There a variety of factors that affect your metabolism, including both genetic and external influences. As scientists learn more about metabolism and weight loss, it is becoming clear that the body’s production of melatonin may play a role in maintaining a healthy weight. Here are a few things to understand about melatonin and metabolism, and why sufficient levels of melatonin are important to your overall health.
The Relationship Between Melatonin and Metabolism
Melatonin is the body’s naturally occurring hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The body releases more melatonin later in the day in response to decreasing light levels as it prepares the body for slumber. Melatonin levels stay elevated for approximately 12 hours each night to promote a restful night’s sleep. Conversely, melatonin levels begin to plunge in the morning until they are barely detectable, allowing the body to awaken and start a new day. The rising and falling of melatonin levels are a crucial contributing factor to the body’s circadian rhythms.
The connection between melatonin and metabolism is clearly a complicated relationship. However, scientists have determined beyond a doubt that the sleep hormone melatonin can encourage weight loss by increasing the amount of a specific kind of fat that is essential in burning off energy. This energy burn then boosts metabolism and causes the body to shed weight in the process.
Understanding Glucose and Metabolism
Research has demonstrated a strong link between poor sleep cycles and type 2 diabetes. The latest findings demonstrate that melatonin may be helpful in treating conditions such as metabolic dysfunction.
Low levels of melatonin are related to insulin resistance, a condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In studies involving mice, supplemental levels of melatonin have been demonstrated to boost sensitivity to insulin and lower blood sugar levels. This suggests that the use of melatonin may be instrumental in improving glucose function and keeping the body’s metabolism functioning at optimal levels. In a nutshell, melatonin affects sleep, which affects insulin, which then subsequently affects metabolism.
How Metabolism Affects Overall Obesity Risk
Metabolic rates vary greatly between individuals. While some people naturally experience a higher metabolic rate, other people have to fight harder to keep weight gain at bay because of a slower metabolism.
Your overall risk for becoming obese is elevated if you have a naturally slow metabolic rate, because your body has to work harder to burn calories. An excess amount of calories that are not burned off each day will inevitably lead to weight gain.
Those who are at risk for developing obesity would be wise to understand what they can do to boost their metabolism. Part of this approach involves ensuring that the body is operating with sufficient levels of melatonin so that a quality sleep cycle can be achieved and metabolism is at its most efficient.
Your Sleep and Your Weight
It is no secret that sleep cycles and weight gain or loss are closely connected. Your body’s natural circadian rhythms largely dictate the quality of sleep that you enjoy. As summer approaches and the days get longer, it is more important than ever to make sure that your internal clock is properly calibrated.
A properly functioning circadian rhythm will naturally translate to better sleep and a healthier weight. The research is clear that too much extraneous light can interfere with the circadian rhythms, disrupting sleep and leading to weight gain.
Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that you get adequate sleep each night simply by supporting a healthy circadian rhythm.
Reduce Overall Light Pollution
A pervading low level of light can have negative consequences to your metabolism as it disrupts the circadian rhythms. Light pollution can come from a variety of sources including street lamps and nightlights. Taking active steps to minimize this light will help to regulate your circadian rhythms as well as your metabolism.
Shut Off Electronic Devices
One of the most common ways to disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle is exposure to the blue light that comes from mobile phones, laptops and tablets. This specific type of light makes it more difficult for your brain to relax and get ready for sleep. It is a good idea to shut off all of these devices at least one hour prior to bedtime. Instead of lying in bed winding down by browsing your phone, try reading a book instead.
Resist Looking at Your Phone in the Middle of the Night
We have all been there. After resting soundly for a few hours, you wake unexpectedly and cannot go back to sleep. While it may be tempting to reach for your phone, it is important to avoid this type of light and stimulation if falling back asleep quickly is your goal.
There is still more to learn about the complex relationship between melatonin and metabolism. However, this information is a good start in learning how you can support the essential function of sleep in order to maintain a healthy weight.