at night when it is dark. Melatonin is depressed during the day when it is light. When we can say we “wake up refreshed,” then we know we have a good quality of sleep. This is critical for good health and optimal body weight.
The reasons are that if we do not sleep well, our immune system is weakened, we are tired so our exercise routine is interrupted (meaning we burn less calories), and our stress hormone cortisol rises which can cause insulin to rise. The latter two hormones, cortisol and insulin, tend to cause the body to store fat, particularly around the middle.
Melatonin helps you sleep and makes it easier for you to return to sleep after waking up during the night. For years, knowledgeable travelers have used melatonin to ease the transition between time zones with great success. However, Melatonin is not just for traveling between time zones.
Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin is one of the best-studied and most effective anti-aging nutrients available today.
- *Melatonin stimulates your body’s release of human growth hormone. HGH production slows down as we age starting at age 19. Studies have shown that’s improving HGH heightens energy, muscle gain, fat loss, skin appearance, and even sexual performance.
- *Melatonin increases HGH levels even at small oral doses. In many animal studies, melatonin has been shown to increase lifespan.
- *Melatonin is a potent antioxidant. It destroys disease and inflammation causing molecules called free radicals and stimulates extra antioxidant enzymes that protect against illness.
- *It strengthens our immune system (remember that when we sleep our body repairs and restores itself). This is likely why it has been shown to protect against cancer.
- *Studies show that melatonin can reverse aging in the brain tissues of mice.
Dosage and the 10% Rule
Some clients have advised us that they tried Melatonin and either it “did not work” or it made them feel groggy the next morning or they had a slight headache. The most common reason for these reactions is dosage – too much or too little. Another reason is source. Not all Melatonin is the same.
Finally, like in all products, either natural or prescription, there are always up to 10% of people who do not respond well.
By NBH, Director of Education & Research
NBH Lifetime Health Weight Loss & Hormone Clinics, Medline South