How Melatonin And Serotonin Are Needed For Good Sleep
Medicine

How Melatonin And Serotonin Are Needed For Good Sleep

The difference between melatonin and serotonin…

When it comes to getting the perfect nights sleep the levels of serotonin and melatonin play major roles. When the body is lacking in either, it can disturb our circadian rhythm, our natural body clock, and this can lead to drowsy days and sleepless nights.

Whilst are key factors in the body’s ability to wake and sleep, melatonin is a hormone whereas serotonin is a chemical. Serotonin is a pre-cursor to melatonin; meaning the body utilizes serotonin to create melatonin, it is a neurotransmitter, and is responsible for communication between nerve cells.

Melatonin, is a form of neurotransmitter called an indoleamine. These control the release of hormones that regulate sleeping pattern and temperature; one of the reasons temperature can aid, or inhibit sleep.

In short melatonin helps with sleep and serotonin helps waking up.

Why is Serotonin Important?

Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Its biological function is complex, touching on diverse functions including mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes such as vomiting and vasoconstriction.

Serotonin is often described as the body’s happiness drug. It’s a mood-lifting hormone that increases relaxation and positivity. It also helps to feel more energetic.

Research

Melatonin and Serotonin Sleep Research
More Information

Why is Melatonin Important?

Melatonin is sometimes referred to as the hormone of darkness; meaning it is produced by pineal gland when we are in a dark place. Melatonin makes the body winds down, which puts is a more lethargic, sleep-ready state. Without melatonin, it would be impossible to rest soundly and get a good night’s sleep.

This is why it is important to turn off the lights and/or use black-out blinds or an eye mask in the bedroom, prior to sleeping in order to kick start this sleep cycle. This is because the change in light causes messages to be sent from the eye to the brain telling it that more melatonin should be produced.

When the body experiences a lack of melatonin it can lead to sleeplessness and even insomnia. On the other hand, a deficiency in serotonin can cause lethargy and depression. Furthermore, low levels can also have an effect on appetite and mood.

How Melatonin And Serotonin Are Needed For Good Sleep 1

How to Leverage Serotonin and Melatonin For Better Sleep

In the simplest of terms melatonin is boosted when it’s dark, and serotonin is increased in the sun and light environments. Therefore the goal here would be to try get as much sun in the morning and throughout the day and similarly, spend as much time as possible sleeping/resting in dark overnight. This will produce the most hormones that will help you get a good nights sleep.

To increase the production of serotonin: this is as easy as exposing the body to sunlight. Try opening the curtains as soon as you rise, better yet, sleep with the curtains open so that sunrise acts like a natural alarm clock. Once you’re awake try getting outside as soon as possible; go for a run, jog, even a walk. If you have a dog this is the perfect time for both you and your best friend to hit the outdoors.

To increase production of melatonin: simply dim the lights and make the room dark prior to and during sleep. If you’re unable to darken the room you can use a standard sleep mask. It’s also advised to avoid using smartphones, laptops or watching the TV. The bright light, especially the blue, from the screen is known to keep us awake by preventing the circadian winding down for nighttime, and ultimately hindering sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, even in complete darkness, then try meditation and/or breathwork exercises before going to bed.

There is also a whole host of foods that can help boost serotonin and melatonin. For example, bananas, oatmeal, and milk all increase melatonin production, and cherries, eggs, and fish are high in melatonin. Foods that are high in serotonin are typically also high in protein; e.g. foods such as chicken, nuts and seeds.

Skip to content