Melatonin, Cortisol and Sleep

Melatonin is sometimes referred to as the dracula hormone.? It is produced in the hypothalmus and is favourably affected by moonlight.?

The retinal gangleon cells (found in the ganglion cell layer of the retina of the eyes)? receive visual information from photoreceptors and transmit visual information to other areas of the brain.

Photosensitive ganglion cells contain their own photopigment, melanopsin, which makes them respond directly to light even in the absence of rods and cones.? They project to the suprachiasmatic nucleus via the retinohypothalamic tract for setting and maintaining circadian rhythms.?

What can we learn about this??

Blue light apparently inhibits the production of melatonin, whereas red light does not disturb it.

So what are?today’s natural solution for insomnia?

1.? If you have difficulty sleeping, find a red? night light to put beside your bed to turn on if you have to go to the bathroom, or feed the baby etc.? Not a white light or anything resembling blue light.? And of course, complete darkness is the most preferred option for sleeping.

2.? Stay away from the computer as early as possible at night time before bed.? The blue light coming off your laptop or computer inhibits the production of melatonin.

3.? Sit or walk in the sun in the morning to wake yourself up properly if you had a bad night’s sleep, or are a shift-worker and struggle with the changes to your rhythms.

4.? Dull down the lights at night in the house…. to start relaxing yourself.? Turn off the overhead lights and just put on a friendly lamp for hours before going to bed.?? It’s relaxing and eco-friendly too.

Cortisol and Melatonin

Cortisol is the stress hormone?released in the adrenal glands.

I was beginning to think that cortisol and melatonin had an inverse relationship?(i.e. when one was up, the other was down – in healthy, well rested individuals), so I’ve done a bit of research for you.? (And yea, remember I haven’t done a thesis on this – so if you’ve got some great additions to the research papers I’ve found, please leave?your comment.? Even better, email me and I’ll interview you to help our members?)

I can’t find any studies that say high levels of cortisol reduce the production of melatonin, although a recent TV program seemed to infer it!

However it does appear that melatonin could inhibit the production of the stress hormone cortisol.? Here’s the study that seems to?support that side of the story:

If you want to know more about melatonin -?our special guest Geraldine Gallagher will talk about it in our upcoming Sleep With The Experts webinar series.? Specifically it will be Wednesday July 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm Sydney time (Australian Eastern Standard Time)

To ensure you don’t miss out on this free webinar (places are limited) ensure that you have entered your name and email to our opt-in on our blog or to the website homepage

‘Ladies of the night’? you’ve got a clue – with?your red lights.

Sweet dreams


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